The history of precious metal coins has many strange stories. The Titanic vault was believed to have a large cache of silver and gold coins. Al Capone’s vault was thought to have bags of gold and silver when Geraldo Rivera opened it live on TV. Both were empty. An interesting story that has been told over and over again is that bags of silver and gold coins have been hidden or even forgotten in bank vaults only to be discovered, authenticated and offered for sale to collectors. This is the story that led to finding a large number of uncirculated Silver Morgans. The same story seems true for 1932 $10 Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagle
The $10 Golden Eagle is one of the two coins designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It contains about a half ounce of gold. The coin itself is beautiful. The front side has a native American effigy with an elaborate headdress. Above the portrait are 13 stars representing the original 13 American Colonies. The back side shows an aggressive eagle perched on arrows wrapped with a peace garland. The coin also includes the phrases, “In God We Trust” and “E Plurubus Unum”- out of many- one.
So how is this coin like Morgan Dollars?
In 1929, the world entered the great depression. As a result, governments were struggling. Also people were out of work and monetary policy was in flux. By 1932, banks were failing. The loans they had made were in default and they didn’t have enough money to stay solvent. By 1933, there were bank runs where people wanted to take all of their money out of a bank and in some cases, convert it to gold. Banks don’t have enough cash on hand to pay out all its savings deposits. Remember George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life told the Bailey Savings and Loans members that he didn’t have all the money in the bank. That it was in loans in other members houses. This logic didn’t work for George Bailey (Mary gave away their life savings to the customers), and it didn’t work for Bank President’s in 1933.
President Roosevelt issued an executive order on May 1, 1933 making the possession of more than $100 of gold and silver illegal. The idea was to improve the liquidity of US banks by putting more dollars in motion. Of course, it didn’t work. Rich people- the ones with large hoards of coins had the wherewithal to hide their coins or ship them to overseas banks. And that is what they did.
Fast forward 70, 80, 90 years and now the story is that these long-lost coins have been found in European banks. Also they have been brought back to the US, authenticated by PCGS or NGC, and put up for sale to collectors. I hope these newly-found coins are real. If you are going to buy them, make sure you are clear on the provenance.
They are attractive coins and part of US history. So lets hope they are authentic.