US Coins

Finest-known 1787 Brasher doubloon from Partrick Collection to return to market

The finest-known 1787 New York gold doubloon made by New York goldsmith Ephraim Brasher, carrying his signature EB stamp on the wing, graded MS-65 with an NGC Star, is a centerpiece of the Partrick Collection which Heritage will offer in a series of 2021 auctions.

Images courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

A famed Brasher doubloon is returning to market for the first time since 1979 as Heritage continues its offering of the collection of Donald G. Partrick.

In a press release, the auctioneer calls the collection built over five decades, “arguably the most significant gathering of early U.S. colonial coins ever assembled.” The collection will be offered in two 2021 Platinum Night sessions in conjunction with the January Florida United Numismatists and April Central States Numismatic Society conventions.

The sales will include two Brasher doubloons, including the finest-known 1787 New York-style Brasher doubloon, now graded Mint State 65 Star by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., who added in a press release, “This extraordinary rarity is not only the highest-graded Brasher Doubloon by a full two points, but it has also earned NGC’s trademarked Star Designation for exceptional eye appeal.”

Partrick acquired the famed Brasher doubloon in November 1979, when it was offered at Bowers & Ruddy’s initial auction of the Garrett Collection, for $725,000. In that sale it set a record as the most expensive coin ever sold at auction, and the subject coin held that record for more than a decade. At that sale, in an era before third-party grading, the auctioneer graded it Mint State 63, writing, “No other Brasher doubloon can compete with the state of preservation. No other coin can compete with its incredible fame and reputation.”

Its best-known owner was Baltimore railroad baron John Work Garrett, who acquired it in 1923 in a purchase arranged by dealer Wayte Raymond as part of the collection of Col. James W. Ellsworth. At the time, the Ellsworth Collection was described as the finest ever sold, and was handled by New York art dealers M. Knoedler & Co.

John Work Garrett paid $50,000, which was half of the purchase price of the collection, to have the privilege of the first choice of the Ellsworth holdings. The remaining pieces were sold by Raymond, according to the 1979 auction description.

The Garrett Collection was sold in a series of auctions between 1979 to 1981, benefiting Johns Hopkins University, and Evergreen, the former residence of Garrett and his wife, Alice Warder Garrett, is available to tour in Baltimore.

The coins of New York goldsmith and jeweler Ephraim Brasher have their own page in the “Red Book,” where they are called “Among the most famous pieces coined before establishment of the U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.” His gold pieces don’t carry a face value, but were valued at $15 in New York when issued, making them approximately equal to the Spanish doubloon

Five are known with an EB punch-mark on the wing of the eagle on the reverse and one with a punch-mark on the eagle’s breast that is unique.

The obverse depicts a heraldic eagle that recalls the Great Seal of the United States and the reverse shows a sun rising over a mountain; a theme seen on New York’s coat of arms, with the word EXCELSIOR — New York’s state motto meaning “ever upwards” — at the bottom. The name BRASHER is seen in smaller letters above.

Heritage offered a group of 350 rarities from the Partrick Collection in 2015, which totaled nearly $26 million, and that initial Partrick offering saw 50 coins bring more than $100,000 each, including five coins that each sold for over $1 million.

The magnificent library at Evergreen, the former residence of John Work Garrett and his wife Alice Warder Garrett. The house was bequeathed to Johns Hopkins University in 1942 and the Garrett Collection of rare coins was sold at a landmark series of auctions by Bowers & Ruddy from 1979 to 1981.

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