BrianRxm Coins on Television 20/24
The Streets of San Francisco - A Collection of Eagles (1973)
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This 1973 episode of the television program "The Streets of San Francisco" shows
United States $20 gold coins of the St. Gaudens variety which were made from 1907 to 1933.
These coins were known as "double eagles", hence the title of the episode.
 
This program starred Karl Malden and Michael Douglas as a pair of San Francisco plainclothes detectives,
Lt. Mike Stone and Inspector Steve Keller, who solve major crimes in that city.
Stone is a long time street-smart policeman and Keller is his assistant with a college degree.
 
This episode is titled "A Collection of Eagles" and was first broadcast on February 1, 1973.
 
The episode also features a blank gold planchet as part of the story.
Streets of San Francisco
1. Title
 
"The Streets of San Francisco" was an television show which ran from 1972 to 1977.
 
The production was a police drama about a pair of San Francisco plainclothes detectives,
Lt. Mike Stone and Inspector Steve Keller, who solve major crimes in that city.
Stone was a long time street-smart policeman and Keller was his assistant with a college degree.
 
The story was about a criminal rare coin dealer who sets up a scheme to create fake
United States twenty dollar gold coins, substitute them for the real coins being
held by a wealthy retired businessman, then sell the real coins to foreign buyers.
 
The coin dealer's girlfriend is working for the businessman as a personal assistant and
she is writing a book about him.
 
The program stars Karl Malden as Detective Lt. Mike Stone and Michael Douglas as
Inspector Steve Keller. It was produced by Quinn Martin Productions and
Warner Brothers Television for the ABC Television Network.
 
The title "A Collection of Eagles" comes from the term "double eagles", which American gold coins
of this type were called. Gold coins of this type circulated until 1933.
 
The episode explored details of the counterfeiting, the relationship between the businessman and
his assistant, and the research and laboratory work which enable the police to apprehend the criminals.
 
The episode stars:
John Saxon as Vincent 'Vince' Hagopian Jr.
Belinda Montgomery as Karen Pearson
Joseph Cotten as John R. James
Jamie Farr as Ernie Walker
Hari Rhodes as Charlie Johnson, the lab technician
It was written by Robert I. Holt and Edward Hume, and directed by Walter Grauman.
 
Joseph Cotten appeared in many films of the 1940's and 1950's, including "The Third Man".
Possibly Belinda Montgomery was chosen because she somewhat resembled "The Third Man"
actress Alida Valli.
 
Supposedly a real San Francisco coin shop was used for the filming.
 
Streets of San Francisco
2. San Francisco lights
 
San Francisco is "sin city"
 
The episode starts with Vincent, the coin dealer, in the back of his coin shop
where he is making fake coins.
He has sent Ernie Walker, a local man, to Mexico to pick up blank gold planchets.
 
Streets of San Francisco
3. Ernie arrives from Mexico
 
Ernie has arrived in San Francisco with the goods and is staying in a low-rent hotel.
 
Vincent's assistant Tommy heads to Ernie's room, kills him, then steals a suitcase.
The thief is sloppy and spills some items on the floor.
 
Streets of San Francisco
4. The police arrive
 
The detectives Stone and Keller arrive at Ernie's hotel room.
 
The detectives find a pistol in the room, a 32 caliber, also a round item
which Keller says looks like "an old good luck coin".
 
The "Good Luck coins", actually tokens, were usually 32mm in diameter.
The diameter of the $20 gold coin is 34mm, which might be "close".
 
An example of a "Good Luck coin"from the 1930's:
 
Token Swami Good Luck
5. Good Luck Coin with Swami and All-Seeing Eye
 
Bronze, 32mm, 11.97gm
 
Obverse:
"Swami" or Fortune Teller wearing turban gazing into crystal ball.
Swastika appears on crystal ball.
GOOD LUCK WILL ACCOMPANY THE BEARER
 
Reverse:
Good luck symbols
Swastika, Key-lock, Four-Leaf Clover, Elephant, Horseshoe, Rabbit's Foot, Wishbone
All-Seeing Eye below
THE ALL SEEING EYE / GUARDS YOU FROM EVIL
 
Streets of San Francisco
6. Item found in hotel room
 
The police find something unusual in the room
 
Mr. John James is a wealthy retired businessman who lives in a large apartment in the city,
in the wealthy "Nob Hill" area.
 
Streets of San Francisco
7. James' apartment with coin display case
 
The nice furnishings here indicate man of wealth and taste.
 
Streets of San Francisco
8. Close-up of the display case
 
United States dollar 20 1927
9. United States $20 gold St. Gaudens variety 1927
 
Streets of San Francisco
10. James
 
Mr. James, the wealthy retired businessman.
 
James has a collection of United States $20 gold coins which he keeps in a display case.
 
He has a maid working for him, and staying with him is Karen Pearson, a young woman
who is writing a book about his life and sometimes acting as a personal assistant.
Karen has no interest in coins.
 
Streets of San Francisco
11. Karen, the personal assistant
 
He plans to donate the collection to a university, and explains to Karen that
when he first moved to San Francisco to start his business, he had a double eagle
which he had to spend, and he has always wanted to "have it back".
 
Karen enjoys hearing his stories of the "old days" in San Francisco.
However, she met Vincent on one of his coin-related visits, he romanced her,
and now has made her his "inside" partner in his scheme.
 
Both Karen and James like to wear red clothes, the significance may appear later.
 
James tells Karen that "I'm an eccentric old man".
He also tells her that the coin collection is worth half a million dollars.
 
James likes to smoke and tell stories to Karen, who is an appreciative listener.
 
The police laboratory technician Johnson examines the mysterious item from the deceased
man's hotel room.
 
Johnson, the laboratory technician, explains that it is a planchet.
 
Streets of San Francisco
12. Johnson explains to Stone and Keller
 
Keller knows what a planchet is, a metal disk that is made to be stamped into a coin.
Keller explains that he works crossword puzzles.
 
Johnson then describes the coin that would be made from this kind of planchet,
a twenty dollar gold piece, about one ounce of gold.
 
He then hands the detectives a "Red Book".
It is interesting that he just happens to have a "Red Book", unless he is a member of the lodge.
 
The "Red Book" is A Guide Book of United States Coins,
by R. S. Yeoman (Author), Kenneth Bressett (Editor), published yearly since 1947,
now by Krause Publications. It comes in a red cover, hence the name.
 
Back at the police office, Stone and Keller look at the "Red Book"
 
Streets of San Francisco
13. Stone and Keller with a "Red Book"
 
They wonder what was somebody living in a run-down hotel was doing with gold planchets.
Keller states that an ounce of gold is worth 65 or 70 on international market.
 
The Coroner calls detectives, says that the man was killed.
 
Vincent is hard at work making his counterfeits, they have to match
the real coins by date and mintmark, a major operation.
 
Streets of San Francisco
14. Vincent and Tommy working back of shop
 
Karen visits Vincent at his shop.
 
Streets of San Francisco
15. Karen arrives at the shop
 
She is unconfortable with the scheme and wants to back out,
but Vincent talks her into continuing.
 
Vincent takes Karen out for a walk through downtown San Francisco.
Karen gives Vincent a diagram of the coins in the case with locations and dates.
Vincent keeps telling her about how much fun they will have with the money from the crime.
 
Streets of San Francisco
16. Vincent Karen walk down the street
 
The street is Maiden Lane.
 
Vince explains why he wants to steal the coins:
"Stop worrying, he lives on top of Nob Hill"
"I watched while my father pandered to them"
"I want to see the world".
 
Streets of San Francisco
17. Vincent and Karen
 
Ransohoff's women's fashion store was still in business then.
 
Streets of San Francisco
18. The St. Francis Hotel in the background
 
The St. Francis Hotel is located in the downtown area of Union Square.
 
Streets of San Francisco
19. Vincent and Karen at Union Square
 
Macy's Department Store is in the background.
 
They board a cable car.
 
Streets of San Francisco
20. They hop on a Powell Street Cable Car
 
One of San Francisco's famous cable cars.
 
Vincent has made dies for creating the fakes, again, a lot of work.
 
Streets of San Francisco
21. Vincent's coin stamping die
 
Tommy does not like Vincent calling Karen, he is almost jealous of her.
Vince says that the call "is just business".
 
Vincent telephones Karen about the scheme.
 
Back at the police headquarters, the laboratory finds the pistol serial number.
 
Streets of San Francisco
22. Stone and Keller at the police laboratory
 
The victim's clothing had salt water and ship paint, which identifies him
as having been on a boat near the ocean.
 
The detectives receive a teletype from San Diego that the gun was stolen,
and identifies the thief as Ernie Walker.
 
Vincent has his fakes labeled and ready to subsitute for the real ones.
The holders would also have to match the ones that James uses.
 
Streets of San Francisco
23. The fakes all ready to go
 
He decides that Tommy is no longer of use and gives him an extra strong shot of dope.
 
Mr. James explains to Karen that he is going to give his coin collection
to a University and concentrate on growing roses.
 
Streets of San Francisco
24. James with his roses
 
Stone and Keller head out to lunch.
 
Streets of San Francisco
25. Mama's Washington Square restaurant
 
The restaurant is still in business on Stockton Street
 
Then they take a walk through the North Beach area.
They discuss why did Ernie, who lived in SF, go to San Diego.
Because it is close to Mexico and Mexican gold refiners.
 
Streets of San Francisco
26. Stone and Keller walking
 
Keller comes up with the idea that the planchets are going to be used for
making counterfeit gold coins.
They would be hard to sell, because "those guys can tell a phony".
Keller plans to call the "numismatic society".
Stone tells Keller that he knows what numismatic means, he has a worked a
few crossword puzzles himself.
 
Streets of San Francisco
27. Stone and Keller church
 
The church in the background is the Saint Peter And Paul Catholic Church, located at 666 Filbert Street.
 
A second body (of Vincent's assistant) is found washed up near San Francisco.
 
Stone and Keller have a list of coin experts from the "numismatic society" and they call some.
 
Vincent gets call from Karen.
 
Streets of San Francisco
28. Karen calls Vincent
 
Vincent then gets a call from the detectives who ask him to come in.
He is worried but not too much.
 
Stone and Keller are researching rare coins and attempting to find who has the money to afford them.
 
They reason that somebody who is going to counterfeit gold coins will do the most expensive ones.
They find that a "1907 extra high relief $20 gold coin is worth $22.000.
 
A coin expert appears at Stone's office.
 
Streets of San Francisco
29. Coin expert comes in
 
Yes, it is him.
 
The detectives ask Vincent for a list of "all the coin collectors in the city".
(That would be some list)
 
They tell him they are looking for a counterfeiter.
Vincent tells them that the counterfeits would be swapped for real coins because
"how many coin collectors look at their coins after several years?".
He also tells them that the 1907 coin is too rare to counterfeit.
 
The detectives now have more numismatic research material, including
coin magazines and catalogs.
 
Looking in a coin catalog Stone and Keller find that John James bought a 1907,
owns many other rare coins, and lives in San Francisco.
 
James was not on the list that Vincent gave the detectives, which makes them suspicious.
 
Stone and Keller call Vincent back to ask him about this, but he has already left for James apartment.
 
Streets of San Francisco
30. Stone and Keller
 
Lots of numismatic research material on the desk
 
Back at James' apartment, he and Karen are getting ready for the evening.
 
Streets of San Francisco
31. James and Karen
 
James shows Karen one of his coins, soon they will be gone.
 
James explains the 1907 is the rarest he owns and that hepaid a fortune for it.
He tell her that he started his collection because his uncle Henry gave him a gold coin
on his 7th birthday and he spent it later to buy a train ticket to San Francisco.
 
Karen tells James that she would rather think of the roses than the coins.
 
Karen locks up the case for the evening.
 
Streets of San Francisco
32. Karen locks the display case
 
But leaves the lock unclosed.
 
Streets of San Francisco
33. Vincent looking at the display case
 
While Karen and James are talking in another room, Vincent arrives.
 
Streets of San Francisco
34. James tells Karen some more about his life
 
"Then I met this guy named Harry Lime"
(No, that is not in the episode).
 
Karen checks the display case and finds it locked, which means that Vincent has been there.
 
Streets of San Francisco
35. Karen unhappy
 
James tells her that the coins are going to the English department,
and mentions that he got her name from dean at the university.
He also tells her that he wants to name a beautiful rose after her.
She is becoming more distraught at the choice that she has made.
 
The police arrive at James' apartment.
 
Streets of San Francisco
36. Stone and Keller arrive at apartment
 
Karen was still in the apartment and heard the police coming.
Stone and Keller look at the display case.
 
Streets of San Francisco
37. Stone and Keller look at the display case
 
The detectives explain to James that he might have some counterfeit coins,
and that they are investigating two murders possibly connected to the scheme.
 
James tells the detectives that he has forty double eagles,
The detectives ask if he knows Mr. Hagopian, the coin dealer,
he replies that he bought coins from him before he died.
 
Vincent is the son, but, according to James, he doesn't have the love for coins that his father did.
Stone calls his office and wants a "make" on Hagopian's coin shop on Maiden Lane.
(Maiden Lane is near the St. Francis Hotel and Union Square, very expensive real estate)
 
Keller puts on white gloves to examine the coins in the display case.
 
Streets of San Francisco
38. White gloves
 
He tells James that they have two murders tied to this case.
 
Streets of San Francisco
39. Stone and Keller with James
 
Keller is wearing white gloves.
 
James tells the officers that he has a maid and a house guest (Karen).
 
Stone and Keller hand the coin to James, who agrees that something is wrong.
James examines coin and finds scratches and realizes it is not same coin.
James states that it is a 1883 proof with only 40 in existence.
 
The police want to find Karen and the maid tells them that she drove off in car.
James explains that she met Vincent, he introduced them when Vincent arrived
one time to make a delivery.
James denies her involvement, but then realizes that she had to be in on it.
 
Back at the coin shop, Vincent is getting ready to make off the real coins.
 
Karen comes to the shop and tells Vincent about the police at the apartment.
She still wants to abort the scheme.
 
Streets of San Francisco
40. Karen arrives at the shop
 
Vincent is ready to leave and he tells her:
"I don't need you, your whining mouth or you pawing me".
He slugs her and knocks her down, then gets ready to inject her with something.
 
Stone and Keller arrive at the shop, halting Vincent's evil plan for Karen.
She gets up to see what is going on.
 
Streets of San Francisco
41. Stone arrives at Vincent's shop
 
Vincent pulls a gun and Keller is forced to shoot him.
 
Streets of San Francisco
42. Stone hides behind a store coin display case
 
Streets of San Francisco
43. Karen and Keller
 
Vincent pulls a gun and tries to shoot it out with the cops.
 
Streets of San Francisco
44. The bad guy gets his
 
Another case closed by Stone and Keller.
Back at the police office, they do the necessary paperwork.
 
Streets of San Francisco
45. Stone and Keller at the office
 
Stone is holding a coin magazine.
 
A man brings in two small wrapped gifts for the detectives.
The gifts are from Mr. James and are United States silver dollars.
 
Streets of San Francisco
46. Stone looks at gift silver dollar
 
The silver dollars are dated 1882, and look uncirculated.
They appear to be in some kind of plastic holders.
Stone and Keller look at their "Red Book" to find out how much they are worth.
 
Streets of San Francisco
47. Looking at the "Red Book"
 
"We're rich, four dollars apiece!"
 
Streets of San Francisco
48. Desk with "Red Book", silver dollars, and note
 
Streets of San Francisco
49. Close-up of the silver dollars
 
Notes:
 
This episode was set and filmed in San Francisco, California, but it could have been set
in any large American city.
 
Forty years of inflation have increased the prices of the rare coins in this show,
1907 extremely high relief $20 gold coins have sold for several hundred thousand dollars.
 
This episode depicted a coin shop in 1973, when coin dealers wore suits.
Notes:
 
Cast:
Karl Malden as Detective Lt. Mike Stone
Michael Douglas as Inspector Steve Keller
John Saxon as Vincent 'Vince' Hagopian Jr.
Belinda Montgomery as Karen Pearson
Joseph Cotten as John R. James
Hari Rhodes as Charlie Johnson, Lab Technician
 
Director: Walter Grauman
Writers: Robert I. Holt, Edward Hume
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