Over the course of a five-day numismatics auction in January, Heritage Auctions sold $64.92 million worth of rare collectible coins, including a 1787 Brasher Doubloon, one of the first gold coins struck in the United States. “The legendary Brasher Doubloon is one of the most important coins in American history,” Todd Imhof, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, said following the sale. “It’s the first gold coin struck for the young United States and it’s one of only a handful that exist.” The last time that the coin was sold publicly (in 1979), it changed hands for a then-record price of $430,000. This time, the doubloon was sold for $4.58 million.
The coin was created by Ephraim Brasher, a New York silversmith, who lived next door to George Washington. In fact, Washington owned numerous examples of his neighbor’s sought-after silver creations, which speaks to the quality of Brasher’s work. Brasher also worked as an assayer, evaluating the many foreign gold coins that circulated throughout the country during the late 18th century. At the time, gold coins were used primarily in large transactions between bankers or merchants in the country’s major cities. Today, some old, foreign gold and silver coins are marked with Brasher’s trademark counterstamp, which experts believe is confirmation that those coins were of full weight and fineness when Brasher analyzed them.
As for Brasher’s doubloon, the coin weighs 26.6 grams and is composed of 89 percent gold, 6 percent silver, 3 percent copper, and 2 percent of various elements. The obverse design was adopted from the New York state coat of arms, while the reverse includes several elements that also make up the Great Seal of the United States.