Chapter 8 The Five Coins that never were and are worth a Fortune
Anyone who has followed the trials and tribulations related to the 1933 Double Eagles in private hands knows simply possessing a coin does not mean you have the legal right to own it. I am no expert on what exactly the procedure is for coins and bank notes to become legal tender. From what I can gather from news articles the first step is that an order be placed for the coins or bank notes be produced. Once produced is this new currency now legal tender? Evidently not, the new currency must then be officially released which includes funds being transferred to the treasury equal to the face value of the new currency being introduced into circulation. In the case of the 1933 Double Eagle the coins were authorized to be struck but that is where it stopped. With the exception of one 1933 double eagle set aside to be presented to King Farouk of Egypt all other specimens were to be melted down. But even though King Farouk was officially presented his 1933 double eagle it was not officially removed from the mint in that the treasury never received payment from the State Department or any other government agency for release of that coin. The court ruling determined the coin was in fact a gift from the U.S. government to the King and was therefore allowed to exist in private hands but that it not come back into the U.S. until $20 in U.S. funds was paid to the U.S. treasury. The $20 was quickly paid and the coin is now in the U.S. in private hands.
There are other strange situations related to U.S. coinage such as the 1870-S silver dollar. For example there are simply no mint records related to the production or release of these 12 coins. These 12 coins were all removed from circulation (1 is graded MS 62) and never known to have been in the hands of one family or individual thus implying they were released into general circulation as part of the normal operation of the San Francisco mint. This differs significantly from the 1933 double eagles being fought over in the courts that are all MS and in the hands of one family.
But what upsets me the most are those #&*%!! 1913 Liberty Head Nickels. To me these five coins represent the darkest side of our hobby that is willing to reward individuals for thievery and allow their ill-gotten merchandise to be sold openly in the market place and to reap big bucks. What saddens me the most is that such practice is supported by the biggest and most prominent auction houses, dealers and collectors. Yes at least one 1913 Liberty Head die was made but that is as far as it went. When I started collecting coins in about 1950 (this was only 37 years after 1913) I heard stories of how these five coins were produced (either as a favor or for payment) for an individual who had an in at the mint. This position was reinforced three decades +/- later when I was living in Maryland and all five of these coins were placed on display at the Baltimore ANA show. I was a one man boycott of this show simply because these coins were being treated like royalty when in fact they were pretenders to the throne. While the ANA show was in town I heard and interview with the president of the ANA on the radio and when asked about the origin of these five coins he paused and the best he could do was imply they may have had a clandestine origin followed by a short laugh and that was all he would say. Please note that unlike the 1870-S dollars these five nickels are all MS, as with the 1933 double eagle, implying they were removed from the mint as group and kept way that until being split up.
Also I would like to say thank you to those of you who have said they enjoy reading my journals.