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Confluence of Collectors



This coin is not a top pop, nor a high value or even a coin of striking beauty.  Why would I buy it?  It is an intersection between a man who was one of the most infamous collectors and a man who was the most accomplished US coin collector.

The infamous man is King Farouk of Egypt who conspicuously collected coins en-mass.  He is responsible for the legality of the only 1933 double eagle that is legal to own.  That particular 1933 double eagle was exported by Farouk who actually applied for an export license which was mistakenly granted in 1944 (shocking that the Federal government screwed up...)  The Fed's realized their error and tried to get the coin back from Egypt but WWII intervened and efforts were paused.  Farouk was subsequently overthrown and his coins seized by the People of Egypt and auctioned in London.  The US attempted again to get the coin back but it again disappeared until it was found in the possession of British coin dealer Stephen Fenton.  After some haggling by the Fed's agreed to an auction and in a 6 minute flurry away it went from Sotheby's New York to an anonymous bidder for $6.6 million, plus the 15-percent buyer's premium, and my favorite part an additional $20 to the US Treasury to "monetize" to coin (making it the only [legal tender] , legal to own 1933 double eagle.)  The $6.6 million hammer price was split between Fenton and the US government.

The most accomplished coin collector is of course Lewis E. Eliasberg Sr. who accomplished a task that will never be repeated.  He collected one of every US coin, by date and mint mark from 1792 to the date of completion circa 1950.  He too had a 1933 double eagle, but not the same the Farouk specimen.  When Eliasberg learned that the coins were considered contraband by the US government he turned his in to be melted at no charge to the government.  Some of his more notable coins were the 1933 double eagle, a 1913 Liberty head nickel and his last coin to complete his set a 1873-CC no-arrows Liberty seated dime.  Two caveats to the Eliasberg collection: 1) he selected the best coins he could find but did not collect proof coins as separate from circulation Philadelphia strikes and 2) he had no 1849 double eagle of which only two were minted.  One  of the 1849 double eagles resides in the Smithsonian National Coin Collection and the other was lost to history.  However, based on the fact only 2 were minted the 1849 $20 is considered a pattern rather than a circulation coin and thus not needed to complete his collection.

This Coin: provides an interesting intersection between the two.  The obverse of this common Egyptian 20 Piastres displays King Farouk and the pedigree shows that this coin was owned by Louis Eliasberg.  An interesting side note is that the 20 Piastres was before and after 1938, a silver coin.  Only in 1938 was it made of gold in honor of the King's wedding.

1938 Farouk Eliasberg.jpg





Recommended Comments

I just read an excellent book about the history of the 1933 Double Eagle purchased by King Farouk, he certainly was a gluttonous man in every way, including his numismatic endeavors. 

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Don't be so quick to say what Eliasberg did will never be repeated. It would be hard and take a lot of money but from what I hear someone is trying.

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