We gave it a B+
Designed by the great sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the $20 gold piece (or double eagle) minted between 1907 and 1933 is widely considered to be the most beautiful coin ever produced in the U.S. It is undoubtedly the most storied: A double eagle, struck in 1933, fetched more than $7.5 million at an auction a few years ago. But what is most remarkable about that particular coin is not its incredible origins (all but three of the 445,000 double eagles made in 1933 were seized by federal agents) or its mysterious fate (the buyer remains unknown), but its incredible journey in between: a globe-spanning trail of intrigue and deceit that ended with a Secret Service sting in a suite at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. Tripp, a trained archaeologist and an expert on rare coins, draws on both skills in his first book Illegal Tender: His meticulous research adds a stamp of authenticity to what unspools like a Hollywood blockbuster.