At the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, the American economy began to grow, develop and thrive. Prior to the official establishment of the United States government in 1789, and the Philadelphia Mint in 1792, currency, and provisions were supplied by contractors and private mints that operated on the Atlantic seaboard, and various state governments.
In 1787 a prominent silver and goldsmith, Ephraim Brasher, a prominent New York City artisan created a limited amount of gold coins. An impressive example of early American designs, the coin features a radiant sun just behind the peak of a mountain with the sea located in front. Brasher’s name is engraved subsequently below the sea. The landscape is framed by a circle of beads. Along the periphery of the coin, separated by rosettes, are the legends “NOVA EBORAC,” which is the Latin name for New York, “COLUMBIA” and the state motto “EXCELSIOR.” Translated literally, the legend means New York, America, Ever Upward. “Excelsior” remains the New York State motto to this day.
The 1787 coin was uniquely designed, and was meant to circulate for $15. The reasons behind the creation of the coin are still unknown, however, most information and research has lead to the intention of circulation around the 1830’s. As the coins were struck only a decade after the American War of Indepedence, the theme of the design is very patriotic, and greatly adds to the allure of one of the rarest examples of the first United States Gold Coinage.
For many numismatic aficionados, the price of $4.6 million for the first gold coin of the United States far from arbitrary and worth every penny.