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Rare 1933 Gold Coin Goes on Sale

July 30, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A 1933 Double Eagle gold coin that never went into circulation was being sold at government auction Tuesday, with experts predicting it could fetch millions.

The U.S. Mint estimated the coin’s value at $4 million to $6 million.

Sotheby’s auction house in New York was to begin the auction around 6 p.m., said Mint spokesman Doug Hecox, and it was not clear when the auction would end.

Double Eagles were first minted in 1850, with a face value of $20. The ones that were minted in 1933 were not circulated because President Roosevelt decided to take the nation off the gold standard.

The coin being auctioned is believed to be one of very few 1933 Double Eagles to have survived an order that year that the coins be melted down. The front features a standing Liberty figure. The other side features a majestic eagle.

Before the coins were melted down, two were handed over to the Smithsonian Institution for historic safekeeping. One other survived, was thought to have been illegally smuggled out of the Mint and ended up in the storied coin collection of Egypt’s last monarch, King Farouk. The coin disappeared in the 1950s and surfaced again in 1996.

The Double Eagle appeared when British coin dealer Stephen Fenton tried selling it to undercover Secret Service agents at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. An out-of-court settlement with Fenton last year cleared the way for the auction, the Mint says.

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On the Net: Sotheby’s: http://sothebys.ebay.com/

U.S. Mint: http://www.usmint.gov/auction/

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