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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Battle over rare gold eagle coins
A Double Eagle gold coin
The Double Eagle gold coins never entered into circulation
The US Mint has seized 10 Double Eagle gold coins - some of the rarest and most valuable in the world - from a woman checking their authenticity.

The Mint says the coins, which never entered circulation, are public property and is holding them at a fort.

Joan Langbord, who says she inherited the coins from her father, a jeweller, has vowed to fight to get them back.

The gold Double Eagle is so rare that in 2002 a single coin reached a price of $7.59m at auction.

But the US Mint says that Mrs Langbord's coins could only have been originally obtained in an "unlawful manner" in the 1930s.


After the US abandoned the gold standard in 1933, the government ordered all Double Eagles to be melted.

A number of coins disappeared from the Mint in 1937, when nearly 500,000 coins were recalled and destroyed.

Ms Langbord, 75, now runs her father's business and says she discovered the coins among his possessions.

Israel Switt admitted to selling nine of the gold coins in the 1940s but he was never charged with those sales.

She says she merely sent the coins to the Mint to check that they were genuine and never agreed to give up her right to them.

The profits of the last Double Eagle to be auctioned were split between the US treasury and the seller, Stephen Fenton.

Mr Fenton was arrested by Secret Service agents when he tried to sell the coin in a New York hotel.

The Mint says it will not auction the coins but is still deciding what to do with them.

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