'Chest Punch' Brasher Doubloon sold for $7.395m by Blanchard & Company

America is a nation of coin collectors, and individuals are quite prepared to pay small fortunes for the right numismatic piece.

However, one coin stands alone as a piece of American history: the Brasher doubloon.

Ephraim Brasher was a skilled goldsmith and silversmith, and a respected authority on both metals to the extent that he would be asked to assess imported gold coins and stamp them with his initials, EB, if he believed them to be the real deal. He was also a neighbour of first President George Washington.

Following the American Revolution, the US Mint was established in 1793 to create a standardised, independent currency. Brasher made proposals to strike copper coins for the government in the late 1780s, and also struck a few gold doubloons.

There are seven Brasher Doubloons known, and all are extremely valuable. One was used as part of the plot in a Raymond Chandler mystery. The famed Norweb collection held an example as one of its centrepieces before donating it to the Smithsonian. But one of them is more valuable than the rest.

All the doubloons are stamped with 'EB', but on six of the coins it appears on the wing of the eagle depicted. In the other case, it appears on the shield on the eagle's chest.

Ephraim Brasher chest punch doubloon
'America's first coin' - Ephraim Brasher's chest punch gold doubloon

It has been suggested that this was the last made, and the first to conform to the Mint's new specifications. For example, it is slightly heavier than the others, as would have been required.

In fact a court case was fought over what would be reasonable compensation for this information, as it makes the chest-punch Brasher Doubloon the first true American coin.

The coin sold at Heritage in 2005 for $2.99m - at the time the second most expensive US coin ever sold.

A few days ago, however, Blanchard and Company, Inc. sold the coin for a record $7.395 million. That's a compound annual growth rate of 16.3%, making an overall increase of 147.3%.

Blanchard and Company's Chairman and CEO Donald W. Doyle, Jr commented, "While precious metals have been a hot news topic for the last several years, ultra-rare collectible numismatics have quietly continued to have strong investor demand as desired tangible assets.

"This transaction will likely energize the market and has the potential to push it higher."

Blanchard & Company has previously placed a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel - one of five known to exist - which was a $3 million transaction, and two of the 1907 Ultra High Relief $20 "Double Eagles" designed by Augustus St. Gaudens.


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