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SERIES: U.S. Colonial Issues
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1787 $15 Brasher, Breast Punch (Regular Strike)

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PCGS AU50
PCGS #:
488
Diameter:
Designer:
Weight:
Edge:
Mintage:
Metal Content:
Other
Auction Record:
$2,990,000 • NGC EF45 • 1-12-2005 • Heritage
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 1 R-10.0 1 / 4 TIE 1 / 12 TIE
60 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 4 1 / 12
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 4 1 / 12
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PCGS AU50 Bushnell-Garrett
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PCGS AU50 Bushnell-Garrett

David Hall: There are seven known Brasher Doubloons. Six have the intials "EB" punched on the eagle's wing and one has the "EB" punched on the eagle's breast. This unique coin pedigrees to the Bushnell and Garrett collections. When it sold at the March, 1981 Garrett auction it was called "VF" and it brought $625,000. It subsequently sold in a January, 2005 Heritage auction for $2,990,000 where it was called "EF45." It has since been graded by PCGS and we think the coin is nicer than that. It's close enough to mint state for our grade to be "AU50."

 


Don Kagin: I believe this unique specimen and the first distinctive American gold coin, to be the most historical and important of all numismatic coins. Other scholars such as Dave Bowers believe it to be “the single most important coin in American numismatics!” In 1787 goldsmith Ephraim Brasher, a neighbor of George Washington, struck this $15 doubloon size gold coin to circulate as full value coinage. Soon afterwards, Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton hired Brasher to conduct assays on behalf of the first United States Mint in Philadelphia.

Over the years this legendary coin became the subject of a Raymond Chandler novel, The High Window and a 1947 movie adaptation, The Brasher Doubloon.

In 1981 the unique Brasher finally became available for sale in auction after being off the market for a century. Dealer/collector Edoward Frossard had acquired it in the Bushnell auction sale in 1882 for the record price of $505. He eventually sold it privately to T. Harrison Garrett and it was subsequently donated by his son, John Work Garrett to Johns Hopkins University.

As a lover of numismatic history and artifacts, I was determined to someday own this icon of numismatic lore and mystery. Unfortunately I was only an under bidder when it sold in 1981, but a dozen years later I tracked it down. My firm spent nine months determining if the then current owner held clear title and then negotiating a fair purchase price from the owner through his dealer/advisor. Finally I became the proud owner of this incomparable numismatic artifact.

Since the owner lived on the East Coast I asked my friend and colleague, Andy Lustig, to pick it up for me and take it to PCGS for grading. Andy taped the coin onto his leg and flew immediately to PCGS headquarters to an awaiting David Hall. David soon called me and exclaimed “I knew there was a reason we hadn’t assigned #1 to a coin yet; this is it!” Since then, the PCGS numbering system has been changed but in the hearts and minds of many numismatists, this is the first and most important American Gold Coin.

This specimen was eventually placed in The Gold Rush Collection and at the January 2005 FUN Show, was sold by Heritage Numismatic Auctions.

Ron Guth: On December 12, 2011, an exclusive AP news story reported that Blanchard and Co. of New Orleans brokered the sale of the unique "EB on Breast" Brasher Doubloon for $7.4 million, making it one of the most valuable of all United States Coins.  The seller was anonymous; the buyer was an unnamed Wall Street Investment firm.