Some can make an argument to call the Farouk-Fenton 1933 Saint-Gaudens Gold $20 Double Eagle coin the most famous coin in the world. Although other coins have surpassed it in price since Stuart Weitzman purchased it in 2002, its legend lives beyond any other coin.
The story of the coin spans families, generations, continents, court cases, and was almost destroyed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Its story was told in two excellent books and the revealing of the coin’s current owner made international headlines.
Now, the world’s most famous coin has been certified, graded, but not entombed in plastic. Sotheby’s requested the grading and certification for the coin and asked that the coin not be slabbed. PCGS graded the coin and provided an image certification. They also announced that the new owner could submit the coin for holdering after the auction.
Although certification is necessary for some coins in this day of counterfeits, there are some coins whose importance goes beyond the need to entomb them in plastic away from the world. The last legal tender gold coin from the time Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew gold from the market is one of those coins.
There have been other famous coins displayed in slabs that give them a lonely feel. Looking at any of the five 1913 Liberty Head Nickels makes it seem like it’s trapped instead of proudly standing, showing off its fascinating story. The same fate awaits the 1933 Double Eagle should its next owner decide the plastic is more important than the coin.
For the sake of allowing the legend to live, I hope the next owner decides not to hide this coin in plastic and allows the world to celebrate its story and beauty.
And now the news…