By Steve Roach – http://www.steveroachonline.com
First published in the July 25, 2011, issue of Coin World

As the trial to determine who owns the “Langbord 10” 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles is scheduled to begin July 7 in a Philadelphia federal courtroom, many are wondering what these coins are worth.

1933 double eagle sothebys Pricing the priceless: Whats a 1933 $20 gold double eagle worth? We know what the coins grade since Numismatic Guaranty Corp. reported Nov. 3, 2009, that it had graded one coin Mint State 66, two MS-65, six MS-64 and one with an NGC Uncirculated Details, Improperly Cleaned grade.

When pricing any object, one first looks at comparables — other objects of similar type and quality and the prices they sold for. In 2002, the 1933 double eagle allegedly owned by Egypt’s King Farouk sold for $7,590,000 at auction. It graded MS-65 and was — and currently is — the only 1933 double eagle that can be legally owned by an individual.

So if the coins are ruled private property, are the “Langbord 10” worth around $7 million each?

That’s unlikely. When multiple examples of an object enter a market, the demand/supply ratio changes. While the added publicity helps — meaning that more people know what a 1933 double eagle is and may want one — it’s not enough to compensate for the fact that the coins are not unique.

A parallel in the art market is when an artist’s estate is valued for estate tax purposes, a blockage discount is sometimes used. This assumes that the works are sold at once, depressing the market. To maximize value, prudent estates use long-range marketing, which places objects into the market slowly, responding to the ebbs and flows of demand and artist reputation.

1933 saint ngc ms66 Pricing the priceless: Whats a 1933 $20 gold double eagle worth? What pricing comparables do the 1933 double eagles have?

Perhaps most obvious is the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle, considered by some the rarest regular issue coin of the 20th century. Around 10 are collectible today from a mintage of 180,000. They are sold infrequently. The last example at public auction was an MS-66 that realized $1.495 million at a January 2010 auction.

Seeing that the prices for the top objects in many collecting categories are going sky high, with proper marketing to buyers beyond the existing coin-market, the 10 Langbord 1933 double eagle coins could be worth around $2 million each, perhaps more.

But how many more examples remain to be discovered is a troubling, lingering question.

Steve Roach is a Dallas, Texas, based rare coin appraiser and fine art advisor who writes the world’s most widely read rare coin market analysis each week in the pages of Coin World.  He is also a lawyer who writes on legal topics involving collectibles and fine art, and helps create estate plans for collections. Visit him online at http://www.steveroachonline.com, join him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenroach or follow him on twitter @roachdotsteve

 

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