An amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief filed May 11 with U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the Professional Numismatists Guild warning of ?dire consequences? for collectors and museums because the federal government?s seizure of 10 1933 double eagles from a Pennsylvania family could lead to confiscation of other types of rare coins was accepted by the court a week later.
The brief was written by PNG?s legal counsel, Armen R. Vartian of Manhattan Beach, Calif. The brief was filed along with a motion requesting the court?s permission for PNG to participate in the case as a friend of the court. This motion was granted.
Courts may grant amicus curiae recognition to individuals or groups who are not a direct party to the particular litigation but who believe the court?s decisions in the case may affect their interests..
In the court filing, PNG claims that ?pattern coins, presentation pieces, special proofs, and experimental coins, which passed from the Mint as presentations to a domestic or foreign dignitary, or by outright sale or trade with collectors? and which are ?currently residing peacefully in public and private collections across the country? would be ?at risk? if the government is allowed to keep the 10 1933 double eagles voluntarily submitted to the United States Mint for authentication in 2004 by heirs of the late Philadelphia jeweler, Israel Switt.
The brief states in part:
?The Government?s theory in this case, however, is that the 1933 double eagle cannot be owned and sold by private collectors because it was not issued and circulated as legal tender by the Mint, and must therefore have been stolen. If all coins that were not issued into circulation as legal tender, but left the Mint through known or unknown means were illegal to own, and the Government could proceed decades later to reclaim the coins, then a large number of the most interesting coins minted during U.S. history ? currently residing peacefully in public and private collections across the country ? would be at risk.?
This is the second time PNG has filed an amicus curiae brief in a case involving the famous 1933 double eagles. In February 2000, the organization filed a motion in support of London, England, dealer Stephen Fenton?s ownership of one of the coins. The federal government eventually sold the coin at a public auction and paid Fenton a fee based on a portion of the record $7.59 million winning bid for it.
Founded in 1955, the PNG (www.PNGdealers.com) is a nonprofit organization composed of more than 250 rare coin and paper money dealers
For additional information about the Professional Numismatists Guild, contact PNG, 3950 Concordia Lane, Fallbrook, CA 92028. Phone: (760) 728-1300. E-mail: info@PNGdealers.com.