Celebrated 1933 Ten Dollar, MS651933 $10 MS65 PCGS. The 1933 eagle had a sizeable mintage of 312,500 pieces. All were struck in January and February 1933, but most pieces were subsequently melted after Presidential Order 6260, which prohibited the release of gold coins from the mints, was issued by President Franklin Roosevelt in March of the same year. Some of those coins--perhaps numbering three or four dozen pieces--were legally released through regular channels before the order took effect. About 30 survivors were uncovered in an East Coast hoard in 1952, and a few others have since turned up in French and Swiss banks. The 1933 eagle, however, is still among the rarest Indian tens in all grades. The indispensable Garrett-Guth Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins opines that "Owning an example of this date is certainly one of the highlights of any numismatic collection, and a feat precious few collectors can ever hope to accomplish." But the authors of The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Ivy Press, 2006) sum it up best by noting that the "1933 eagle is undeniably one of the most prestigious issues in the series. Its standing is enhanced by two factors: it is the final year of issue for this beautiful design type, and it is an extremely rare coin."
The allure of the 1933 eagle, however, extends beyond its rarity and appeal to collectors. This issue is also a relic of the apex of one of the darkest periods in America's financial history, the Great Depression. Although the economic downturn began with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, or Black Tuesday, scholars generally agree that the lowest point of the hard times was witnessed in March 1933, coinciding with the aforementioned Presidential Order 6260. Franklin Roosevelt, who was inaugurated on March 4, 1933, inherited quite a mess, but how he handled the crisis was controversial to say the least, and shall forever remain deeply imbedded in our nation's history. At the time that the 1933 tens were being minted, citizens across the country were aggressively attempting to withdraw their savings from banks, preferably in the form of gold coin. As a result banks were shutting their doors in the faces of America's working class. Roosevelt, after just a few days in office, apparently panicked and ordered that all banks be closed to prevent depositors from unnecessarily draining banks of their gold and cash supplies. The government mandated closing of the nation's banks lasted from Monday, March 6 through Thursday, March 9. The proclamation stated that "... no such banking institution or branch shall pay out, export, earmark, or permit the withdrawal or transfer in any manner or by any device whatsoever, of any gold or silver coin or bullion or currency or take any other action which might facilitate the hoarding thereof." The closing of the banks was idealistically labeled as a "bank holiday" by the government. Shortly thereafter, on April 5, 1933, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, prohibiting the hoarding of privately held gold coins and bullion by any citizen of the United States. Throughout that year, Americans were subjected to other laws that further limited their rights to own gold.
To have lived during those dark days must have been quite a traumatic experience, one rife with public panic, anxiety, and outright anger. President Roosevelt was obviously aware of the public unrest, as evinced in his radio address to the nation on March 12, 1933, where he closed with the following sentiment:
"... there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work. It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail."
Ownership of a 1933 ten means more than having custody of a truly rare coin; it is the possession of a veritable time capsule made of gold, of which very few have survived. A total of only 35 coins in all grades have been certified at NGC and PCGS combined. To put that ridiculously low number into perspective, consider that both services have collectively graded 65,066 eagles dated 1932. The present MS65 coin is tied with six other Gem pieces at PCGS, with no examples graded finer. At NGC, there are only four coins certified at the MS65 level, with one piece finer (11/07). In terms of technical merit, the current coin holds its own with the Kruthoffer specimen, offered by Heritage at the June 2000 Long Beach Signature Sale, and compares favorably with it in terms of eye appeal. That piece, which sold for $718,750 in the October 2004 Stack's sale, has since been graded MS66 by NGC, which raises the possibility that the present piece is itself conservatively graded.
While Akers states that some 1933 tens have a satiny finish, this example possesses decidedly frosted mint luster. Well balanced reddish-gold coloration graces the surfaces, which are remarkably clean, even for a Gem coin. In terms of strike, the details are nicely defined throughout. The resulting eye appeal of this example is comparable to that observed on pieces certified at a higher level. This is a coin reserved for the most discriminating connoisseur of classic U.S. gold coinage, one who understands the historical significance and absolute rarity of a high grade 1933 ten dollar and appreciates the elegance of one of the most beautiful designs in the history of our nation's coinage.
Ex: Kutasi Collection (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3191.
From The Madison Collection.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 28HC, PCGS# 8885)
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Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers
The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins.
Each date and mintmark is reviewed with up-to-date information, much of which has never been previously published. The book is based on
two extraordinary collections: The Phillip H. Morse collection and the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor collection.
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