In an earlier blog post we discussed an extremely rare gold coin on display at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in lower Manhattan: the 1933 Double Eagle. It’s illegal for someone to posses this unissued American coin, so how did one end up on display in Manhattan?
Amazingly, this particular coin has a storied history. After they were struck, two 1933 Double Eagles were presented to the U.S. National Numismatic Collection while the rest were ordered to be melted down. However, through means unknown, some coins were stolen from their birthplace at the Philadelphia Mint. A jeweler by the name of Israel Switt came into possession of the coins and sold them to various coin collectors – one of which was King Farouk I of Egypt.
To obtain the coin, Farouk applied to the US Treasury Department for an export license for the Double Eagle. The treasury department mistakenly issued the license. They did not realize until later that the 1933 Double Eagle had been stolen. With that, the coin was out of the country and beyond US jurisdiction.
Later, Farouk was overthrown and his possessions were put up for auction. The US requested the return of the coin, and Egypt was in compliance. However, the coin mysteriously disappeared from the auction before it could be returned. It did not resurface until 40 years later in a hotel, near Manhattan where the coin eventually came to rest. Learn more in our next blog post!