Family Fights US Mint Over Rare Coins

1933 double-eagles were supposed to have been destroyed
By Luke Kelly-Clyne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2011 1:22 PM CDT
This undated file photo combination released by the US Mint, shows the two sides of a 1933 "double eagle" gold coin.   (AP Photo/U.S. Mint, File)

(Newser) – A Philadelphia family is going head-to-head with the US government in a legal battle over ownership of 10 rare "double-eagle" coins worth $20 each when minted, and now valued in the millions. The coins were first produced by the US Mint in 1933 but never distributed. All but two were supposed to have been destroyed, but 10 somehow ended up in the hands of gold dealer Israel Switt, explains the New York Times. His heirs say they found them in a safety deposit box after he died and are fighting to keep them.

The government says that Switt stole these coins—and others, possibly with the help of a cashier at the Philadelphia Mint—and that his family knows they're stolen and should return them. It says Switt is linked to every double-eagle that's shown up over the past 70-odd years, including one sold by a dealer in 2002 for $7.6 million. The family's attorney argues that his clients could have gotten the coins through any number of legal scenarios and calls this an example of government abuse of power.

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