The first U.S. gold coin – the 1787 “Brasher Doubloon” – is being privately offered to the collector market for the first time in half a decade.
With an asking price of $15 million US (more than $20 million Cdn.), the sale is being marketed by Jeff Sherid, owner of Los Angeles’ PCAG Inc., who identified the owner as a former Wall Street executive.
The coin was struck by metalsmith Ephraim Brasher – the next-door neighbour of soon-to-be President George Washington – in New York. It was 11 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the same year the U.S. Constitution was written and five years before the first federal mint opened in Philadelphia.
“Many private gold coin enthusiasts argue that the gold doubloons issued by Ephraim Brasher in 1787 were our country’s first private gold coins,” writes long-time U.S. numismatist Donald Kagin in his 1981 book, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States. “Other authorities believe that they were only gold patterns for a proposed copper coinage. While there is little evidence to support either theory, it is certainly clear that these issues were struck prior to the birth of the United States of America. These coins, considered among the most valuable coins in the world, however, form an intriguing part of our country’s numismatic history.”
This one-of-a-kind example includes Brasher’s “EB” initials on the eagle’s breast, but seven other surviving examples feature the initials on the eagle’s right wing.
“This is the identical hallmark which appears on much of Brasher’s silverware and various foreign gold coins that passed through his hands (1766-90),” wrote Kagin, who’s the president of Kagin’s, Inc., the oldest U.S. family-owned numismatic firm, and Holabird-Americana, the country’s largest Western Americana dealer and auctioneer.
Long-time numismatist John Albanese, the founder of Certified Acceptance Corp., told Bloomberg it’s likely Washington, who became the first U.S. president in 1789, would have handled the iconic coin.
“If you talk to coin nerds and old-time experts, I’m guessing they’d all say the Brasher Doubloon is the greatest coin ever because of the history,” Albanese told Bloomberg.
Originally worth about $15 US, it later sold for $625,000 US in 1981; $2.99 million US in 2005; and $7.4 million US in 2011. The coin last sold in 2015, when its current owner paid an undisclosed amount as part of another private transaction.