I had a surprise phone call from a radio station in a nearby city yesterday. The topic the host of the program wanted to talk about was the recent court ruling that confirmed that the 10 1933 $20 gold pieces seized by the government from the family of Joan Langbord, daughter of Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt, do indeed belong to the federal government.
For collectors who followed last year’s jury trial, the judge’s current ruling is no surprise. It is the logical conclusion of it.
However, for anyone looking for examples of government overreach, this became the cause of the day.
Even though the Langbord family’s coins are much more valuable than the gold they contain, for a few minutes, they became representative of every gold owner who had to turn gold in during the 1933 recall and every current gold investor who fears that the government might recall gold again.
Coin collectors are sympathetic to the family. Some believe the coins were legally issued. Counter to that view, however, is how the courts have ruled.
These coins make a great story. Collectors would like to see them preserved whoever happens to be the legal owner at the end of the process.
If the government’s contention that the coins were stolen is true, that makes them stolen property. Getting stolen property back to its rightful owner it not judicial overreach. It is a principle that any of us who own anything, especially we coin collectors, rely on.
So even if we sympathize with the family, we can say so and then sleep well at night secure in the ownership rights attached to our collections because of how the court ruled Aug. 29.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”