In 1787, Ephraim Brasher, a goldsmith and silversmith, submitted a petition to the State of New York to mint copper coins. The petition was denied when New York decided not to get into the business of minting copper coinage. Brasher was already quite highly regarded for his skills, and his hallmark (which he not only stamped on his own coins but also on other coinage sent to him for assay proofing) was highly significant in the early United States. Brasher struck various coppers, in addition to a small quantity of gold coins, over the next few years.
This coin, valued at eight Spanish escudos or sixteen Spanish dollars ($16), is of confusing English colonial nomenclature, called at first the "double doubloon" before settling as the "Spanish doubloon". This was disambiguated in references by calling the $4 the common doubloon or simply doubloon, and the $16 coin the doubloon of eight (escudos). Spanish America did the same as explained in es:doblón.
On January 12, 2005 Heritage Auction Galleries sold all three varieties of Brasher Doubloons as part of their Florida United Numismatists U.S. Coin Auction, Platinum Night Session. The coins realized $2,415,000 for the New York Style EB Punch on Wing NGC AU55, $2,990,000 for the unique New York Style EB Punch on Breast NGC XF45 and $690,000 for the rare but less iconic Lima Style Doubloon. The unique Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin made for the United States, was sold in December 2011 by rare-coin dealer, Steven L. Contursi of Laguna Beach, California, to Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) of Far Hills, New Jersey. An undisclosed Wall Street investment firm subsequently purchased it from Blanchard and Company of New Orleans, Louisiana for nearly $7.4 million, it was the most money ever paid for a coin minted in the United States. This record was broken by a Brasher Doubloon sold in January 2021 by Heritage Auctions for $9.36 million, a world record for a gold coin sold in a public auction.
The coin was the subject of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe 1942 mystery novel The High Window, which was made into a film, Time to Kill, in 1942, and The Brasher Doubloon, in 1947. It is also mentioned in Lawrence Block's 1980 Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza and John Bellairs's 1992 The Mansion in the Mist.
- Ephraim Brasher
- "1787 Brasher Doubloon". Archived from the original on 2006-10-28. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- Kelly, Patrick (1821). "The Universal Cambist, and Commercial Instructor: Being a Full and Accurate Treatise on the Exchanges, Monies, Weights and Measures of All Trading Nations and Their Colonies; with an Account of Their Banks, Public Funds, and Paper Currencies".
- Mark Borckardt. "Brasher Doubloon EB on Wing, Auction Description and Photos".
- Mark Borckardt. "Brasher Doubloon EB Punch on Breast, Auction Description and Photos".
- Mark Borckardt. "Brasher Doubloon Lima Style, Auction Description and Photos".
- Gilkes, Paul (December 19, 2011). "Brasher doubloon brings nearly $7.4 million". Coin World.
- Kampmann, Ursula (January 28, 2021). "$9.36 Million: Why the Brasher Doubloon is the most expensive coin of the world". CoinsWeekly.
- Raymond Chandler (11 June 2002). The High Window. ISBN 0-394-75826-9.
- "Time to Kill". IMDb.
- Lawrence Block (2006). The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza. ISBN 0-06-087276-4.
- John Bellairs (2004). The Mansion in the Mist. ISBN 978-0-14-240262-7.