Gold Cobs from the Florida shipwrecks of the 1715 Fleet & other New World wrecks. Spanish Colonial gold and silver coins from Lima, Mexico, Cuzco, Bogotá, Cartagena, and other mints.

 

 

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L 77. Viceroyalty of El Peru, Lima 1732/26 N/M one escudo. Unique, the only survivor of a reported mintage of 1108 one escudos struck in 1732. From the famous Cabellero Collection in 2009 (lot 559, realized 5800 euros) and Treasure Auction 17 (lot 35, realized $7500). Attributed to the 1733 Fleet. NGC AU 58.

 

In many ways a unique and puzzling coin whose story is yet to be told. The cross side is struck from a new, pristine die. It exhibits luster and high relief with absolutely no evidence of circulation. The castle side is struck from a worn and reworked die that has been called back into service at least six years after it was first used. In 1726 the assayer was Melgarejo, in 1732 it is Negron, so the first thing we see is that the assayer initial N is overstruck on a wider, more splayed, round-footed M. The date is obviously recut. The final digit 2 sits atop a 6.  Note the tip of 6 extending upward from near the top of the 2. The middle digit 3 sits atop a 2. Some of the diagonal crosstroke and the horizontal bottom stroke of the 2 are clearly visible in the lower loop of the 3. Other obvious die features include a big die crack/gouge that extends from the base of the castle through the crossbar of the 7 and on to the edge. Many rust spots, some large, can be seen in the fields between the L and the castle. Another die crack arcs over the castle. This rusted, damaged castle die had clearly not been saved with the expectation that it might be re-used! Something happened late in 1732, and the Lima minters had to use whatever they could find to complete the 1732 mintage.  We have seen this kind of "raiding the vaults" before  at Lima. For example, a 1723 Lima media onza re-used a very worn cross die of 1716, and the 1722 one escudo mintage reverted to 1718 dies. 1732 was the last year of the single cross above the castle design (1720-32). Three cross arc above the castle starting in 1733. When the last 1732 castle die failed, cutting an  old-style replacement die to strike poasibly a few hundred coins was not an option.  

 

 

A large spot of gray-blue coral sits in the angle of the L and smaller deposits are scattered over the coin. This is precisely the kind of coral we see on coins recovered from Florida Keys wrecks of the 1733. It is clear that this escudo was on a ship that sank soon after it was struck in 1732 (before it had a chance to circulate). Heritage and Treasure Auctions LLC have examined the coin and think it is 1733 Fleet. No photos or documents we have yet found conclusively attest a 1733 Fleet provenance, but we believe this attribution is correct. 

 

NGC has found this a difficult coin to attribute and grade. One sympathizes! Their compromise "net" grade is AU 58, trying to balance a mint state reverse against a castle side, struck from a worn and damaged die, something very hard for non-expert to evaluate. In the post-1715 Fleet era, Lima typically coined very few 1, 2 and 4 escudos. Mintages of 500-1000 are common. Dies for these coins were re-used for many years despite their poor condition. This speaks to the very limited role of minor gold in the post-Fleet monetary system of El Peru. Here is a unique one escudo representing the ephemeral mintage of 1732, one that also probably witnessed the destruction of the 1733 Fleet in the Florida Straits.

Available. Price on request       

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