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  • Brasher's Doubloons Coins

    Brasher's Doubloons 1786-1787: Introduction


    Brasher's Doubloons are frequently reproduced.

    If you believe you have an original example of this coin click here for information on value and authentification.


    Ephraim Brasher was a prominent New York City gold and silversmith who was often asked to weigh and verify the authenticity of foreign gold coins for customers. Several examples of foreign gold have been discovered counterstamped with the initials EB in an oval (examples can be found in the the Roper auction catalog). Apparently his stamp on a coin was taken as proof the item was of the proper weight and fineness. Breen discovered that Brasher's address in 1789-1790 was listed as number five Cherry Street in New York City, which was next door to George Washington's residence. It has been reported that in Washington's now lost household accounts there was an entry under April 17, 1790 stating Washington purchased four silver skewers from Brasher for £8 8s6d in New York currency. Brasher had a substantial reputation as an assayer. In November of 1792 with the assistance of David Ott he assayed several varieties if gold coins for the new federal government. Thereafter Brasher assisted assaying gold for the U.S. Mint.

    In 1787 Brasher appears to have joined with the New York silversmith and noted swordmaker, John Bailey in requesting a franchise to produce copper coins for the State of New York. The legislative record for February 12, 1787 stated, "the several petitions" of Brasher and Bailey were filed with the state. Because of the ambiguous wording it is not know if the petitions were join ventures or simply individual petitions that just happened to have been submitted on the same day. Their petitions, along with the petition of their competitors, were denied a few months later when state decided to refrain from the minting of coppers (see the Machin's Patterns section for additional details). Soon after the unfavorable judgment Ephraim Brasher turned his attention from coppers back to designing and minting a few pattern gold doubloons. Apparently he had been working on a Lima style gold piece the preceding year. Brasher probably worked with John Bailey on this project as the doubloons share letter punches used by Bailey on some New Jersey coppers he made as a subcontractor for Matthais Ogden's Elizabethtown mint. 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. After making the coins Brasher counterstamped his initials on the reverse, six examples survive with the stamp on the wing and one survives with the stamp on the shield. The example long held by Yale University was offered at auction but went unsold (with an $800,000 reserve) during a January 1998 Stack's auction. However, according to Coin World (as cited below) the coin was jointly purchased by two coins dealers, Donald Kagin and Jay Parrino, in February of 1998.

    A unique half doubloon also survives in the Josiah K. Lilly collection at the Smithsonian. Also, two doubloons survive that were made in the style of the early Lima pillar and waves eight escudos gold piece. These coins are close but not exact copies of a eight escudos gold doubloon from Lima in the year 1742; the inscription around the edge of these two copies are only partly visible, but Michael Hodder has been able to read the date as 1786. Using precise measurements of the EB counterstamp, he has determined the coins were impressed with the same punch that stamped the eagle but in an earlier state of wear without rust spots that developed later. Thus the Lima doubloons, sometimes thought to have been a later fabrication, are now considered to be the original work of Brasher and predate the 1787 coins.

    In 1861 by Alfred Robinson of Hartford, Connecticut struck 50 copies of the Brasher doubloon (25 in copper and 25 in brass) using dies made by Joseph Merriam of Boston. An example of this reproduction follows.

    References

    See: Michael Hodder, "Brasher's Lima Style Doubloon" in The Money of Pre-Federal America,  ed. by John Kleeberg, Proceedings of the Coinage of the Americas Conference 7, NY: American Numismatic Society, 1992, pp. 127-157; Walter Breen, "Brasher and Bailey: Pioneer New York Coiners, 1787-1792," Centennial Publication of the American Numismatic Society,  edited by Harald Ingholt, New York: American Numismatic Society, 1958, pp. 137-145; Richard D. Kenney, Struck Copies of Early American Coins,  reprint of the 1952 edition by Sanford Durst: New York, 1982, p. 5, figure 3 ; Russell Rulau, Early American Tokens,   3rd. ed., Iola, WI: Krause, 1991, Rulau-E, NY 68, see p. 39 (also pp. 31-32 of his Standard Catalog of United States Tokens ) and Stack's auction catalog, The John L. Roper, 2nd Collection of Colonial & Early American Coins,  Dec. 8-9, 1983, lots 514-516. For the Yale example see the January 1998 Stack's auction catalog and Paul Gilkes, "Yale Brasher Doubloon Sells; Dealers Pay Undisclosed Sum for Rarity" Coin World vol. 39 (March 2, 1998, issue number 1977) pp. 1 and 102.


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