The finest-certified 1787 Brasher, Punch on Wing doubloon sold at
auction Jan. 9 in Orlando, Fla., for $4,582,500, considerably less
than the coin’s seller anticipated.
Many in the standing-room-only crowd for Heritage Auctions’
Florida United Numismatists auction, especially consignor Walter
Perschke, expected the coin to sell for more than double that price.
Perschke said just before the auction began that he had analyzed
historical price appreciation for the past 35 years to arrive at an
estimate of a value of between $8 million and $10 million.
The Chicago numismatist was visibly disappointed with the auction
results, walking out of the auction room soon after the lot, the first
of Heritage’s Platinum Night auction, hammered down at $3.9 million.
Perschke offered a simple “No comment” when asked by Coin World for an interview.
Because of travel delays, Perschke arrived at the Orange County
Convention Center just minutes before auctioneer Bob Merrill opened bidding.
Bidding opened at $3.6 million, and after several $100,000 bid
increments between Internet bids and phone bids accepted by Heritage
on the floor, the winning $3.9 million bid was placed by a phone
bidder. The final price included a 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.
When interviewed shortly before bidding began, Perschke said he
decided to part with the doubloon after nearly 35 years of ownership
because “it seems like high end numismatic coins are selling for
significant money. There’s never going to be a perfect time.”
One longtime collector called the price garnered for the doubloon
as “the biggest steal in numismatics.”
The coin had been off the market for more than three decades.
Perschke purchased the doubloon for $430,000 in a Rare Coin Company of
America auction in 1979. The coin was described as “Almost
Uncirculated” when offered in that sale.
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. certified the piece in mid-2012 as Mint
Researchers know of seven 1787 Brasher doubloons of what is called
the New York Style and two examples of the 1786 Brasher doubloon of
the Lima Style, the latter modeled after a 1742 gold 8-escudo coins
struck at the Lima Mint in Peru.
The Perschke coin is one of the seven New York Style pieces, six
of which, including Perschke’s coin, bear metalsmith Ephraim Brasher’s
EB hallmark punched on the wing. One piece bears the hallmark punched
on the eagle’s breast.
The previous most recent transaction involving a Brasher doubloon
was the $7,395,000 paid Nov. 29, 2011, by an anonymous buyer for the
unique 1787 Brasher, Punch on Breast doubloon in a transaction
brokered by Blanchard & Co. from Baton Rouge, La. That coin is
certified About Uncirculated 50 by Professional Coin Grading Service.
Brasher was a well-known silversmith and goldsmith of the Colonial
era, whose customers included President George Washington, Brasher’s
next-door neighbor in New York City.
Brasher also regulated precious metals coins for the Bank of New
York. As a regulator, Brasher checked a coin’s fineness and weight,
then countermarked it with his EB hallmark if the coin met the
standards of the day. Bank tellers could then accept the regulated
coins without having to check their weight.
Researchers currently believe that the Brasher doubloons had a
contemporary face value of $15, based on research by numismatist
William Swoger published in the June 1, 1992, issue of Coin
World reinterpreting the gold coin’s intended value.
In 1787, “dollar” was understood to mean the “Spanish milled
dollar,” or the silver 8-real coin minted for Spain and its colonies.
By the time Brasher struck his gold pieces, New York had officially
established a new $15 standard.
The 1787 New York Style doubloon’s obverse depicts an eagle
beginning to open its wings, with the EB punch either on the eagle’s
breast, in the case of the unique example, or on the eagle’s right
wing (viewer’s left) on the other six examples.
The reverse depicts the arms of New York, with the sun rising over
a mountainscape. Brasher’s surname appears below as BRASHER.
The two Lima Style doubloon coins, although dated 1742, were
produced in 1786, researchers believe, in Brasher’s efforts toward
making a circulating coin for local use. ■