A 1933 in 1933. Its Value? $20

by David Enders Tripp

The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 allowed ownership of gold coins which met the criteria of being of “recognized special value to collectors” before December 28, 1933 and April 5, 1933.

Theodore Belote’s opinion in 1944, was that the 1933 Double Eagle met these requirements. But he was wrong. First, he was unaware that no 1933 Double Eagles had ever been issued; but even if they had been, would they have qualified for the recall exemption? No.

1933 Double Eagles were not special presentation pieces or proofs, they were struck with the intent of being a circulating coin. Thus, if examples could have been purchased at the Mint for face value, in the year of their manufacture, they could not have been of “recognized special value to collectors.” They would be worth $20, just as a cent purchased at the Mint would have been worth 1 cent.

Spending money—not items of special value.

Belote’s assessment of their “recognized collector value” was a revisionist opinion, assuming what was so in 1944 had similarly been the case in 1933.