In January it was announced that items from the Eric P. Newman
Numismatic Education Society will be offered for sale at some future
time. The mind races at the thought of what the collection contains.
For enthusiasts of Colonial-era coins, this could be the most
important offering ever.
Details of what the Newman Collection contains are not
particularly well known to most in the numismatic community, but the
star of the collection, perhaps Mr. Newman’s favorite coin, has been
well published and much discussed — the gold 1792 Washington President
pattern. The thought of what it could sell for, undoubtedly in the
millions, brought to mind a question: What other gold Colonials are
there (not necessarily in the Newman Collection)?
The most famous, of course, are the Brasher doubloons. Two types
are known: the very rare Lima-style Brasher doubloon and the New
York-style, copying the seal of the state of New York and showing a
Federal-style eagle on the other side.
Two Brasher Lima doubloons are known, both closely copying the
designs of 8-escudo coins struck in the Spanish Colonial mint at Lima, Peru.
Seven of the New York style Brasher doubloons were struck in 1787
and marked by Ephraim Brasher with his distinctive EB touchmark.
Recent prices for the Brasher doubloons approach $3 million at auction
and significantly more in private sales.
The only Brasher half doubloon (also of New York-style) is in the
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. The NNC
also includes the unique 1785 Immunis Columbia piece struck over an
English guinea. Back in 1843, the U.S. Mint swapped an 1804 Draped
Bust dollar for it, with the Smithsonian later obtaining the Immunis
One particularly exciting analog of the Brasher doubloons is the
unique Standish Barry doubloon. Made by Baltimore’s most famous
silversmith minter, I got to be the first person to identify the piece
during the process of analyzing and cataloging the Eliasberg
Collection of world gold coins, where it had hidden for decades as
nothing more than an 8-escudo coin from Peru. It’s already earned a
spot in Q. David Bowers’ Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early
There also exists a gold Saint Patrick farthing, a piece sold in
Part VII of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection auction, bringing a
winning bid of $184,000. As cool as that piece is, it’s tough to
equate a high grade off-metal striking of a piece intended for Ireland
with other coins listed above, which were made in America for
circulation in America.
John Kraljevich Jr. is an independent professional numismatist and
researcher specializing in early American coinage.