Israel “Izzy” Switt

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Israel “Izzy” Switt, despite unflattering portrayals linked to the investigation of the 1933 Double Eagle, was cherished by his family as a benevolent father and grandfather. Known for his generosity, he dedicated both wealth and time to Philadelphia Hospital and the city’s Home for the Jewish Aged. His family fondly recalled how Switt, a hard-working entrepreneur, regularly shared his prosperity. Contrary to the Secret Service’s depiction as a “gold coin bootlegger” with a criminal record, the Switt remembered by his family was a man who distributed cases of salamis, bottles of kosher wine during Passover, and creatively adorned pumpkins with costume jewelry for Halloween to gift to police officers and firefighters.

An advocate for uncommon relationships in his era, Switt had an African American business partner, challenging societal norms in Philadelphia. His family reminisced about him making pickles at home and becoming famous within the family for his signature “ipsy-pipsy” fruit punch. Beyond these personal attributes, Switt’s investment decisions revealed his genuine interests – he bought stock in McDonald’s not as a savvy investor but because of his love for the fast-food chain’s hamburgers at the drive-through on the turnpike between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, where the Switt and Silver families shared a house.

In contrast to the notion of a hidden agenda, Switt’s grandson, Roy Langbord, emphasized his straightforward nature. Described as a man with no pretense, Switt would readily dismiss those he disliked and go to great lengths to assist his friends. Despite his wealth, he remained unassuming, never entertaining the thought of buying a Cadillac. For Switt, his priorities were clear – he loved his family, his store, and was deeply committed to charitable endeavors, leaving a legacy of sincerity and benevolence.

The Secret Service investigation implicated George McCann as the individual responsible for substituting double eagles with different dates for the 1933 specimens he sold to Switt and Ira Reed. Initiated in the 1940s, the investigation was likely triggered by the revelation of the Flanigan specimen in the 1944 Stack’s sale. By that time, McCann was retired, if not deceased, yet the Secret Service had sworn statements from other mint employees still in service. Despite these efforts, the investigation yielded no further developments, with the Secret Service continuing to confiscate other 1933 double eagles from various sources like J. Stack, Eliasberg, and an individual in Tennessee.

Through second-hand information, a prominent coin dealer expressed readiness to testify in the Fenton/Perino controversy that he knew the whereabouts of at least four other 1933 double eagles as of 1997. He held the opinion that the Fenton/Perino coin was not the same as the Farouk coin.

Did Israel “Izzy” Switt stoled the 1933 DE?

The argument positing the theft of 1933 Double Eagles lacks substantial evidence. While it is acknowledged that McCann might have been involved in illicit activities, such as theft or unreported income, it is not reasonable to conclude that he specifically stole the mentioned coins.
In 1933, the legal dynamics differed from the present scenario. During March of that year, a gold depositor possessed the legal entitlement to present gold at the Mint and, in turn, receive gold coins. If, however, the coins were exchanged without proper documentation, the superintendent might have faced minimal repercussions, possibly a minor reprimand. The Mint retained the authority to issue gold coins in exchange for bullion, even in coin form, until early April 1933, when this prerogative was revok. The challenge lies in the uncertainty surrounding the timing of the coin switch. If the exchange occurred prior to the FDR edict in early April 1933, it would have been within the bounds of legality. However, if the switch transpired afterward, it would have violated the edict.

A weakly reasoned assertion suggests that Switt’s sales of 1933 Double Eagles after the melting process began in 1937 implicates him in the theft of these coins in 1936. However, two more plausible explanations emerge. First, Switt could have acquired the coins before 1936, considering their rarity and his status as a licensed gold trader. Sellers may have naturally approached his store. Second, Switt might have traded ‘common date’ Double Eagles for 1933 Double Eagles in 1933, leveraging his knowledge of the scarcity of 1932 and 1931 Double Eagles. The assertion that the 1933 double eagles held a special value in 1933 is inaccurate. The Mint Bureau explicitly communicated to the public on multiple occasions that it did not prioritize rare dates, explicitly mentioning examples like the 1913 Liberty Head nickels. The significance attributed to most U.S. gold coins, including what we now consider rarities such as the 1927-D and the 1933 $10, is a result of our temporal distance and historical context. In reality, many of these coins, including the ones deemed rare today, were considered nothing more than ordinary gold coins at the time. In essence, $20 in gold was merely seen as ” $20 in gold,” underscoring the rationale behind balanced account books.

Criticism is directed at Tripp’s mention of Switt’s “unfamiliarity with current coin market prices,” arguing that wholesale prices and the evolving coin market dynamics could have justified Switt’s sale of 1931 and 1932 Double Eagles below the listed prices in the guide. Switt’s speculative activities in 1933 Double Eagles, considering the risk-taking ability he had over his competitors during the Great Depression, are presented as legitimate.

The sale of a 1933 Double Eagle by Switt in February 1937, shortly after the melting process commenced, is not seen as indicative of a conspiracy involving McCann. Instead, the argument suggests that Switt may have obtained these coins from various sources over time, a notion supported by his statements during interviews.

This store holds a rich family history. Each day, Israel “Izzy” Switt’s daughter personally arranges and rearranges the window display. Nestled in the heart of Philadelphia’s primary jewelry district since the 1920s, the store maintains its presence. Handcrafted by Israel Switt, many of the fixtures and display cases in use today bear testament to the artisan’s skill.

Izzy and the Cashier’s Exchange.

“Intricacies of the Langbord Case: Izzy, the Mint Cashier, and the Legal Quandaries Surrounding Gold Coin Exchanges

Contemplating the Langbord case, if it were proven that Izzy engaged in swapping old gold for new gold with the Mint Cashier during a permissible timeframe, would this revelation significantly alter the case’s trajectory?

Envision a situation where all 1933 Saints were meant to be securely held, yet a mint employee, whether intentionally or unintentionally, exchanged some of the 1933 Saints with Izzy at the Cashier’s window, receiving an equivalent number of 1927 Saints in return.

The crucial question arises: Should the act, whether intentional or inadvertent, of the mint employee be legally binding on the government, potentially bolstering the Langbords’ assertion that the 1933 Saints lawfully left the mint and are now rightfully theirs?

Alternatively, does the government possess the right to disavow responsibility for its employee’s actions in this scenario? Does the significance of the employee’s role, be it the Head Cashier or a janitor trainee, influence this determination?

Delving into the legal ramifications, what if evidence surfaces supporting the idea that Izzy acquired the coins through a fair exchange at the cashier’s window? Would the government be compelled to honor the actions of its employee if both the cashier and Izzy acted in good faith? While theoretically plausible, the practicality of such a scenario is questioned.

Speculation extends to the existence of a secret journal titled “How I did it,” allegedly detailing Izzy’s acquisition, possession, and disposition of the 1933 Saints. If such a journal exists and is hidden away, with the possibility that Joan may know its location or discover it in the future, what legal consequences might unfold?

Considering the unintentional nature of the trade by the mint employee, it is suggested that the Langbords should prevail. However, if Izzy provided additional consideration to the mint employee, such as bribery, the government’s stance gains strength. Legally, the government should be bound by the actions of its employee unless fraud was involved. In the case of fraud, the government could pursue charges against both the mint employee and Izzy, seeking the return of the contraband. As stolen goods, the government retains the right to argue ownership by proving theft.

A New Coin for an Old Coin?

“Visitors to the Mint invariably find their way to the cashier’s office before leaving the building. The visit is not complete unless some newly-minted coins are carried away as ‘souvenirs,’ the bright cent generally catching the eye of the stranger…Occasionally a happy-looking young male asks for ‘a bright new double eagle.’”

James Rankin Young, The United States Mint at Philadelphia, 1903)

This, of course, was a tradition. Many collections got their start, or were richly augmented (such as the John H. Clapp collection) by such exchanges/purchases at the Mint. An old worn coin for a newly struck uncirculated one of the then current year. Indeed, this has been one of the oft-repeated theories behind the survival of the 1933 Double Eagles—but, of course now we know otherwise.

In the early part of 1933, up until Friday or Saturday, March 3rd or 4th, a visitor to the Mint at Philadelphia could indeed have exchanged an old gold coin for a new one. But, the only 1933 gold coins available would have been Eagles (the last ones were actually struck on March 3), and the Double Eagles had not yet been made.

The Mint kept meticulous records, and an April 7, 1944 Secret Service report regarding the stolen 1933 Double Eagles illustrates just how specific these records were. For the 1933 Eagles, the only 1933 gold coins to be legally issued, the breakdown is remarkable.

Further exploration delves into the notion of theft, questioning whether federal law and its elements align with the concept. Generally, theft requires the intent to deprive the owner (Government) of property. While acknowledging the current value discrepancy between a 1927 Double Eagle and a 1933 Double Eagle, the argument posits that a consensual trade, even if unauthorized, lacks the criminal intent required for theft.

Ultimately, the central issue may hinge on the burden of proof. Neither party may convincingly demonstrate the legitimate or illegitimate exit of the coins from the mint, placing the burdened side in a challenging legal battle.”

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