U.S. MINT CONFISCATES GOLD "DOUBLE EAGLE" COINS
Submitted by Charleston Voice
Aug. 25, 2005
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The U.S. Mint seized ten $20 "double eagle" gold pieces, among the world's rarest and most valuable coins, that were turned in by a jeweler [now here's a jeweler to avoid!...CV] to determine their authenticity.
Joan S. Langbord, who found the coins among the possessions of her father, longtime Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, plans a federal court lawsuit to try to recover them, her attorney, Barry H. Berke, said Wednesday.
David Lebryk, acting director of the Mint, said the rare coins, which were never put in circulation, were public property.
Lebryk had announced in a news release that the coins received from Langbord were "recovered" after being taken from the Mint "in an unlawful manner more than 70 years ago."
But Berke said Mint officials couldn't prove the coins had been stolen, or were subject to forfeiture.
A single double eagle was auctioned at Sotheby's/Stack's in 2002 for $7.59 million, the highest price ever paid for a coin.
Langbord declined to discuss how the coins might have come into the possession of her father, who operated an antique and jewelry shop for 70 years and died in 1990 at the age of 95. "Until this is resolved, there is nothing I can say," Langbord said Wednesday.
Berke said only that the coins were found recently. Langbord and her son, Roy., notified the Mint of the discovery [BIG MISTAKE!...CV] in September, Berke said.
He said Mint officials asked to authenticate the coins, then confiscated them after doing so.
Berke said Langbord and her son never relinquished their right to the coins, and argued in a July 25 letter to the Mint that the seizure was unjustified.
Only 445,500 of the double eagles were minted, in 1933. The coins, designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, were never circulated, and the Mint's inventory was melted into gold bars in 1937 [How do we know this as thousands have surfaced in European central banks!...CV] after the country went off the gold standard. Only a few coins escaped the melting pot, including two that are at the Smithsonian Institution.
Switt had acknowledged in 1944 that he had sold nine of the coins, according to the Mint, which said in its history, "Switt professed no recollection of his source for the coins."
The double eagles may be put on exhibit, but in the meantime they are secured in the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Ky., the Mint said.
The history of the 1933 gold coin can be viewed here: http://www.nationmaster.com
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