Monday, December 12, 2011

1787 gold coin sold $7.4M

A rare 1787 gold coin sold $7.4M in an auction, one of the highest prices ever paid for a gold coin. The rare 1787 gold Brasher doubloon purchased by a Wall Street investment firm. A New Orleans-based coin and precious metals company, Blanchard and Co., brokered the deal but identities of the buyer and seller were not disclosed.  Minted by Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith and neighbor of George Washington, the coin contains 26.66 grams of gold, slightly less than an ounce. The Brasher doubloon is considered the first American-made gold coin denominated in dollars; the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia didn't begin striking coins until the 1790s.

1787 Gold coin

Brasher Doubloon
AP Photo/Chris Baudot, Blanchard and Company, Inc.

The 1787 Brasher Doubloon is an impressive example of early American design. The debate continues as to which side of the coin is the obverse, but most numismatists now agree that the landscape side of the coin is the obverse. The coin features the radiant sun just behind the peak of a mountain with the sea in front. Brasher’s name is boldly engraved below the sea. The landscape is framed by a circle of beads. Along the periphery of the coin, separated by rosettes, are the legends “NOVA EBORAC,” which is the Latin name for New York, “COLUMBIA” and the state motto “EXCELSIOR.” Translated literally, the legend means New York, America, Ever Upward. “Excelsior” remains the New York State motto to this day.

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The reverse depicts a proud, heraldic eagle with its wings displayed. The eagle is facing right and its head is surrounded by thirteen five-pointed stars, symbolizing the thirteen original states. Across the eagle’s breast is a shield. In the right talon, representing peace, are olive branches, and in the left talon are the arrows of war.  The entire eagle is encircled by a wreath. At the bottom edge of the coin is the date with rosettes placed on either side. At the top edge is the inscription “UNUM E PLURIBUS” (One From Many) which is separated by two six-pointed stars.

The coin is called a Doubloon because it is approximately equal in weight to the Spanish Doubloon which circulated actively in colonial America. A value of $16 was initially attributed to the coin, but later research shows that this value was erroneously placed and the “Doubloon” was actually worth $15 at the time of issue. This value was first suggested in a comprehensive article about Brasher Doubloons written by numismatist William Swoger and published in the June 1, 1992 issue of Coin World magazine. Additional information about weights and measures of the era was published in the 1993 book, "Money of the American Colonies and Confederation," by Phil Mossman.

Source: Associated Press.