Sign up for the monthly zoom events by sending a PM with your email address to Hitesh

Main Menu

Double Eagle is back on Display

Started by dheer, August 16, 2013, 07:09:41 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


It seems the Double Eagle is back on Display and people can see this ... one of the most expensive coins ..


A Coin Is Historic, Priceless and No Longer in a Vault

For 10 months, the world's most valuable coin sat wrapped in plastic on a folding chair in a little cagelike compartment behind a bright blue door at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It was only a step or two away from billions of dollars' worth of neatly stacked bars of gold bullion.

On Monday, a man in a dark suit stashed the coin in his briefcase and coolly walked out of the Fed's heavily guarded limestone-and-sandstone building, a couple of blocks from the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan. He nodded politely to the guards on the front steps of the Fed. They did not stop him.
The man with the briefcase, David N. Redden, an auction-house executive, was not pulling off a heist. He was taking the coin on a 6.7-mile ride to the New-York Historical Society on Central Park West.

"It's history," Louise Mirrer, the president of the historical society, said of the coin after Mr. Redden had turned it over to curators who fitted it into a display case. "We have lots of priceless objects, but it's always exciting to have the most valuable anything."

The coin is valuable — Mr. Redden auctioned it at Sotheby's for $7,590,020 in 2002, at the time the highest price any coin has ever sold for — because it should not exist. That is why it has inspired four books, a documentary for the Smithsonian Channel and an episode of the cable-television drama "The Closer."

Known to coin collectors as a double eagle because it was worth twice as much as a $10 eagle gold piece, it was struck in 1933, the year in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the United States off the gold standard. He also ordered that year's run of $20 pieces destroyed, except for two that were earmarked for the Smithsonian Institution.

The double eagle that Mr. Redden put in his briefcase somehow escaped that fate. It apparently made its way to Egypt and back, and was seized by the Secret Service in a sting operation at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in 1996.

Compared to all that, the trip to the historical society was somewhat short on drama. The crowd-pleasing chaos of "Die Hard With a Vengeance," a Bruce Willis movie with a bad guy who broke into the Fed underground after a subway crash and made off with lots of gold in a dump truck? No. Mr. Redden made off with a tiny amount of gold — the double eagle is only 34 millimeters wide and weighs just under an ounce — in a black sports-utility vehicle with an armed former police officer at the wheel and another in the front passenger seat.

"For collectors," he said as the S.U.V. barreled up the West Side Highway, "it's almost a mystical experience to look at it." He said this while looking at an almost identical double eagle, one from 1923 that did not have to be destroyed because it had been in circulation. He carries that coin with him everywhere, the way other people carry their cellphones. (He has one of those, too.)

Some coin experts consider the 1933 double eagle the Mona Lisa of coins. Steve Roach, the editor of Coin World magazine, suggested a slightly different description: "The Hope Diamond of American numismatics." It is the only 1933 double eagle that someone can own legally. On one side of the coin is Liberty, "her hair whipping in the wind," in the words of David Tripp, who wrote about the double eagle. On the other side is an eagle patterned after the image on pennies issued a couple of years before the Civil War.

"There are few coins that can capture the public's imagination in the way that this coin can," Mr. Roach said. "It's a unique combination of beauty, desirability and mystery. It's so rare, but it has such an interesting back story."

One element of the back story, he said, is the current owner, who has never been identified. "It's one of the wonderful mysteries of coin collecting, who bought that coin," Mr. Roach said.

Mr. Redden described the owner as "a fabulous collector who was completely captivated by the story of the coin," but not a coin collector.

"After he bought it, he said, 'I don't want to take it home, I don't want to put it in a bank vault — what should I do with it?'" Mr. Redden recalled. "I said the Fed is planning a show. It was the star of that show for years."

But last fall, the Fed sent the coin off to the vault. "The owner is interested in letting the public see it," Mr. Redden said. The historical society beckoned, and the two security men followed Mr. Redden from the S.U.V. through the society's back door. They watched as exhibition designers polished its case and tested the alarm, just in case.

"I don't know what the threat level on this particular item is, because if they steal it, who's going to buy it?" one of the security men, Louis Guiliano, said. "If you can't fence the coin, it's not valuable. It's only valuable if you can get someone to pay you."
A guide on Republic India Coins & Currencies


Initially I was confused  by the title specifically "back on display".  A couple of years ago I was in New york and visited the NY Federal Reserve and their coin exhibition  the double eagle was on display then.  Reading more closely I realized the Fed display of that coin must have ended 10 months ago.

Actually seeing that 33 Double Eagle was a bit of a come down as the coin just didn't impress me that much.  I have the impression that too often the monetary value an item purportedly has that creates the perceived "Mona Lisa" effect( Perhaps I'm just a peasant.....I thought the same about the Mona me there were much better paintings hanging in the Louvre) .   I think there are other more spectacular and interesting coins with much more substantive stories  behind them than the 33 double eagle:  such as:

Of course its all a matter of taste.   


Quote from: Levantiner on August 16, 2013, 01:18:53 PM
Actually seeing that 33 Double Eagle was a bit of a come down as the coin just didn't impress me that much.  I have the impression that too often the monetary value an item purportedly has that creates the perceived "Mona Lisa" effect( Perhaps I'm just a peasant.....

Quite true ... but then at times history gives it more importance than required ... but lucky you were actually able to see this one ...
A guide on Republic India Coins & Currencies


I am much like Levantiner. Ready to be impressed (I actually liked the Mona Lisa), quick to be impressed (I fell big for the Atlanta cyclorama) but how can you be impressed by a coin that differs only in tiny detail from others, certainly never circulated and has its price as its only claim to fame?

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


I think the coin means more to someone who is American than it would non-Americans.

Folks that I spoken to that were adults in 1933, never thought that the US would go off the gold standard.

The US Mint did not think so either, so they made 445,500 1933 Double Eagle coins, which were all supposed to be melted down.

The average person did not understand Executive Order 6102 and therefore the average person who had gold, turned in into goverment.

Some folks say that President Roosevelt was a well liked President while others point on that the US passed the 2 term limit after his death.

So the coin is a symbol and a reminder that the US currency was once backed by gold.

P.S. Just remember, not everyone is impressed by the Mona Lisa, Stonehenge, Taj Mahal, etc.


Quote from: kena on August 26, 2013, 08:54:22 PM
P.S. Just remember, not everyone is impressed by the Mona Lisa, Stonehenge, Taj Mahal, etc.

As said earlier: its all a matter of taste :I love the work of Antoni Gaudí ( Even unfinished the Sagrada Família is incredible), Salvidor Dali( although I am somewhat pleased he wasn't an architect!!!!), and Frida Khalo's work impresses.     Now as for Stonehenge......I suspect, for me, all the hype  might lead to a disappointment!   Back to the coin front I recall horrifying a NZ collector  by saying I thought the New Zealand 10 cent piece was more attractive than the 1935 Waitangi crown!!!


Fair point, Ken.

It's pretty easy to be impressed by Stonehenge, hype and all. Just imagine transporting and lifting the stones with nothing but manpower and ropes. Some sights transcend hype. When I got to see the pyramids at Gizeh, a young (at that time) American tourist standing close to me observed: they could put a Coca Cola sign on top of them and they'd still be fantastic. Idem for Stonehenge.

BTW, I can recommend Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


I live about 30 miles from Stonehenge, so i do agree that it is a puzzle about how they moved the rocks to the site.

I prefer going to Avebury to show folks stones and there is the Red Lion pub to stop into as well.

I have read that book as well.


Alan Glasser

Does anyone know how to find "the Closer" as mentioned in the post that started this thread???

Thanks.  Alan