While it has nothing to do with 9/11, the following numismatic press release is a welcome respite from ads for crappy souvenir "coins" claiming to have some significant connection to the former World Trade Center site. It's still marketing hype intended to help peddle the other 199 coins from the hoard, but at least these are real coins with an interesting story behind them. Has the tale actually been documented anywhere outside of this press release? Who smuggled the coins out of what "European territory?" What was their fate? And what happened to the coat? What value is there, if any, to the story if it's undocumented?
A rare $20 Gold St. Gauden's coin, one of 200 sewn into a leather jacket by a Jewish family and smuggled out of European territory that was about to be occupied by the oncoming Nazis in 1940 has been gifted to the Ground Zero Museum Workshop in New York City by prominent rare coin dealer John Albanese and will be on display starting in February, 2011, says Museum Founder Gary Marlon Suson.
The 200 coins, now labeled and graded as the "World War 2 Exile Hoard" by Numismatic Grading Services (NGC) in Florida, were purchased in Europe last month with their unusual history being revealed to the French buyer. During the turbulent period just prior to World War II, these coins were withdrawn from the bank by a Jewish family and were a trove meant to sustain them through the worst possible situation.
Just subsequent to the Nazi invasion of this family's home country in 1940, each of the coins was sewn into the lining of a leather coat by the family. With great risk, they were spirited out to a safe-haven neutral country, where they have been kept ever since. According to the gold buyer, who relayed the history of these coins to NGC, the family in possession of the coins elected to sell them this year because gold had risen to record price levels. The group of 200 coins have all been individually encapsulated by NGC with the pedigree WWII EXILE HOARD.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop, the tiny 9/11 Nonprofit Museum in NYC's Meatpacking District and currently on ‘Trip Advisor's Top 12 NYC Attractions List' – was founded by Gary Marlon Suson, an FDNY Honorary Battalion Chief who served at the World Trade Center as "Official Photographer at Ground Zero" for the NYC Fire Unions under the supervision of Manhattan Trustee Rudy Sanfilippo and FDNY Chief of Department Daniel Nigro.
Suson's visit in 2004 to the Anne Frank House in Holland left him amazed at how such a miniscule museum could have such a profound impact. He was then inspired to create a similar Museum in NYC so visitors could learn about the 9/11 "Recovery Period." The Museum, which features 100 Images & Artifacts from WTC and raises funds for 9/11 charities has since developed a cult-like following and is regularly featured on Top 10 Lists. On display at the Museum is Anne Frank's book and ironically, one of Anne Frank's last surviving relatives visited GZMW in 2006.
One past visitor to GZMW, rare coin expert John Albanese, the CEO of Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) in Bedminster, New Jersey, became a fan of the Museum and Suson's collection of images and remembered that the Museum's inspiration came from the Anne Frank House. Just weeks ago, Mr. Albanese bought the hoard of coins from the French dealer and decided to gift the very first of the two hundred WW2 EXILE Coins to the Museum.
"I thought it would be a fitting artifact to donate to the Museum since both 9/11 and the Holocaust have to do with oppressive and violent acts towards the innocent, so we contacted Gary and he was very touched by the gesture. His Museum was inspired by Anne Frank House, so I saw the connection." The Museum is building a special case to house the coin, valued in the many thousands of dollars. Says Suson, "We are honored with this gift and think the coin will only add to our already poignant displays. While our Museum focuses on 9/11 and the "Recovery" – I think it will be nice to have this coin on display for our guests, as it represents the spirit of overcoming adversity under turbulent times. The history of the coin and its long, 70-year road to our Museum is truly remarkable."
While other US gold coins, in particular St. Gaudens, come from caches with other unique histories, several features contribute to the significance of this "Exile" group. When the coins arrived at NGC in Florida, many of them had bits of leather still adhering to the coins' rims. At the request of the French dealer, professionals at Numismatic Conservation Services expertly removed the leather so that the coins would be eligible for certification. Their unconventional storage in the leather coat imparted a number of the coins with a delicate reddish patina that was left untouched during conservation.
Another unusual feature is the uniformly high grade of these coins. Each graded from MS 63 to MS 67, with seven coins achieving this highest grade and a greater number grading each MS 66 and MS 66+. All are dated 1924 and 1925, with over three-quarters being from the latter date.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop can be contacted atGroundZeroMuseum@gmail.com. To purchase tickets to GZMW's daily 2-hour tours, call ZERVE at 212-209-3370. (Press Inquiries: Call Museum Direct: 212-924-1040).
To read the complete press release, see:
9/11 Museum to Display Rare Holocaust Coin
Wayne Homren, Editor
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