Rare coin dealer Steven L. Contursi of Laguna Beach sold the Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin minted in the United States. A Wall Street investment firm purchased the coin for a record price of nearly $7.4 million, the coin dealer said in a statement.
The historic coin was struck in 1787 by George Washington’s New York City neighbor, Ephraim Brasher. Contursi purchased it for $3 million in January 2005 and over the last seven years has exhibited the gold piece across the country.
“It’s a national treasure, and I wanted tens of thousands of people to see it in person. It had been kept in a vault in Baltimore for most of the 20th century when Johns Hopkins University owned it,” said Contursi, president of Irvine’s Rare Coin Wholesalers.
Only seven Brasher Doubloons of this type survive today, and this specimen is the only one with the designer’s initials, “EB,” punched across the breast of an eagle depicted on the coin.
The coin was the subject of a 1942 Raymond Chandler novel, “The High Window,” and a subsequent 1947 movie, “The Brasher Doubloon,” based on Chandler’s story about fictional detective Philip Marlowe.
The coin’s imagery, an eagle depicted clutching arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, figures in another Contursi enterprise. In 2010, he and his wife, Seanne, named their Napa Valley vineyard and wine brand Arrow & Branch.
The themes are replicated on many U.S. coins, imagery denoting a nation that pursues peace but possesses the strength to defend itself, explained Contursi.