US Coins

Brasher doubloon former owner Walter Perschke dies

Chicago numismatist Walter Perschke died May 20 at age 77 in Chicago. He owned what is the finest certified example of 1787 Brasher, Punch on Wing gold doubloon for more than 35 years before selling it two years ago.

For more than three decades, Perschke also owned the unique 1783 Nova Constellatio, Type II quint pattern until consigning it to auction in 2013, nine months before the Brasher doubloon was sold.

Mr. Perschke was an internationally renowned numismatic expert and businessman, known for acquiring storied coins such as the Brasher doubloon and the Nova Constellatio pattern.

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Mr. Perschke was recognized in the financial world outside of numismatics. He was a finance columnist for the Chicago Daily News, had his own Emmy-nominated TV show, Ask an Expert, and appeared regularly on PBS’s Wall Street Week.

Later in life, he was the owner and publisher of Conscious Community Magazine.

He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. 

Numismatic connection

Mr. Perschke made a significant mark in numismatics in 1979 when he purchased the Brasher doubloon for $430,000 in a Rare Coin Company of America auction.

The coin was described as “Almost Uncirculated” when offered in that sale. Numismatic Guaranty Corp. certified the piece in mid-2012 as Mint State 63.

Mr. Perschke consigned the coin to Heritage Auction’s Jan. 9, 2014, Platinum Night session of its Florida United Numismatists Convention sale in Orlando.

When interviewed by Coin World shortly before bidding began, Mr. 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.”

The final hammer price was $3.9 million, with the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee added bringing to total to $4,582,500. 

The hammer price was far less than what Mr. Perschke had anticipated. 

Bidding opened in the standing-room only auction room 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 Chicago numismatist was visibly disappointed with the auction results, walking out of the auction room soon after the bidding closed on the lot.

Mr. Perschke offered a simple “No comment” when asked by Coin World for an interview. 

The winning bidder was Adam Crum from Monaco Rare Coins.

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 1742 gold 8-escudo coins struck at the Lima Mint in Peru. 

The Perschke coin is one of the seven New York Style pieces, and among the six of them that bear metalsmith Ephraim Brasher’s EB hallmark punched on the wing. One piece bears the hallmark punched on the eagle’s breast. 

Perschke also owned for more than three decades the unique 1783 Nova Constellatio, Type II quint pattern he acquired for $55,000 in 1979 from Bowers and Ruddy Galleries’ sale of the Garrett Collection.

The pattern was described in the 1979 sale as “Choice AU-55, with prooflike surface.”

Also known as the 500-unit piece, the pattern was one of four silver 1783 Nova Constellatio patterns offered in the 1979 sale.

The Nova Constellatio patterns were conceived in 1781 by Gouverneur Morris, assistant superintendent of commerce for the Confederation of American States, as the first proposed monetary system for the newly independent country.

Offered graded Professional Coin Grading Service Secure About Uncirculated 53, the Type II quint pattern crossed the auction block in April 2013, sold by Heritage Auctions, realizing $1,175,000 including the buyer’s fee. The pattern was sold to Kagin’s.


Mr. Perschke is survived by son, Kurt (Kate Weare) Perschke of Brooklyn, N.Y.; son Ian (Jennifer Worstell) Perschke of Chicago; daughter Lara Perschke of Southampton, N.Y,.; son Adam Perschke of Dallas; and granddaughter Lily Perschke.

Walter Perschke is also survived by brother John (Carol) Perschke of McHenry, Ill., and brother William (Ellen) Perschke of Phoenix.

A public memorial service will be held on June 26 at 6 p.m. Central Time at Unity Church in Chicago, 1925 W. Thome Ave., Chicago.

A private burial will be held separately.

Memorial donations may be made in Walter’s name to Chicago Symphony Orchestra, of which he was an avid patron and supporter for many years.

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