Ron Guth: In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring American citizens to turn over to the government "...all such coin, bullion or other possessions of gold and silver...within fourteen days...for compensation at the official price, in the legal tender of the Government." Certain coins with numismatic premiums were excepted, but all current coinage, including 1933 eagles, would have been included. The original mintage of the 1933 $10 gold pieces was high, but very few were released before the government halted their distribution. Ultimately, all but a few examples in collectors' hands were melted down. Thus, due to historic circumstances, Roosevelt created one of the great American coin rarities of the 20th centuries with the stroke of a pen.
The observations made by the late David Akers more than 20 years ago have held up remarkably well (see below). No superb examples have shown up as of yet, and no European hoards have been discovered. The PCGS Condition Census consists almost entirely of gem (MS65) examples, the best being a single PCGS MS65+. For collectors, choosing an example boils down to luck, price, and personal preference, just as it always has.
Michael I. Keston Collection - Superior 1/1996:194 - Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage - Heritage 11/2005:6520 - Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles - Heritage 1/2009:3531, $488,750 - Heritage 7/2009:1312, $460,000
Pine Tree “Breen 2” 1975:328, $46,000 - Stanley Kesselman - Robert E. Kruthoffer, Jr. Collection - Paramount 9/1981:65, 79,000 - Collection of an East Coast Family - Heritage 6/2000:7627, $207,000 - Stack’s 10/2004:2190, $718,750 - Simpson Collection
Kutasi Collection - Heritage 1/2007:3191, $546,250 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3291, $552,000
H. Jeff Browning "Dallas Bank" Collection - Sotheby's/Stack's 10/2001:599, $149,500 - Goldbergs 2/2009:1592, $517,500