Apparently, this case is not quite “closed.”
The family that found 10 of the “illegal to own” 1933 gold double eagle coins in a safe deposit box is scheduled to appear in court in November for a review of the 2011 judgment that the coins still belong to the U.S. government.
According to CoinWeek, a panel in the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals (located in Philadelphia, PA) will review arguments by both sides (the government versus the Langbord family) to determine the fate of the priceless coins. The coins were discovered in the safe deposit box of the Langbord’s deceased patriarch, and were given to the U.S. Mint for authentication–at which point the Mint and the Treasury Department deemed the specimens to be the property of the U.S. government. (Shocking, ain’t it?) This stance relies on the argument that although some number of 1933 double eagles were struck, none were intended to be issued and therefore they did not receive legal tender status.
The Saint-Gaudens gold double eagle has a reputation as one of America’s most beloved coins, as well as bearing the largest denomination ($20) of any circulation-strike coin in U.S. history. Among the rest of the coins in the series, the elusive 1933 Saint-Gaudens is by far the most coveted, as just one example–originally from the private collection of Egypt’s infamous King Farouk–is known to exist in private hands; prior to the discovery of these ten specimens, it was believed the rest of the 1933-dated double eagles were confiscated and melted down.
The outcome of this case could be groundbreaking: a reversal would likely bring ten desperately sought-after examples of the 1933 Saint-Gaudens into the market, while a failed appeal would considerably strengthen the Mint’s position on confiscating “experimental” strikes that were never officially monetized, much like the ongoing controversy involving the aluminum 1974-D Lincoln penny.
Whatever the result, the November 20th decision is sure to draw the undivided attention of the numismatic community, which is typically the case whenever the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is mentioned!