Tripp, David 1951-

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TRIPP, David 1951-

(David Enders Tripp)

PERSONAL: Born August 24, 1951, in New York, NY; son of Paul and Ruth Beatrice (Enders) Tripp; married Susan Turner Gerwe, June 9, 1977. Education: New York University, B.A., 1972; London University, M.A., 1973. Hobbies and other interests: Archaeology, antiquities and classical civilizations, paleontology, wildlife conservation, film history.

ADDRESSES: Home—Columbia County, NY. Office—P.O. Box G, Stuyvesant, NY 12173.

CAREER: Appeared on television programs, including Mike and Buff, 1953, On the Carousel, 1954–59, and Birthday House, 1963–68, and in films, including The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, 1965, and Tubby the Tuba, 1977. British School at Rome, Narce, Italy, archaeologist and photographer, 1969–71; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, NY, director of coins and medals, 1973–75, assistant vice president and director of coins, tapestries, and musical instruments, 1976–79, Baltimore representative, 1979–80. Guest lecturer at New York University and Johns Hopkins University.

MEMBER: American Numismatic Society (member of standing library committee; elected fellow, 2002), American Numismatic Association, National Cartoonists Society, Authors Guild, Royal Numismatic Society (fellow), Swiss Numismatic Society, Friends of the American Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art, American Friends of the British Museum, Player's Club (life member).

AWARDS, HONORS: Named Outstanding Young Man of America, 1982; named Community Leader of America, 1983; Numismatic Literature Guild Extraordinary Merit Award, 1991, and 2000; Auction Catalogue of the Year Award, 2001; Best Auction Catalogue, 2002, and Book of the Year, 2005; Robert Friedberg Literary Award, 2005, for Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle.


Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle, Free Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to Etruscan Life and Afterlife: A Handbook of Etruscan Studies, edited by Larissa Bonfante, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1986. Contributing cartoonist, The Companion Cat, 1990. Artist for comic strip "Sadie" in Cat Fancy, 1985–; guest columnist, Rockland Independent, 1965.

SIDELIGHTS: David Tripp formerly served as the assistant vice president and director of Sotheby Parke Bernet's rare coin, tapestry, and musical-instruments department. In addition, he has served on the U.S. Mint's Citizens Coinage advisory committee, which is responsible for designing the appearance of U.S. coins. Tripp mines his diverse expertise in his book, Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle.

Illegal Tender tells the story of the U.S. twenty dollar gold piece, nicknamed the "double eagle," that was minted between the years 1907 and 1933. In the latter year the Roosevelt Administration outlawed the private ownership of gold and stopped minting gold coins. The 1933 double eagles, stopped in mid-production, were confiscated and melted down. However, a few of the coins ended up in the hands of collectors. Federal agents had tracked most of these missing coins down, but one still remained at large. In 2002, that double eagle was auctioned for more than seven and a half million dollars. Tripp traces the history of this last remaining double eagle coin through a string of unscrupulous coin dealers, to its auction, to a vault at the World Trade Center, from which it was removed only days before the attacks of September eleventh.

Wook Kim, in a review for Entertainment Weekly, remarked that "meticulous research adds a stamp of authenticity to what unspools like a Hollywood blockbuster." David Van de Streek, in a review for Library Journal, wrote that Illegal Tender "provides an exhaustively researched narrative," and that Tripp's "engaging record of an important numismatic saga has the suspense of a whodunit." Gilbert Taylor, writing for Booklist, remarked that, "containing multiple seductions,… Tripp's able debut might be a sleeper." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews stated that the book's "account of the tortuous recapture of all known 'escaped' coins makes for exciting reading. A true-life thriller—and, yes, there just might be more Double Eagles out there." In a review for Publishers Weekly, a contributor commented that the "entertaining narrative is made more so by the many dramatic, sometimes nefarious characters of the coin trade, whom he [Tripp] paints in all their seediness."

Tripp told CA: "On August 11, 2005, the U.S. Mint reported the recovery of ten more 1933 double eagles. These came from the family of a deeply implicated character in Illegal Tender, Israel Switt. Switt was the only source identified by the Secret Service as the purveyor of all known 1933 double eagles. In December, 1937, he bragged that he had twenty-five double eagles and had sold only fourteen of them. This information was provided to the Secret Service in 1944, but was never acted on. Switt's family apparently reacted to the information in Illegal Tender, which stated that the coins were considered stolen property, and 'returned' them to the government. A new round of legal battle is certain to ensue. It is a fascinating experience to this writer to see his labors perhaps act as the catalyst to yet another chapter of this extraordinary story—one that simply gets richer and richer."



Booklist, September 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle, p. 38.

Entertainment Weekly, September 3, 2004, Wook Kim, review of Illegal Tender, p. 79.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Illegal Tender, p. 679.

Library Journal, September 1, 2004, David Van de Streek, review of Illegal Tender, p. 169.

Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2004, review of Illegal Tender, p. 40.


U.S. Mint Web site, (May 16, 2003), "Newly-established Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee Welcomes Members."