Finlay Enterprises, Inc.
Founded : 1787
Activities : Wholesale gold collection, gold jewelry collection, high jewelry gold collection, gold timepieces
Parent Company : Finlay Enterprises
Stockists : International
Origin : 77 Queen Street, New York, NY 10314
Finlay Fine Jewelers, Grand Metropolitan’s Fine Jewelry Group, maintain significant commodity reserves in precious metals and precious and semi-precious stones. The firms gold inventories are managed by wholly-owned subsidiary Ephraim Brasher for it’s network of jewelers around the world. The firm is named in honor of one of the finest goldsmiths the United States has ever known and has been capitalized with access to over $130 million in gold and silver. Subsidiary Roskells organizes and coordinates silver inventories to the groups approximate 2,600 retail and wholesale jewelers.
Brasher is listed in “The Book of Old Silver” by Seymour Wyler, as producing silverware out of New York, from 1766 onward. He was a prominent New York City gold and silversmith. In 1787 Brasher appears to have joined with the New York silversmith and noted swordmaker, John Bailey in requesting a franchise to produce copper coins for the State of New York. The legislative record for February 12, 1787 stated, “the several petitions” of Brasher and Bailey were filed with the state. Brasher struck various coppers, in addition to a small quantity of gold coins, over the next few years. One of the surviving gold coins, weighing 26.6 grams and composed of .917 (22-carat) gold, was sold at public auction for $625,000 in March 1981.
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 young United States, was sold December 2011 by nationally known 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 has purchased it from Blanchard and Company of New Orleans, Louisiana for a record price of nearly $7.4 million, the most money ever paid for the historic rare coin.
Ephraim Brasher (pronounced Bray-zher) lived just a few feet from President Washington in New York. Washington resided at 3 Cherry Street and Brasher lived next door at 1 Cherry Street. Some sources give the address of Brasher as 5 Cherry Street. Cherry Hill was a fashionable section of New York in the 18th century, located just north of the Manhattan side of the present day Brooklyn Bridge. His business address was 77 Queen Street, not too far north of his home.
Brasher was born in 1744 and lived to 1810, the entire 66 years a resident of New York City. He was married to Anne Gilbert on November 8, 1766. Ann was a sister of another New York silversmith, William Gilbert. Some sources state that Brasher did not have any children with Anne, or with his second wife, Mary Austin, whom he married in 1797, sometime after Anne’s death. Other sources suggest that he did. Indeed, an article by Richard Bagg and Q. David Bowers in the February 1980 issue of The Numismatist, “Ephraim Brasher, Originator of the Famous Brasher Doubloon,” mentions Ephraim’s great-great-great granddaughter, Deborah. This alone would suggest that he did have children. Ephraim and Abraham Brasher both served their apprenticeship with a silversmith, whose name (or names) are not known today. Ephraim took his studies seriously, and today there is beautiful silverware that survives with his counterstamp. Little is known about Abraham or his work, but Ephraim did excellent work and many pieces of his craft are seen in New York and New England museums.
Brasher was also a respected member of the community. In his March 1987 Coinage article, “The Brasher Bicentennial,” David T. Alexander noted: “In the late 1700’s, silversmiths and goldsmiths were particularly respected members of the community, often acting as bankers, assayers, and authenticators of the Babel of gold and silver coins of the world which circulated in the bullion-starved colonies and the new republic.”
Not only were Washington and Brasher neighbors, but Washington was also a customer of Brasher. He owned numerous silver pieces made by Brasher, including a number of silver skewers with a surviving receipt. It was certainly important for Washington to make a good impression at state dinners, which he did with the assistance of his Brasher silver.
Ephraim Brasher was a member of the New York Provincial Army in 1775 and 1776, serving the role of grenadier. He retired from the militia in 1796 with the rank of Major. Later, he served local politics in New York, almost like serving national posts at the time. New York was the leader of banking and foreign trade, and was also the new national capital. Brasher served on the New York Evacuation Committee in 1783, marking the departure of British troops from New York City. He also served as sanitary commissioner from 1784 to 1785, coroner from 1786 to 1791, assistant justice from 1794 to 1797, election inspector from 1796 to 1809, and commissioner of excise from 1806 to 1810.
In addition to all of his service, and his private business affairs, Brasher served the United States Mint in the early 1790s. This is known from a Treasury Warrant in the amount of $27, paid to John Shield as “assignee of Ephraim Brasher.” This warrant was specifically identified as a payment for assaying work that Brasher performed in 1792 for the Mint, following instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury.