The Saints are marching in!
Congratulations to Joan Langbord. The 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling and stated that Joan Langbord is the owner of the ten 1933 Saint Gaudens double eagles.
I am sure the back story is old hat to most of you, but the double eagles were somehow taken from the mint in 1933, shortly before gold coins were removed from circulation by Franklin Roosevelt. The government had made circumstantial arguments that the coins were probably stolen by Israel Switt, Joan Langbord's father. Langbord "found" the coins and (foolhardily) sent them to the Secret Service to be authenticated. The secret service authenticated and confiscated them. In 2011 a federal jury ruled that the government had the right to keep the coins.
Read about the backstory on my website here. Or on my blog here. Or some other schmo's website here: http://saintgaudens.us/confiscated%20double%20eagles.html.
But the result of today's 2-1 vote was that it was the government that had broken the law. The government was required to either return the coins or commence a civil forfeiture proceeding within 90 days. The government did neither of these things. Todays ruling shows that even the Department of Justice is not above the law.
The government has been fixated on these coins for over 80 years (while oddly ignoring other similar cases such as the 1913 liberty head nickel). It is probably time for them to go on to something else.
Meanwhile, I admit it. I am giddy about today's decision. At some time in the future we will see some 1933 double eagles in the marketplace.
To the 1933 double eagles -- we look forward to seeing you back home in Philadelphia.