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CFO Sink Returns Rare Century-old $20 Gold Coin

7/26/2007

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek or Brannon Jordan
(850) 413-2842
 
Most valuable coin ever held by the state’s Unclaimed Property Bureau
 
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today the return of a 1907 gold coin with an estimated value between $25,000 and $90,000 to the daughter of the late Tere Claiborne.  Representatives of the state’s Unclaimed Property program presented the coin Thursday to Phyllis Childers of Palm Beach County.
 
“I am pleased to be able to reunite this family with this beautiful historical heirloom," said CFO Sink who oversees the Department of Financial Services and the Bureau of Unclaimed Property (Bureau).
The early twentieth century collectible is a 1907 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle “High-Relief” $20 gold coin.  The term “High-Relief” refers to the extreme height that images are raised above the background of the coin, and only 12,367 coins were made due to the extreme difficulty of production.  One of the five most sought-after coins in America, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the design in 1906. 
 
The gold coin belonged to Phyllis Childers’ mother, Tere Claiborne, who passed away in 2000.  The family searched for years, but was unable to find the coin, which Mrs. Claiborne had placed in a safe deposit box on her way to a bridge game.  Phyllis Childers called the coin the “cornerstone of the family,” as it is believed that President Theodore Roosevelt personally gave the coin to Phyllis’ great-great-grandfather, Manuel Amador Guerrero, who was the first president of Panama from February 1904 to October 1908. 
 
The Bureau of Unclaimed Property currently holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion, mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings.  Since the program's inception 46 years ago, the Bureau has successfully reunited owners with more than $1 billion in unclaimed property. 

Currently there are 405,415 Unclaimed Property accounts in Palm Beach County totaling $72,060,579.80.  Unclaimed property can be claimed for free at any time by the rightful owners or heirs by logging on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or by calling the Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE.  Until claimed, the unclaimed funds are transferred to the state’s School Trust Fund to benefit public schools.  Since the program’s inception in 1961, more than $1.5 billion has been transferred to the fund. 
 
The Bureau also receives items that have been abandoned in safe deposit boxes for at least three years and spends up to two years searching for the rightful owners or heirs.  The Bureau has had tremendous success in finding owners.  In the past year alone, the Bureau returned a record 255,000 accounts valued at more than $171 million.  But when owners or heirs cannot be found, the safe deposit box contents are auctioned.  While the proceeds from the auctioned items are transferred to the state's Public School Trust Fund, the money is held in the original owner’s name and can be claimed for free at any time.
 
CFO Sink announced that the Bureau will hold an auction this year in Orlando on Saturday, August 4, 2007, in the Florida Hotel and Conference Center at the Florida Mall.  The auction will offer more than 40,000 items including collectibles, jewelry, and historic coins.  A preview of auction items will be held on Friday, August 3, 2007, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The auction will be held on Saturday, August 4, from 10 a.m. until all items are sold.  Specific items up for sale include an un-circulated 1882 silver dollar, baseballs autographed by Hank Aaron and Don Larsen, diamond jewelry, Spanish colonial silver coins, a $500 bill, and a platinum ring with a 17 ct. natural sapphire.
 
Participation is open to all Floridians.  To participate in the preview and auction, potential bidders will be required to register with the auctioneer and provide a valid ID with current address and refundable $100 cash deposit that can also be applied to any purchases.   Most bank debit cards are permitted for payment of the $100 deposit.  Payments for purchases must be made with cash, traveler's check, most bank debit cards, or cashiers check made payable to Fisher Auction Co.  For additional information on terms for participating, please visit http://www.fltreasurehunt.org/ and click on “upcoming auction.”
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink  oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.