Double eagle

History knows many coins with a very unusual fate. The most interesting of them, perhaps, is the coin "double eagle" of 1933, which is also the most expensive coin of the planet. Recall that "double eagles" are gold coins worth $20, minted in the US between 1850 and 1933. On the front side of the coin there is a statue of Liberty, and on the reverse side there is a flying eagle. They were called "double eagles" because before the great California "gold rush," the largest coins were $10.

The Double eagle of 1933

In 1933, when Franklin Roosevelt became president of the United States, he immediately decided to cancel the "gold standard" so that the country's economy could recover from the consequences of the Great Depression as soon as possible. He withdrew all gold coins from circulation, and possession of them was declared illegal. Most of the country's residents donated their gold coins to banks, but in the same year the US Mint made 445,000 new twenty-dollar coins. The minted "double eagles" never got into circulation, but were melted down.

It was believed that all the "double eagles" of 1933, except for those deposited at the Smithsonian Institution, were destroyed. However, when a few years later the gold "double eagles" began to appear at auctions, it became clear that several of them were stolen before they were destroyed. The secret services of the United States joined the search for illegally stored coins. They managed to establish that ten "double eagles" were stolen by George McCann, the chief cashier of the Mint. Nine in the end were returned, and the tenth was in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt, one of the largest numismatists in the world. In 1944, King Farooq appealed to the American authorities for an export license for the "double eagle" of 1933, which was issued to him by the Ministry of Finance, where at that time they did not yet know of the ten stolen coins. Only later the officials realized their legal and diplomatic error. The coin was considered illegal and stolen, but the Second World War was going on, and it was not the right time for a diplomatic scandal, especially given the important strategic position Egypt occupied in the Mediterranean. So the CIA thought it was good to wait until better times. In 1952 Farouk was overthrown, and his collection of coins was put up for sale at an auction. However, shortly after the government of the United States formally appealed to the Egyptian authorities to remove the stolen "double eagle" from the auction and return it to the US, it disappeared from the collectors' view for almost half a century. This rarity appeared again in 1996, when one of the largest and most respected English coin collectors, Stephen Fenton, brought a gold double eagle in 1933 to the Waldorf Astoria hotel to sell it to American collectors. In the role of the latter were the federal agents. Fenton was arrested, and the coin was confiscated. It is believed that this is the one that was in the collection of Faruk.

The "double eagle" of 1933 was auctioned at Sotheby's on July 30, 2002 and sold to an unknown buyer for $7590020. Director of the Mint Henrietta Holsman For named it "the most expensive coin in the world." According to David Redden, vice-chairman of Sotheby's, and Lawrence R. Stack, managing director of Stack, "the history of this coin is one of the greatest numismatic secrets of all time".

Currently, the "double eagle" of 1933 is on display at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is a completely legal commodity. This coin and those two that are stored in the Smithsonian Institution are the only three coins "double eagle" of 1933, the existence of which is known to date.