We Win the Gold War! Part 1

From Coin World 1967

While looking through some old files I found a 1967 editorial from Coin World about how Stack’s led the charge to ease the restrictions that the Treasury Department then had on the importation of gold. Finding it reminded me of this important role my company played as well as my own personal experiences in this court case, gathering information, testifying and working with the lawyers to bring this case to a successful conclusion.  I am very proud of the part that I and Stack’s played in lessening the restrictions that at the time made bringing gold coins into the United States cumbersome and, sometimes, impossible.

“We Win Gold War!”

“ ‘We may have lost a battle, but we haven’t lost the war — yet’ was the sentiment expressed by the New York coin firm of Stack’s late in 1966 when it met a temporary setback in its attempt to liberalize the attitudes of the Treasury Department’s Office of Gold and Silver Operations as they applied to the importation of gold coins.

“This philosophical disposition of mind on the part of Stack’s, despite considerable expense — war is not cheap — was supported, we are certain, because they intended to keep the fire lighted beneath the ODGSO pot they had started boiling.

Peter D. Sternlight, deputy undersecretary for monetary affairs at the Treasury, set the project on the back burner where it has been simmering for many months.

“The recipe for this stew, tagged by the Treasury itself as an ‘inconsistency,’ started in May of 1965 when Stack’s applied for a license to import a gold coin and medal collection from Amsterdam. In October of that year, the ODGSO, headed by Dr. Leland Howard, approved a portion of the collection for licensing for importation, but refused entry to 244 coins from various countries.

“Stack’s appealed informally to the secretary of the Treasury to reconsider the decision. The general-counsel of the Treasury affirmed Dr. Howard’s ruling. Later a hearing was granted, conducted by an independent hearing examiner, appointed by the Civil Service Commission.

“On June 10, 1966, the independent examiner, Walter R. Johnson, issued a finding almost totally in favor of the New York coin firm (and the hobby). Four months later, Peter D. Sternlight, deputy undersecretary for monetary affairs of the Treasury, issued a statement reversing the findings of the hearing examiner, and upholding the dignity of the ODGSO. And that was that!

“Stack’s kept its counsel, literally and figuratively, at the improbable turn of events. The hobby had, in effect, considered the New York coin firm as its spokesman in registering objection to the unfair ODGSO stand on gold coin importations. Collectors protested loudly at the strange procedures within Treasury that reversed an impartial finding in favor of Stack’s. It was at this point that the observation about losing a battle, but not a war, was made.”

The remainder of the Coin World article will be featured next week in this column.




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