Roger Burdette's Saint Gaudens Double Eagles Book
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KNUCKLEHEADS:  It's so discouraging, a bit sad, and also gets me angry to think that NOBODY said in 1933 or 1934 "Hey, museums or future collectors may want a few of these coins we have here, let's grab a bag of every mintage/year and put 'em aside."

We know from Roger's post on Page 3 that there was a consideration to do that, but it never got implemented.  They dealt with coin collectors....museums....others who collected....and I guess it never 'clicked' in their mind that once melted, the coins are gone FOREVER. :frustrated:

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Smithsonian purchased 2 sets of 1933 coins. It's not known if other museums made requests.

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1 hour ago, RWB said:

Smithsonian purchased 2 sets of 1933 coins. It's not known if other museums made requests.

Not only the 1933's, Roger, but ALL the dates and mintages.  Granted, it turns out we really didn't need a bag of 1924's or 1927's.  But imagine a bag of 1927-D's....another bag of 1931-S's or 1926-D's. etc.

Add 250 coins to the Survivor numbers and all of a sudden the nearly-impossibles become just very expensive but on the market most of the time.  It appears that a 1927-D goes on the market every 5-10 years or so.  With another 250, you'd probably see them up for sale monthly.

Plus, instead of having to be a billionaire to collect all the coins, or a very wealthy millionaire willing to spend millions, you might be able to collect all the years from 1907-33 for under $1 million.  Or close to it.

Wouldn't THAT be nice !!

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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On 4/30/2020 at 10:47 AM, GoldFinger1969 said:

Izzy Switt had like 100 gold coins (mostly Liberty DEs) just taken from him, even though he was a jeweler/dealer.

Yes, he had a license to deal in gold at the time.

 

78 coins. Had he simply renewed his license nothing would have happened.

Thanks for the correction.  I was under the impression he still had his license at the time.

Edited by Conder101
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3 hours ago, Conder101 said:

Yes, he had a license to deal in gold at the time. // Thanks for the correction.  I was under the impression he still had his license at the time.

Where did you get this license, the state or the feds ?

I thought every person was allowed to own 5 gold coins (presumably the largest, double eagles).  If Izzy wanted to give 5 of his friends and their wives the maximum allowable DE's, why couldn't he buy 50 gold coins (for the 10 adults) and take them to their homes  ?

Ditto kids, too, right ?

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A license to hold, sell and buy gold was issued by the Treasury Department through the Mint Bureau.

The original Treasury regulations relating to gold hoarding set $100 per person as the limit. However, this did not work very well and caused more confusion than anything else. Eventually the "coin collector" definition was adopted as is clear in the original order. No one came knocking on doors. There were several recorded instances of spiteful neighbors - even a spouse - reporting to the USSS about a "hoarder." Some were legitimate, many were not.

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Roger, I just completed the 1932 and 1933 Saint sections -- fantastic.  (thumbsu

I followed your outline of the mintage for the 1933's and actually understood the mechanics of what happened in early-March 1933.  That's how good a job you did.  I was prepared to read it 3 or 4 or 5 times because in the past when I've gone over the 1933 Saints, I always got confused.  That's a testamant to how easy you made a complex situation. xD

I thought I read somewhere -- I could be wrong, I can't find it now -- that the guy who authenticated the Langbord 1933's (Dr. George Hunter) had said that the dies that struck those coins were from later dies not used in March 1933.  Maybe it was Greg Weinman's talk to the Pennsylvania Numismatic Society or whatever they were called a few years ago (have you seen that talk ?). 

For some reason, I thought I read or heard that the dies were from later in the strikings of the 1933's and not the March dies.  But maybe it's not possible to track dies used to time struck ?

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The only coins known to exist outside of the 1945 batch and Langbord coins are in the Smithsonian. Given the date of purchase in latter 1934 they probably came from the Annual Assay pieces that were kept in the Cashier's vault, not in the main vault where the rest of production was stored.

It is impossible to tell when or from what die pair sequence these coins were made. The same applies to the other known pieces. The 1945 batch were never photographed or examined in detail.

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Thanks Roger....BTW, I had asked you before when exactly coins could have been released from the Mint.  With your historical research showing that the 1933's were STRUCK on March 2nd...and available for RELEASE on March 4th....it is quite possible that some coins could have been obtained during the Hoover Administration because FDR didn't take office until later in the day of March 4th, 1933 !! (thumbsu

And of course, exchanges weren't prohibited until April 12th, 1933 (can you confirm that was a hard directive from the Treasury Secretary or Mint Director ?).  And if the PUBLIC wasn't allowed to exchange past April 12th.....what about Mint personnel, who were always helping themselves to perks ?  With the 1933's worth over face value....with a pending melt coming...maybe McGann or someone else took avdvantage of an exchange of other coins for the 1933's.

Unless Mint personnel were told that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES were any 1933's to leave the Mint, they could have said "Hey, no harm, no foul."  xD

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13 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

....what about Mint personnel, who were always helping themselves to perks ?  With the 1933's worth over face value....with a pending melt coming...maybe McGann or someone else took avdvantage of an exchange of other coins for the 1933's.

The movement of bullion from Melting & Refining through Coining, was not a smooth flow. The process was a series of small steps. Each step drew bullion from the previous one, performed its functions, and then sent the bullion forward to the next step. As bullion was transferred from one step to the next each kept a separate record of what they received and what they forwarded.  At the end of each work day, bullion that had not been processed, was credited back to the previous step. All the transfers had to match along with accounting for any unavoidable loss (“wastage”). Quantities of bullion were large but losses were minuscule. All discrepancies had to be resolved before anyone involved could go home.

Opportunities for theft of bullion or coins were small and limited to certain officers such as the Cashier or Vault Custodian. While mistakes occasionally occurred, a high level of personal honesty was demanded.

I don’t know what is meant by “always helping themselves to perks” so more specific information is needed on this question.

RE: “With the 1933's worth over face value....with a pending melt coming...maybe someone took advantage of an exchange of other coins for the 1933's.”

All gold coins were legal tender at face value in March 1933. All gold coins were worth more than face value in March 1933 based on European commodity prices equal to about $27 per Troy ounce. No one knew what was going to happen. Newspaper consensus was that gold hoarding orders, like the bank holiday, would be temporary measures. (No living person in the USA had ever done business under any monetary standard except gold-based currency.) Melting coins was likely not given much consideration – at least it was not thought likely by Treasury’s Chief Counsel or the holdovers from Hoover’s administration.

The option of exchanging gold-for-gold, especially in identical form, is plausible. The people with access to do this were the Coiner, Cashier, Superintendent, and Chief Clerk. Only one of these people had sufficient assets and income to do this and also be able to hold coins for an extended period. This was the Superintendent, Fres Styer, whose real occupation was attorney. (He didn’t bother to mention his Mint job on the 1930 Census form.)  The fact that all bullion and coin counts showed nothing missing combined with the fact that 20 to 25 1933 DE were “at liberty,” supports the idea of 1 for 1 exchange by a Mint Officer.

Edited by RWB
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Perks....I meant keeping the old patterns and coins that were 1st struck....being able to get a jump on early releases of new coins...picking and choosing nice-looking coins...etc..etc...etc.......that kind of thing.  Nothing illegal.

Suppose I worked at the Mint and was a collector.  Suppose I didn't get my 1933's right away because I was short money or figured I had a year to do it.  Then all the stuff happens with FDR and the Gold Standard.....and it's late 1933 or early 1934 and I say "Hey, I need 5 1933's for my collection, here's 5 1924's with no abrasion."

I can't believe that the Mint higher-ups would have said no.

 

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1 hour ago, RWB said:

All gold coins were legal tender at face value in March 1933. All gold coins were worth more than face value in March 1933 based on European commodity prices equal to about $27 per Troy ounce. No one knew what was going to happen. Newspaper consensus was that gold hoarding orders, like the bank holiday, would be temporary measures. (No living person in the USA had ever done business under any monetary standard except gold-based currency.) Melting coins was likely not given much consideration – at least it was not thought likely by Treasury’s Chief Counsel or the holdovers from Hoover’s administration.

How firm was that $27 price ?  You mean you could buy $20 Saints in the U.S.....ship them to Europe....and they were worth 35% more overnight ?

We should have had tons of gold/coins/gold certificates flying overseas then in 1932 and 1933.

I presume this was because everybody else was leaving or had left the gold standard by 1933.

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The hoarding EOs also covered export - for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Speculators were making profits moving US gold to Europe during the last year and a half of Hoover's term. That increased greatly after Nov 1932. Hoover's folks had started taking names of those withdrawing gold and not accounting for its redeposit or domestic use (as mentioned in the DE book). FDR wanted to keep US gold in the US, but he could not fight the open commercial market without controlling (raising) the dollar price of gold....in turn, that could not be done with denominated gold coins in circulation or other holdings. (Britain's use of undenominated gold avoided that problem.)

The story of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles neither begins nor ends with just the dates on coins. So, neither does the book.

Happy reading!

:)

Edited by RWB
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3 hours ago, RWB said:

The story of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles neither begins nor ends with just the dates on coins. So, neither does the book. Happy reading!  :)

Touche !! xD

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I searched for the book. You chose the most interesting coin, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle. I recall one that was quite notorious. Smuggled, vanished and all sort of magic. It was in King Farouk's collection. His Majesty collected everything : ) 

Whenever I read a book about Numismatics, I am left astonished, as to how the writer managed to research, dig up and organize all the information. In addition to adding your own take on the subject. A most impressive feat, Congratulations. 

   

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6 hours ago, Voltyris said:

I searched for the book. You chose the most interesting coin, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle. I recall one that was quite notorious. Smuggled, vanished and all sort of magic. It was in King Farouk's collection. His Majesty collected everything : )  Whenever I read a book about Numismatics, I am left astonished, as to how the writer managed to research, dig up and organize all the information. In addition to adding your own take on the subject. A most impressive feat, Congratulations.    

Volt, did you get the book ?  It's available from Heritage Auctions (NOT Amazon).

I think you are talking about David Tripp's book ILLEGAL TENDER.  I haven't read his book or Allyson Frankel's DOUBLE EAGLE (Roger says her book is better).  I probably should read both because I find the story of the 1933's fascinating, but it will be difficult for me to read Tripp's book because the guy testified for the government/U.S. Mint and helped them steal back the Switt-Langbord 1933's.  I'm not sold on him as an equal to Roger as a researcher; I think he was a better storyteller.  He worked for Sotheby's and they had a financial and reputational interest in NOT having any other 1933's hit the market.  I just got a copy of their 2003 auction pamphlet marketing the 1933 Farouk Saint, it's slick but that's it.  Sotheby's could care less about the coin business or hobby, so they basically made their $$$ selling the Farouk coin and then their lead guy helped prevent the rest from competing.

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9 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

Volt, did you get the book ?  It's available from Heritage Auctions (NOT Amazon).

I think you are talking about David Tripp's book ILLEGAL TENDER.  I haven't read his book or Allyson Frankel's DOUBLE EAGLE (Roger says her book is better).  I probably should read both because I find the story of the 1933's fascinating, but it will be difficult for me to read Tripp's book because the guy testified for the government/U.S. Mint and helped them steal back the Switt-Langbord 1933's.  I'm not sold on him as an equal to Roger as a researcher; I think he was a better storyteller.  He worked for Sotheby's and they had a financial and reputational interest in NOT having any other 1933's hit the market.  I just got a copy of their 2003 auction pamphlet marketing the 1933 Farouk Saint, it's slick but that's it.  Sotheby's could care less about the coin business or hobby, so they basically made their $$$ selling the Farouk coin and then their lead guy helped prevent the rest from competing.

Yes, I found it through Heritage. Didn't get a chance to pick up one yet. I've another one of Roger's books, a Guide to Peace Dollars. The best out there for peace dollars. I use it quite often and I even have multiple editions. Tough ones, peace dollars, in comparison to the quality of Morgans. 

Oh I was talking about Farouk's Saint. I think the US government tried to retrieve it from the Egyptian Gov at some point, after the King's overthrow in the revolution. I read about Sotheby's auction of the coin. Sotheby's is a mammoth of an auction house but true, they couldn't care less about coins. They're pure business. 

I heard Illegal tender is a fascinating read, but I personally have no opinion or information about both book and author. It's mentioned as an interesting book by many established writers in Numismatics. 

To summarize, this coin is brilliant, with a rich history and a fascinating background. I am certain a lot of facts or stories about it still remain hidden.

Edited by Voltyris
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The U.S. government actually ran a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria to catch the American buyer and British coin dealer.   Now I know where our priorities were when Bin Laden was striking at the Khobar Towers and planning 9/11. xD

The government tried to criminally prosecute Steve Fenton (the Brit) and seize the coin.  After 5 years, the letter from the Treasury authorizing the export of the coin to Egypt came out.  The govt settled for a split of the proceeds, probably recognizing that they would LOSE in a fair trial (as opposed to the kangaroo court in Philly) and this might open the door to all the 1933's being legal to possess.

The Mint and Treasury's behavior has been a disgrace.  Typical Big Government, protect the institution at all costs, damn the facts, long live the Deep State attitude.

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4 hours ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

After 5 years, the letter from the Treasury authorizing the export of the coin to Egypt came out. 

After 5 years?  The export license had been known about for decades.

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2 hours ago, Conder101 said:

After 5 years?  The export license had been known about for decades.

I thought they knew a license had been granted, but they didn't have the actual written proof.  I thought that was what Attorney Berke (or maybe Roger) found.  Or maybe it was proof that the coin in question was the Farouk coin, that went with the export license.

Whatever, something happened to cause the government to suddenly say they'd settle for a split.  But I do think you are right, Conder, the note was known for a while.

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Wow....I didn't realize that the entire Saint-Gaudens production that was not melted is only about 3 million coins out of 70 million.  And unreal......40% of ALL those coins are 1924-P's !!  Those are stats that stick out even if you just read them once.

If you had asked me before reading the book I think I would have been close to the 3 MM surviving coins and the 70 MM produced in total....but I probably thought that the 1924's were maybe 10%, 20% tops, of all the coins.  That number in the UNC-MS62 category really swells the 1924's.  I may recalculate the number for MS65 and Above and see if that 40% figure drops a bit.

Anyway, the ending sections of the book have some great data points and outstanding commentary.  I'm still reading and will report back.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Roger, the table on P. 603:  You have 27 MM (rounded) melted coins from 1921 and 1929-33.  This figure must include the rest of the 1920's production, right ?  1921 + 1929-33 is about 8 MM coins, give or take.  Nowhere near 27 MM.

Also....you list about 43 MM as Potentially Available (not melted) and 39.6 MM as Missing/Unaccounted.

Those numbers seem high....if these coins were not used in U.S. domestic commerce, if they mostly traded as part of international trade settlement, I would think that several hundred thousand bags of coins would have been found by now.

It seems to me that the number melted (which your table didn't include any before 1921) must be much much higher.  That would reduce the 43 MM and 39.6 MM figures by alot.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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And somewhere in the book you had quoted Akers or someone as saying that one of the guys who had the "best contacts" in the European banks couldn't find any more hoards.  The number of Saints your table implies as potentially being out there seems way off.  I have to think that most of the 1907-1916 Saints, plus the 1920's pre-1929 (including the 1920 and 1920-S), virtually all got melted...if not in this country, then in another country or countries with even worse paper records.

Don't get me wrong:  I hope I'm wrong. xD  I just can't believe almost 40,000,000 Saints are in the U.S., Europe, South/Central America, or anywhere else and nobody has found them.  If they are held by banks, they are being valued at their bullion content whereas they are worth more if they sell them (market value > book value).

That KNOWN MELTED line must be much much higher, no ?

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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1 hour ago, RWB said:

 

Unaccounted for is just that - we don't know. The tables cover all types unless stated otherwise.

OK, make a guess.  Do you think it's possible lots of banks in Europe or South America have thousands (tens of thousands) of bags of these in their vaults ?

I'd love for it to be true, but I just don't see it.

Anyway, on with the book reading.......xD

 

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I understand. This is were the data - and it's sparse - goes. When American coin dealers say that "there are no more in Europe" all they are doing is saying "there are no more that I can find or buy at profitable prices." European banks and individuals are much more careful and acquisitive than US folks understand. We've never had an economic failure and worthless currency - even with incompetent political persons in charge. Europeans have had to deal with that for centuries.

I wish there were more data and better quality data - but that's what we have for now. Others might be much better at this than I am, and will find tighter boundaries and reach more satisfying conclusions.

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1 hour ago, RWB said:

I understand. This is were the data - and it's sparse - goes. When American coin dealers say that "there are no more in Europe" all they are doing is saying "there are no more that I can find or buy at profitable prices." European banks and individuals are much more careful and acquisitive than US folks understand. We've never had an economic failure and worthless currency - even with incompetent political persons in charge. Europeans have had to deal with that for centuries.

I wish there were more data and better quality data - but that's what we have for now. Others might be much better at this than I am, and will find tighter boundaries and reach more satisfying conclusions.

Hey, I would LOVE for you to be right....and it's possible that many of the middle-sized privately-held banks (i.e, the landesbanks in Germany) don't know what the heck they have.  So anything is possible.

It's just that with Europe in ruins in 1945 -- and South America decades behind everyone else in terms of financial disclosure and reporting -- I could easily see stuff not being found until the 1960's and 1970's.  Hell, even in the 1950's just finding enough to eat was still difficult in parts of Europe; they were STILL rebuilding.

But now it's 75 years since WW II ended.  Everything has been audited over the years/decades....computerization and updated reports...very little hidden (besides bad and crony loans xD ).  I actually think there's a better possibility of finding some stray bags in South/Central America.  Many banks there are still stuck with 1980's reporting and technology.  And I wouldn't put it past some of those dictators and/or corrupt "elected" officials to have squirreled away a few dozen/hundred bags -- or more !! -- in their own private safes.

Hey, ya never know, right Roger ?  Imagine a bag or two of 1921-S's or 1920's and the thrill it would cause in our community (unless you owned one already !! xD ).

Anyway, I'm fascinated and thrilled by your bringing this up, even if it involves loose ends.  Great closing chapters ahead....I'll be finished this weekend.

I got my money's worth with your book.  (thumbsu

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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Good to hear that the book is interesting and informative. A future edition - whenever that might happen - will update and enhance as much as possible.

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51 minutes ago, RWB said:

Good to hear that the book is interesting and informative. A future edition - whenever that might happen - will update and enhance as much as possible.

I have some spelling and other printing errors (not that many) which I will send to you in the future.  No rush, unless you are coming out with a 2nd Edition in a few months. xD

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