You might call it passing the buck, if it weren't for the fact that it's really worth about 650,000 bucks.

"It" is the famous Yale University Brasher Doubloon, a rare 18th-century coin, which was put on the market Sunday for $650,000 to raise money for a much-needed new library building.

Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti said the decision to sell the Brasher Doubloon was "painful," but the university's financial woes and need for a new library were more pressing. Difficulty in protecting the early American coin was also cited as a reason for the sale.

The coin, privately made by New York goldsmith Ephraim Brasher in 1787, was stolen in 1965 from Yale's Sterling Memorial Library by a gang of professional thieves. It was recovered two years later from the private collection of a reputed Florida crime figure by an insurance adjuster who was investigating another heist.

The Yale Brasher is one of the few remaining American gold coins from the pre-Federal period, before the U.S. Mint was established in Philadelphia. There are six other surviving specimens struck by Brasher.

The late Rev. William H. Owen, associate curator of the Yale University Numismatic Collection, gave the coin to the school in 1944.