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First Gold Coin Ever Minted in U.S. on Sale for $15 MILLION

Ian Harvey
The gold coins up for sale.

The first gold coin ever minted in the United States is set for a huge private sale. There are many people who love to collect things that are old, rare, or valuable. For a select few, combining the three is ideal. That’s why the first gold coin ever made in the US is being offered for private sale with an asking price of $15 million, according to a recent report by Bloomberg News.

The coin is the Brasher Doubloon, and it was struck in 1787. It was created the same year the Constitution was written, and five years before there was such an entity as a federal mint. The coin was made by a metalsmith named Ephraim Brasher, George Washington’s next-door neighbor in New York. Brasher privately minted a small number of coins, and he marked his initials on the breast of the eagle of the first of them.

Given the timing and proximity, it’s very likely Washington himself handled the coin at some point. The coin’s actual purpose is a bit of a mystery. No one knows if it was made as a prototype or souvenir, or if it was made to be circulated. Brasher made seven of the doubloons, but his initials are on the eagles’ wings on the other six coins.

Collectors Universe ran a piece on the history of the series, offering a little more its history than simply who made it and when. Among other things, it noted that opinions vary about which side of the coin constitutes the ‘face’ and which is the ‘back.’ One side features an eagle with an American shield on its chest, the talons of one foot holding the arrows or war and the other holding the olive branch of peace. Thirteen stars are arranged over the eagle’s head, no doubt to refer to the thirteen colonies, and the phrase ‘E pluribus unum’ runs around the periphery, separated by stars. The date it was struck, 1787, is below that.

First American gold coins

The first American gold coin, the 1787 Brasher Doubloon.Source: Blanchard and Company Inc.

The other shows a scene of the sun rising over a mountain. Despite the fact that Brasher stamped his initials on the eagles, most scholars seem to agree that the ‘face’ is actually the side showing the landscape. ‘Brasher’ is inscribed below the landscape, and the legends ‘Nova Eborac,’ ‘Excelsior,’ and ‘Columbia’ can be seen around the periphery of the coin, separated by quatrefoils.

People who really into old coins might tell you that the first coin in the series, the one currently for sale, is the greatest coin in the world because of when it was made and its history. It was even featured in Raymond Chandler’s novel “The High Window” in 1942, and the movie that was based of the book.

Rare coins are a booming business; the US market alone is worth about $4 billion annually. Sales are usually done privately, and the prices of the coins is seldom known. The most expensive coin sale at an auction was in 2013. The coin was a 1794 ‘Flowing Hair’ silver dollar, believed to be the first silver dollar minted in the US.

Even the mint began operating two years earlier, the coins it produced during those two years were either copper or some pattern coins. It was in near-mint condition, despite its age, and sold for $10 million, setting the world record for the most expensive coin ever purchased at the time.

Related Article: Rare British Gold Coin Celebrating Victory Over Spain Sells for $1 Million

Some experts in the field believe that Brasher Doubloon, a coin that was originally worth $15, could eventually be the first coin to ever be worth $100 million. While that’s a huge step from its current asking price, it may not be an unrealistic supposition. In 1985 the coin was sold for $625,000. In 2005, it sold for $5 million, and six years later it sold for $7.4 million. It changed hands again in a private sale in 2015, so the price it commanded then is unknown, but the current price tag demonstrates that the price is continuing to trend up.