The Brasher Doubloon, minted in 1787 and for a few years after that, is a very rare American gold coin created around the time the US Mint was coming into its own.
Ephraim Brasher, who at one time was neighbour to George Washington was a skilled gold- and silver-smith, and a respected authority on the metals. Imported gold coins were brought to him where he lived in New York, and stamped with an 'EB' in an oval if he believed they were what they were supposed to be.
In the 1780s, America was yet to create a standard independent currency. Brasher made proposals to strike copper coins for the government in the late 1780s, and also struck a few gold doubloons. The US Mint was established in 1793.
Seven Brasher Doubloons are known to survive. The obverse of the gold doubloon displayed the state seal, depicting the sun rising over a mountain with the sea in the foreground surrounded with the legends: "NOVA EBORACA," "COLUMBIA" and the state motto "EXCELSIOR" (Higher). Brasher also signed the coins by added his name below the scene. The obverse displayed the US eagle with shield and the unusually worded national motto "UNUM E PLURIBUS" (One from many) as well as the date 1787.
As with gold coins brought to him, Brasher counterstamped his initials on the reverse of the coin.
Famous owners and sales
The Norweb family’s famous collection included a Brasher doubloon before they donated it to the American Numismatic Society in 1969. A unique half doubloon also survives in the Josiah K. Lilly collection at the Smithsonian.
January 12, 2005 Heritage Auction Galleries sold three Brasher Doubloons as part of their Florida United Numismatists (FUN) US Coin Auction in 2005. This included a price of $2,990,000 for the unique New York Style EB Punch on Breast Brasher Doubloon (which displays the ‘EB’ stamp on the eagle’s chest rather than its wing).
In December 2011 the numismatic firm Blanchard & Company brokered a deal for the Brasher Doubloon with the 'EB on Breast'. It was sold to a Wall Street Investment firm for a price of $7.395 million in the most expensive private coin sale of all time.
A missing Brasher Doubloon plays a key role in Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe mystery The High Window. The book was made into a film starring George Montgomery and Nancy Guild which is known simply as The Brasher Doubloon in some variations.
Brasher Doubloons are also mentioned in Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza.
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