NGC-certified Brasher Doubloon Sells for Over $5 Million

Posted on 3/23/2018

The private sale of one of the first gold coins struck in the US sets a record for an NGC-certified coin.

A rare 1787 Brasher Doubloon graded MS 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has been sold for more than $5 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a coin.

The Brasher Doubloon is the first gold coin struck in the United States, and is considered to be one of the most important coins in American numismatics. Only seven examples are known.

1787 Brasher Doubloon with 'EB' on Wing, graded NGC MS 63.
Realized (2018, private sale): more than $5 million
Click images to enlarge.

Heritage Auctions, which brokered the sale between Monaco Rare Coins and a West Coast collector, said terms of the transaction were confidential, but added that it was the highest price realized in the company's history. Heritage Auctions sold this very same Brasher Doubloon in January 2014 for $4,582,500, the highest price ever paid for an NGC-certified coin at the time. That record was broken with the recent sale for over $5 million. Before the January 2014 sale, this Brasher Doubloon was last sold in 1979 for $430,000, then a record price for a coin.

The Brasher Doubloons were struck in 1787 in New York City, which was then the capital of the US. They have fascinated generations of collectors, although the story behind their creation is shrouded in mystery. The first example turned up in a deposit of foreign gold pieces made to the Philadelphia Mint in 1838.

The Brasher Doubloons are significant not only because they were the first US gold coins, but also because of Brasher’s close ties to George Washington. Ephraim Brasher lived at No. 1 Cherry Street in lower Manhattan when Washington relocated to No. 3 Cherry Street, which served as the executive mansion in 1789, the first year of Washington's presidency. Brasher, a prominent gold and silversmith, furnished silverware for Washington, who owned two tea trays with the prestigious EB hallmark.

The same EB punch appears on the Brasher Doubloons — on the wing of the eagle, in the case of this Brasher Doubloon. (Another variety features the EB punch on the eagle's breast). Mimicking the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle holds an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other. Around the eagle is the motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM, meaning "Out of Many, One," symbolic of the states uniting to form new nation.

On the coin’s other side, a sun rises above a mountain in front of a sea, likely to signify a new beginning. Around the design is a Latin legend: NOVA EBORACA * COLUMBIA * EXCELSIOR. Columbia is a nickname for the United States, Nova Eboraca translates to New York, and Excelsior — Ever Higher — is the state’s motto.

The term "doubloon" does not appear on the coins, but it was assigned this value decades later by a Mint official based on their size and weight, which was similar to the Spanish doubloon.

“As our country's first gold coin, the importance of the Brasher Doubloon in US numismatics is unsurpassed, and even over 230 years later this coin continues to make history," said Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman. "It was perhaps the greatest highlight of my career to have been able to grade this extraordinary coin."

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