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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Mexican 8 Escudos of 1714

 From the 1715 PLATE FLEET


M108. Viceroyalty of Nueva Espana, mint of Mexico City, Mexico 1714 J eight escudos. The rarest and most curious of the 1714 varieties, produced when the dated reverse die was discarded and a 1714 date was crudely re-engraved over GRAT in the obverse legend, creating the overstrike 1714/GRAT. Lustrous and choice mint state. Certainly one of the finest examples. NGC "Date Over Grat MS 63 1715 Fleet" (One other 1714/GRAT is now graded MS 63 by NGC, none higher at either service). An important coin for the collector of high quality Mexico Fleet-era onzas.        



At the beginning of 1714 the Mexican gold cob coinage underwent its last major redesign. The shield was simplified, completely omitting among other things the pomegranate of Granada and the lower castle. The cross became a simple Jerusalem cross surrounded by a large Spanish-style quadrafoil tressure. The Spanish tallador who engraved the first dies of 1714 did a fine job, except that he placed the date Spanish-style above the cross on the reverse. When examples of the new coinage were shown to the  viceroy, a small problem was obvious: most of the coins showed no date at all! Unlike on the machine-struck Spanish gold issues, where uniform pressure had no difficulty in striking up a date in the cross side legends, hand-struck Mexican issues rarely managed the pressures needed too strike up cross side legends. Fernando de Alencastre, Duke de Linares, Viceroy of New Spain, was not pleased with this new "dateless" gold coinage and ordered the mint to remedy this illegality at once.

Here the story gets interesting. Rather than simply discard the expensive and still almost new dies, the mint decided to try to fix at least the obverse die. This should have worked, since all it required was carefully  erasing the GRAT, which  now occupied the place where the date should have been, and then punching a 1714 date in this place.  Unfortunately, the tallador either did not understand these directions or just got lazy, and instead of neatly erasing GRAT from the legend, he simply punched 1714 right over GRAT, perhaps counting on the overstriking itself to erase the letters. The result was a messy jumble of letters and digits. Making matters worse, the 4 of the date was punched in lightly  and almost immediately became illegible. New coins were struck with this reworked 1714/GRAT die and presented to the viceroy.  Alas, we have no record of what the viceroy said when he saw what the mint had done, but judging by the rarity of the 1714/GRAT variety,  he was not pleased. The die (and probably the tallador) were permanently retired.



The rarity of the Date over GRAT variety is attested by the fact that the State of Florida records none amongst its 1168 Mexican gold cobs. Most major collections have lacked a 1714/GRAT specimen. Real 8 did not at first recognize the variety it later called "very rare".  The Caballero collector spent years looking for this variety before he was able to acquire a better example of the 1714/GRAT.


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