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Something new under Brasher's gold sun

What can a company approaching sales of $1 billion a year like Heritage Auctions do that it has not done before?

Sell a classic American rarity for over $5 million, the largest sum for a single item in its history.

The coin that changed hands is the finest certified Brasher doubloon.

Heritage brokered the sale. Involved were Monaco Rare Coins and an anonymous West Coast collector.

Terms of the transaction remain confidential by a non-disclosure agreement between buyer and seller, said Todd Imhof, executive vice president at Heritage, who brokered the coin on behalf of Heritage and the anonymous collector.

Created before the federal government came into existence, the 1787 gold piece is graded MS-63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.

It has a Certified Acceptance Corporation sticker.

It is the finest of seven such certified coins known to exist.

Heritage Auctions said it previously sold the coin for $4.58 million in January 2014.

That was a record for it at the time. Here is the auction lot listing.

Though most collectors cannot afford such a piece, they do appreciate the rich American history surrounding its creation.

Doubloons were the first truly American gold coins, struck by silversmith Ephraim Brasher, who at one time was George Washington’s New York City neighbor.

Heritage points out that the era’s most famous doubloons are those with Brasher’s original design,

It adapts New York’s state coat of arms on one side and the Great Seal of the United States on the other.

On the reverse, the eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows bears Brasher’s distinctive hallmark, the letters EB inside an oval, on the eagle’s right wing.

The obverse of the coin features a sun rising over a mountain peak and the sea, with Brasher’s name spelled out below the waves and the words NOVA EBORACA COLUMBIA EXCELSIOR, which translates to “New York, America, Ever Higher.”

Excelsior remains New York State's motto to this day.

“The Brasher doubloon is truly one of the greatest numismatic rarities in the world,” Imhof said.

“We are grateful to both Adam Crum at Monaco and to the prominent collector who purchased the coin for the opportunity to place this numismatic treasure in a new home. It is certainly one of the most exciting transactions I’ve ever been a part of,” Imhof said.

“We have had the honor of owning this amazing piece of history since 2014” Crum said, “and take pride in knowing our firm will be forever etched into its provenance.”

Congratulations to all the parties.

What great news to start my Friday morning.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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