World Coins

'Regulated' gold coin from Boston merchant in sale

A unique “regulated” gold coin, originally a 1741 Lima Mint gold 8-escudo piece in the cob style, highlights Daniel Frank Sedwick LLC’s May 15 and 16 auction.

Images courtesy of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.

When American collectors think of hallmarked early American gold coins, names like Ephraim Brasher and Standish Barry come to mind.

Add to that short list the name Joseph Edwards Jr., according to auction house Daniel Frank Sedwick LLC, whose May 15 and 16 auction offers a unique example of a gold 8-escudo coin countermarked by Boston merchant Edwards, circa 1780.

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Both Brasher’s and Barry’s “doubloons” had a face value of $15. So too does the example plugged and countermarked by Edwards, on a 1741-V Lima gold 8-escudo coin, the only such host coin found in the regulated gold series.

British colonies in North America relied on international coinage, but the melange of issues meant that coins with an array of fineness, weight and authenticity circulated together, so regulation by metalsmiths was the solution.

“The weight standard to which these metalsmiths adhered was established in a practice known as ‘regulation,’ following a decades-old tradition that became a formalized standard just as the United States was becoming an independent nation,” according to Sedwick.

Metalsmiths verified the gold and ensured that the pieces met the standard, stamping their marks onto coin’s deemed acceptable. 

Sedwick presents an in-depth exploration of the weight standards and history behind regulated gold in the catalog for this sale. 

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The coin offered is the earliest known genuine host for a regulated doubloon, and the only nonimitation cob regulated at the $15 standard. 

Regulated gold coins were an important part of the early American economy, as the U.S. Mint did not strike circulating gold coins until 1795. Many gold coins of the era were melted and recoined, and only in recent years has the story of regulated gold garnered attention, Sedwick said.

The example in the Sedwick sale can be traced to the 1911 auction of the Julius L. Brown Collection, cataloged by S.H. Chapman. 

The coin is graded Extremely Fine 40 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., and has an estimate of $100,000 and up. 

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