'Legendary' $7.5m Brasher Doubloon coin stars at National Money Show

Coin collectors and investors from across the country are expected to pop their corks over a Napa vintner's $7.5 million vintage gold coin when it is displayed in Sacramento, California for the first time. The valuable coin also provided the inspiration for his new brand of wine.

"The gold coin is the legendary, unique Brasher Doubloon that was made in 1787 by George Washington's New York City neighbour, Ephraim Brasher," said Steven Contursi who purchased Tony Soter's Little Creek Estate Vineyard in November 2007. Contursi is president of Rare Coin Wholesalers in Irvine, California.

"It's one of the most important coins in American numismatic history because it's the very first gold coin struck for the young United States," he added.

Since acquiring the historic gold coin at auction in 2005, he has exhibited it in a half dozen cities nationwide and at the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado.

It will be displayed for the first time in Sacramento at the association's National Money Show that will be open to the public in the Sacramento Convention Center, from March 17 - 19, 2011. It will also be exhibited at the World's Fair of Money in Chicago, August 16 - 20.

Valued at $15 when struck in 1787

The coin is insured for $7.5m and will be displayed courtesy of Contursi and Donald Kagin in a custom-made wood cabinet that is reminiscent of the 19th century storage cabinets at the United States Mint.

"Only seven Brasher Doubloons of this type survive today, but this one is unique among them. It's the only one with the designer's initials, 'EB,' punched across the breast of an eagle depicted on the coin. Other surviving examples have the initials on the eagle's wing," said Doug Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum.

The eagle is depicted clutching arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, and Contursi has named his new wine label, Arrow&Branch.

The fabled Brasher Doubloon was the subject of a 1942 Raymond Chandler novel about fictional detective Philip Marlowe, The High Window, and a subsequent 1947 movie, The Brasher Doubloon. At the time, it was considered the world's most valuable rare coin.

The creator of the coin, silversmith and well-known political figure of the day, Ephraim Brasher, was George Washington's neighbour on Cherry Street in lower Manhattan. At the time the gold coin was struck in 1787 it was valued at $15.


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