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Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The World's Most Valuable Coin

Coin

The 1933 Double Eagle, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is the most valuable coin in the world.  One recently sold at auction for $7.59 million.  The coins are sought after for their beauty and because they are so incredibly rare.

Why are the coins so rare? It seems that most were intentionally destroyed by the U.S. government. As part of the plan to remove the U.S. from the gold standard, The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 outlawed the private possesssion of gold. The 1933 gold Double Eagles, which had been struck but not released to the public, were subsequently melted down and turned into gold bars.

Unbeknownst to officials at the Mint, however, a handful of the coins were stolen and ended up in the hands of Israel Switt, a Philadelphia jeweler. 

Ten of these coins surfaced in 2010, in a safety deposit box owned by Switt's family.  Discovering the stash, the government seized the bullion without compensating the family.

The Family sued.  In 2011, a jury decided that the coins belonged to the government. Last week, Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, affirmed that decision on appeal, saying "the coins in question were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint."

The family's attorney recently told ABCNews.com, "This is a case that raises many novel legal questions, including the limits on the government's power to confiscate property. The . . . family will be filing an appeal and looks forward to addressing these important issues before the 3rd Circuit."

Steve Clowney


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