The federal government must give back a set of ultra-rare and valuable 1930s coins to the family from which they were seized, an appeals court has ruled.

I’m sorry. I feel like that sentence doesn’t really do this story justice. I wish I could appropriately amp this up. Here, play this and read it again. Better?

I hope so! Because these 10 rare coins aren’t just any rare coins. They’re extraordinarily rare — and extraordinarily valuable. The 1933 Double Eagles were found in a safe deposit box in 2003 and later seized by the government.

The history of the coins remains somewhat murky. And their fate has been in limbo for years.

“The 1933 Double Eagle is one of the most intriguing coins of all time,” Jay Brahin, an investment adviser and coin collector, told Bloomberg News in 2011. “It’s a freak. The coins shouldn’t have been minted, but they were. They weren’t meant to circulate, but some did.

“And why has the government pursued them so arduously? That’s one of the mysteries.”

Late last week, a federal appeals court found that the 10 coins should be returned to the family of the Israel Switt, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Essentially, the court found that the government didn’t respond to a claim by a deadline, so the coins — which the U.S. Treasury had argued were stolen — must go back to Joan Langbord and her two sons, Roy and David.

“The Court’s decision upholds the rule of law and makes clear that the government will be held accountable when it violates the rights of its citizens and the clear mandate of Congress,” the family’s attorney, Barry Berke, said in a statement e-mailed to The Post. “The Langbords are thrilled to receive their property back after fighting to vindicate their rights for over a decade.”

According to the AP, the coins were seized more than a decade ago:

The family had taken the coins to the Secret Service in Philadelphia to have them examined, Berke said.
“They authenticated the coins and said, ‘Thank you very much. We will now be keeping them,'” he said.

The court battle over the coins has stretched on for years. When presenting the case before jurors in 2011, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero called the tale a “remarkable and intriguing story about gold coins that were stolen from the U.S. Mint,” according to the New York Times.

She wasn’t kidding.

Coins like those found in the Switt deposit box have a history that includes an Egyptian king. The Smithsonian has a pair.

Few others do, and they are valued accordingly: The 1933 Double Eagles originally had a face value of $20, but in 2002, one sold at auction for more than $7 million.

Israel Switt died in 1990, and Joan Langbord, his daughter, has said she has  “no idea” how her father ended up with the stash.

The U.S Mint believes that Switt collaborated with a Mint employee to smuggle out a number of 1933 double eagles after President Roosevelt issued a series of executive orders recalling the nation’s gold coinage (the United States was in the midst of a banking crisis at the time). While 445,000 double eagles bearing the date 1933 were struck, fewer than 25 discreet examples are known to have been held in private hands.

Patricia Hartman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger in Philadelphia, told Reuters that federal officials were “weighing our options” after the appeals court ruling.

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