|A Project of the Robert H. Gore, Jr. Numismatic Endowment
University of Notre Dame, Department of Special Collections
|by Louis Jordan
Images Coordinated by
|James C. Spilman and the Colonial Newsletter Foundation|
Back to the FAQ Page
For a history of this coin see our page Brasher's Doubloon 1786-1787: Introduction.
I have five to six inquiries each month on this coin. So far no inquirers have uncovered an original gold example, rather, they have discovered they own either a modern souvenir or an electotype copy. Usually copies are made of copper or brass. Copper examples are clearly different from the originals but many people mistake the shiny brass for gold. Modern souvenir copies, sold for $1.00 at historical sites such as Williamsburg, VA, have no numismatic value. Electrotypes do have some value, probably in the $100 to $200 range for a fine example. In the 1860's the curator of the coin collection at the Philadelphia mint made exact electrotype copies of the mint's example of the Brasher doubloon. These were bought by collectors who could not afford an original specimen for their collections. Electrotypes are brass over lead while originals are gold all the way through. Before the 1960's dealers often made a small test cut on the edge of a coin to determine if it was an electrotype. Electrotypes and some modern copies will look exactly like the originals in all details of the die stamping except they are made of a metal other than gold and therefore have a different weight; other modern copies will be smaller in diameter and more crudely made. The Robinson copies (in brass or copper) are well made but distinctive (see our example for specifics), for instance the original quatrefoils were transformed into cinquefoils.
In all, six original examples of Brasher's Doubloon are known. An original example would be valued at between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000 depending on condition and variety. Five of the originals weigh between 406.8 grains and 408.3 grains with one somewhat heavier at 411 grains. If you can find a grain scale you could weigh your example. This would provide further information on the authenticity of the coin, if you feel you may own a hitherto unknown original, two firms provide authentication services:
The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) will attribute, authenticate, and grade colonial coins. Their services and prices are listed on the web at http://pcgs.com/
The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation will also authenticate and grade colonial coins. Their services and prices are listed on the web at http://ngccoin.com/
You may be interested to know in 1947 a movie was made called The Brasher Doubloon.