FINEST KNOWN PRESENTS… THE STORY OF THE BRASHER DOUBLOON
Hi my name is Neil Sharkey. I’m the Senior Numismatic Advisor for Finest Known in Newport Beach, California. Today, we’re going to talk about one of the greatest pieces of classic Americana in existence, especially as it pertains to numismatics.
When you think about classic United States gold coinage, one often thinks of pieces from the early Twentieth century, maybe the late Nineteenth Century. Hardly do we go back to the years prior to the year 1800. As a matter of fact, if you look at all of the large denomination gold pieces minted from the year of 1795 when we first began minting gold until 1804 when we stopped producing the ten dollar gold piece, if you had every single one known to exist, there are only 3500 coins. So again, it is an aspect of the rare gold market that one hardly speaks of because of their limited availability, but even better than that, even above that something that would, in my mind, trump the rest of the early American gold in existence is a coin that dates to the year 1787.
When I think of the year 1787, you kind of have to put yourself back into that time frame and think of the Colonial United States. We had just become the United States of America, the War of Independence ends July 4, 1776; Independence Day. By 1787, we adopted the Constitution and the founding of our government of the United States of America. We don’t really think about the monetary system of our country in that day.
The United States coinage, that was circulating, was heavily influenced by the British. Dating back to the early 1600’s when we first began producing coinage in the United States, colonials were primarily made of copper. They were also made of silver. The Silversmiths of the day were very important to the every day commerce and the coinage was primarily monetized in English denominations; the pence, the pound. These denominations were used widely throughout the colonies because of the English influence, but when we became the United States of America in 1776, we adopted our own beginnings of the United States money. One of the greatest examples of that money is the 1787 Brasher Doubloon. It is the very first gold coin minted in the United States of America. It is also the most expensive privately minted coin on earth. This gold piece transcends almost every other gold piece in American history, in my opinion.
I think of things like the 1933 Double Eagle and it’s incredible importance in numismatics and in United States history. I think of items like the 1861 Paquet Twenty Dollar gold piece and what that meant to the beginnings of the Civil War and the design of the United States Gold. I think of items like the 1795 Five and Ten Dollar gold pieces; the very first Federally minted gold coins of the United States. I think to this 1787 Brasher Doubloon and in my opinion we have here one of the most important gold coins in the history of the United States.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: The Story of Ephraim Brasher
Ephraim Brasher was a widely respected member of the community. He was a Silversmith and was responsible for testing and assaying of coins in New York City in the late 1700’s. His reputation was impeccable. His counterstamp was widely used and regarded by everyone as a guarantee of value. This man was without reproach as far as his reputation went through out the land and coins were often seen with his “EB” counterstamp. As a Silversmith, he would make very high-end silverware. As a matter of fact, in the White House to this day, there is a silverware collection in the White House cabinet bearing his “EB” counterstamp and it actually still has the original receipt of purchase when purchased by George Washington himself.
George Washington and Ephraim Brasher were actually neighbors. Ephraim Brasher had offices on Cherry Street in New York City as well as George Washington had residence in Cherry Street in New York City; they were practically neighbors. They frequented each other. In 1792, the story has been told throughout all of U.S. numismatics of the 1792 Half Disme and disme coinage that was authorized and struck under the authority of President George Washington and how it was the silver from his own cabinet that was used to strike these coins. I could imagine that probably being some silver that was made by Brasher.
This coin that we’re talking about, the 1787 Brasher Doubloon with the “EB” counterstamp on the wing in mint state 63 condition, it boggles my mind that something that is this old, and this important, as rare as it is with only seven examples known to exist of this incredible gold piece worldwide today, this coin survived in mint condition. It is the only survivor in a mint condition that has been in public hands. If you look at this and think about it for a moment, how something can survive well over 200 years time and remain in uncirculated choice mint condition, mint state 63 condition. It just makes me wish that there were a camera, like we have here today, attached to it for all those years and it could really tell the story of where it’s been, and who has handled it, and how its come to be that we have this numismatic treasure today.
This piece is regarded as the discovery coin. This coin was discovered in the 1830’s and has survived since with provenance from that day of every collector who has owned it. Today, it is owned by Finest Known and the display of this coin will be proudly travelled across the country by Finest Known in the years to come.
This piece set a world record, not once, not twice, but four times, as it has sold throughout history. It set the world record for a numismatic coin selling in the year 1907. It’s also set the world record in the year 1922. It set the world record again in 1979 and finally for the last time in 1981 at an incredible price of $625,000 dollars from the world record in 1907 at just over $6,000 you can see that this coin has been highly regarded throughout all of history and very sought after by the most elite collectors in U.S. Numismatics.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: The First Gold Coin Minted in America.
There has already been a confirmed sale of another example of the Brasher Doubloon at more than $7.4 million dollars. This has taken place within the last few years. So again, from 1981’s record of $625, 000 to today a lower grade specimen of this exact Brasher Doubloon sold for over $7 million dollars. So the value continues to be highly regarded by those elite collectors that can appreciate this coins history and value.
This is absolutely the world’s most expensive privately minted coin and by privately minted it just simply means it was not produced at a federal mint facility; in 1787 federal mint facilities did not exist. So you have to categorize the Brasher Doubloon as a private piece struck by a private minter even though the long line of Brasher’s history can be proven that he was again a Patriot, and a Statesman, and someone of very high regard in the Presidency, and that his guarantee of value was widely regarded by everyone.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: Silversmiths and Goldsmiths in early America.
In a coinage article in March of 1987 on the 200 year Anniversary of the minting of the Brasher Doubloon, it was said that, “In the late 1700’s, Silversmiths and Goldsmiths were particularly respected members of the community often acting as Bankers, Assayers, and Authenticators of the babble of gold and silver coins of the world which were circulating widely through the bouillon starved colonies of the New Republic.” It’s an incredible picture of the era of coins dating back to the 1780’s. You would not find gold coins circulating readily. The economy of the United States of America at this time was third world at best. We were not the superpower that we are today and gold coinage was incredibly difficult to come by. The majority of gold coinage circulating in the colonies in the 1780’s was Spanish, some of it South American, Central American, but primarily Spanish. Doubloons would circulate and the value of those Doubloons was widely regarded as the standard coinage of the United States colonies for gold, however, 95% of the population of our colonies in these years would never have even touched a gold coin. They would have been handling business on a much, much lower level using pence and half pence, and copper coinage, trading goods and services with each other, rather than trading gold coins. Gold coins were very, very difficult to come by.
So naturally, when a gold coin was made it would have been used. It would have gone directly into circulation and was needed to fuel whichever business transactions that were taking place at that high dollar value. For a gold coin, such as the 1787 Brasher Doubloon, to have survived over 230 years practically and still exist today in mint condition is something of a complete mystery and in my opinion a total miracle that this coin exists in the condition that it’s in today.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: The Classic Americana Design
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon has some of the design elements that were accepted and copied by future engravers and coin designers all throughout the United States gold coinage. If you look with me at the initial design of the obverse, it was adopted from the New York State Coat of Arms, so the patriotism that exudes from this design is incredible. The motto in Latin on the obverse of the coin surrounding the New York State Coat of Arms reads, “New York America Ever Higher” promoting the patriotism of the United States at the time. The reverse design obviously one of the things that your eye is drawn to most significantly is the EB counterstamp. It was Ephraim Brasher’s guarantee that he made the coin and that you could circulate this coin at its face value with all confidence. However, let’s notice the eagle with the wings spread clutching the shield. It reminds me of the future gold pieces made in the United States, maybe as a tribute to the first gold coin made in America. Future coin designers would look to this as an example for all of the United States coinage. By 1795, the United States was Federally minting gold coins and they bared this similar eagle with shield design. As we also look at the reverse of the coin, we notice the motto, “Unum E Pluribus,” later becoming “E Pluribus Unum,” however read, ” Unum E Pluribus” on the Brasher Doubloon, which means “One of Many” and later on the United States coinage read, “E Pluribus Unum” or “Of Many One” and has been standard on all of the United States coins from small cents all the way through to $50 gold pieces, since the day of 1787 when it was first used on a gold coin in the United States by Ephraim Brasher. This piece is technically all of the design elements of United States gold coinage that we would see on federally minted pieces. So the influence that Ephraim Brasher had, not only in his community, not only as a Silversmith, or a Banker, or an Assayer, a Patriotic, a Statesman, the influence he had on the United States coinage and money struck in our country was so far reaching that here we are today still producing coins that bare similarities to the piece he made for us in the year 1787.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: Certification and Authentication
One of the most important factors in the standardization of our market today is the certification and authenticity guarantee of the certification companies and widely regarded as one of the best certification companies in the country is the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation of Florida (NGC). NGC has certified the Brasher Doubloon and it is graded mint state 63, pedigree is the Ephraim Brasher counterstamp on the wing, and it also references the provenance of the coin. As you can see, the coin has its previous owners. They’re on the holder. NGC has given the provenance of the previous owners and these owners date back nearly 100 years of the provenance of the coin. I wish we could put them all on there. As this coin was the discovery piece from 1830, this gold piece was previously unknown in the numismatic communities and this specimen surfaced and became the discovery coin of Ephraim Brasher’s 1787 Doubloon.
So the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation is again widely regarded as one of the best certification companies in all of U.S. numismatics, and associated and affiliated with the American Numismatic Association, the Professional Numismatists Guild, a Sponsor of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian, and the certification is a guarantee from them as well as a guarantee to the owners that the item is authentic, the item is absolutely in the condition of mint state 63. So whether it is a multi-million dollar item like a 1787 Brasher Doubloon, or a whether it is a Saint Gauden Twenty Dollar gold piece common date from the early 1900’s, or a Morgan Silver Dollar that one could buy for under $100, that certification and guarantee is paramount as you buy and sell coins in today’s coin market.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon: The Story of Finest Known
Finest Known of Newport Beach, California from its humble beginnings in the mid-1990’s to today, has long been viewed as a seeker of quality. A company that will always strive for quality over quantity and our motto has been from the very beginning to strive for none finer, not only from a business standpoint, but also from a standpoint of our inventories. We have always encouraged our collectors and investors to acquire coinage that was none finer; pieces that will always ring to be the highest quality of the highest rarity of any particular series.
No matter what your collecting interests may be, we are a full-service firm offering buying, selling, and trading of your numismatic items at all times; service that is widely regarded as the best in the business.
For more information on Finest Known and the 1787 Brasher Doubloon, call a Finest Known Specialist today at 888-900-9948.