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Coinage of New York – Brasher Doubloon – 1742 – 1787

America’s First Private Gold Coins- The Brasher Doubloon

America’s first private gold coins were some gold doubloons struck by Ephraim Brasher in 1787. Brasher was a goldsmith from New York and a next-door neighbor and friend of George Washington. No one is certain whether these coins were patterns for gold coinage or patterns for proposed copper coinage.

In 1787, Brasher and John Baily petitioned the New York legislature for the right to strike copper coinage for the state. But the legislature investigated the issue and tabled it indefinitely. Brasher’s doubloons are purposely similar in size to the Spanish 8 Escudos coins.

Brasher went ahead and designed and struck the coin. His design on the obverse displayed the sun rising over the mountains with a river in the foreground. His name “BRASHER” is below. Around the periphery is a ring of dots and encircling them in Latin is inscribed, “NOVA EBORACA COLUMBIA EXCELSIOR” which translates to “New York and America: Ever upward.”  

On the reverse is a heraldic-type eagle with wings spread, a shield covers its chest and there is an olive branch in the right talon, and arrows in the left talon. The eagle is facing left and 13 five-pointed stars encircle the eagle’s head. The eagle and stars are encircled within a wreath and around the periphery is the famous “E PLURIBUS UNUM” motto.

Brasher stamped all of the 7 known specimens with a punch that has his initials “EB” inside of an oval. One specimen has the punch impressed on the shield on the center of the eagle, while the remaining specimens all have the punch impressed in the eagle’s right-wing. This punch is identical to the hallmark impressed on much of Brasher’s silverware and numerous contemporary foreign gold coins that he acquired.

(The Unique 1787 Brasher Gold Doubloon, with the EB center punch. Reverse [left], Obverse [right].)
(The 1787 Brasher Gold Doubloon, right-wing punch, Reverse [left], Obverse [right].)

Brasher not only proudly created these beautiful coins, but he served as a Lieutenant in the New York State Militia during the Revolutionary War. He held various other positions within the fledgling United States government.

In 1792, he was hired by the United States Mint, which wouldn’t strike its very first coins until the following year, to assay many of the various foreign gold coins that the Mint had in its possession. After assaying a coin, Brasher would impress his “EB” in an oval onto these coins to display that they meet his stringent standards for weight and purity. 

It was not until 1915 that the American Numismatic Society released the bombshell information that Brasher not only created these American Gold Doubloon coins, but he also created an 8 Escudos gold coin that was very similar to those minted by the Lima, Peru mint. The coins were dated 1742, but they were believed to have been struck around 1786. There are but two known specimens and these coins were very close in style and appearance to the existing Peruvian Gold 8 Escudos. 

(Brasher’s 1742 Lima, Peru, 8 Gold Escudos, 2 Known, Obverse [left], Reverse [right].)

DateTypeMintageVG ValueXT Value
1787Gold Doubloon – Center PunchI$2,750,000$5,000,000
1787Gold Doubloon – Wing Punch6$2,000,000$4,000,000
1742 (1786)Lima, Peru 8 Escudos2$350,000$700,000

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