What a week for numismatic controversy! Another numismatic news bite doing the rounds in the mainstream media at the moment is a lawsuit in the US concerning an alleged contract between two coin dealers and a numismatic researcher over information provided regarding the background to the production of one of America's most famous rare coins - the Brasher Doubloon.
Apparently one of the seven examples of this rare and historic coin has characteristics that differentiate it from the other six known, and it is the plaintiff's contention in this lawsuit that he entered into an agreement with the two owners of the coin (themselves well-known rare coin dealers) to provide them with information that would increase the historic importance of the coin in the eyes of potential buyers, and by extension increasing it's commercial value.
From what I can gather, a verbal agreement was entered into, the researcher was given a rare coin worth $35,000 as a down payment on the information, and the information was then handed over. The contention is that the balance of the payment was not made, hence the lawsuit!
The current controversy around the coin pales into comparison against the salacious storyline of the 1951 US film of the same name:
On the surface of things I'd have to say that a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on, it'll be interesting to see how this pans out - only in the rare coin industry could three guys do a handshake deal for quarter of a mill, with the consideration for the delivery of an intangilble item to be made at some indeterminate point in the future.
I have an unabashed affection for the early history of the US, and find their coins from the period to be truly spellbinding - I can see myself collecting a few at some stage in the future!