I’m going to have to travel into the past to tell this story properly. On the 5th of April, 19333 the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Presidential Executive Order 6102. This order forbid the hoarding of gold coins, gold bullion and gold certificates by the people of the U.S. There were a few dispensations on owning gold but as a matter or course unless you were a miner, banker, jeweler, etc. then the amount of gold you could have could not exceed either $100.00 face or bullion value. This edict of seizure went into effect on May 1, 1933. You turned in your gold or you were a bad American and most likely a criminal and would be treated as such. A large portion of the public moved to turn in all gold coins, bullion, and jewelry to the government.
Strangely enough on May 2, 1933 the government raised the value of gold from $35 an ounce to $50 an ounce internally instantly increasing the wealth of the government by 42% overnight. Since the government held a majority of the gold by this time, the wealth became instantly the government’s.
At the same time, the U.S. Mint had still been making gold coins. They had finished a batch of double eagles bearing the 1933 date and delivered them to the fed as they were supposed to. These were delivered on March 15th. The government seizure order didn’t come down until the 5th of April. That leaves a three-week period between the delivery to the treasury which could legally distribute these coins to the public and probably did. Here in lies the case however. The government has rigorously defended their claim that no 1933 double eagles ever left the care of the government and every one that did, did so by criminal means. So when a family found ten of the coins in a safe deposit box of their father, they asked the government to verify that they were indeed real and sent them to the treasury for verification. The government’s response was yes, they were real, and thank you for returning our property…you are dismissed now.
Well, that wanton act of seizure during what was supposed to be a friendly conversation has started a ten-year legal battle over the coins. It is funny seeing as how they are now valued near or about $80 million. The family sued and the government countered. How do you defend against an argument where the people involved have probably been dead for fifty years. Relying on documents and letters and mint vault ledgers, which the government’s expert witness called “untidy” and “scruffy” the mint maintained there was no way that a coin could leave the governments hands during the three weeks between delivery and the seizure order. This despite the fact that anyone could walk in to see the treasury cashier and make change, exchange an old coin for a new, etc. (Which by the way you can still do today). So very odd.
Here is the kicker, the judge, U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis Jr. held that, since no records showed coins being lawfully taken from the mint, they were almost certainly stolen. I’m sorry, because you couldn’t find a receipt. Wait, because you couldn’t find a 70+ year old receipt that the government should have held onto? Wait, wait, you mean the lack of a receipt on the government’s side actually helped their case and proved a third-party stole the coins…because the government said there was no receipt. Uhhh, okay.
The government will take what they want, and damn the people who try to stop them apparently. The government wanted these coins, because they have been telling a story about them for so long, they actually believe it. Despite the fact the government should have tried to prove they were stolen they said a lack of evidence proves they were stolen. Probably the first time in history that a lack of physical evidence was use to convict a faceless entity of a theft. wow, kudos to you government. That is phenomenal. Thanks for seizing what belongs to a private individual. I hope I never have anything you want, who knows what you’d be willing to do to get it.