One of the first gold coins struck in the United States, a 1787 New York Brasher Doubloon, has been sold for more than $5 million in a private treaty transaction involving Heritage Auctions, Monaco Rare Coins and an anonymous West Coast collector. The more than $5 million deal sets one of the highest prices ever reported for an American coin.
Terms of the transaction remain confidential by a non-disclosure agreement between buyer and seller, said Todd Imhof, Executive Vice President at Heritage, who brokered the coin on behalf of Heritage and the anonymous collector.
"The Brasher doubloon is truly one of the greatest numismatic rarities in the world," Imhof added. "We are grateful to both Adam Crum at Monaco and to the prominent collector who purchased the coin for the opportunity to place this numismatic treasure in a new home. It is certainly one of the most exciting transactions I’ve ever been a part of."
The 1787 DBLN Brasher Doubloon, MS63 NGC. CAC., is the finest certified of seven such coins known to exist. Heritage Auctions sold the coin in January 2014 for $4.58 million, then a record auction price for the coin.
Doubloons were the first truly American gold coins, struck by silversmith Ephraim Brasher, George Washington’s New York City neighbor. The era’s most famous doubloons are those with Brasher’s original design, which adapts New York’s state coat of arms on one side and the Great Seal of the United States on the other. An eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows bears Brasher’s distinctive hallmark, the letters EB inside an oval, on the eagle’s right wing.
The front of the coin features a sun rising over a mountain peak and the sea, with Brasher’s name spelled out below the waves and the words NOVA EBORACA COLUMBIA EXCELSIOR, which translates to "New York, America, Ever Higher." Excelsior remains the state motto to this day.
The coins entered pop culture in the 1940s after novelist Raymond Chandler based one of his popular Philip Marlowe mysteries on the fictional theft of a Brasher doubloon in 1942. Chandler’s novel, The High Window, inspired a major motion picture called The Brasher Doubloon by 20th Century Fox in 1946.
"We have had the honor of owning this amazing piece of history since 2014," Crum said. We "take pride in knowing our firm will be forever etched into its provenance," he added.
Heritage Auctions (HA.com) is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. In addition to its headquarters in Dallas, Heritage has offices in New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago and Palm Beach, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.