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

 

 

 

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Eight Reales from the Spanish & VOC Treasure Fleets

 

(Please note: all coins on this page are now SOLD)

 

 

S1. From the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de La Concepcion (lost 1641),

a rare N-R-P 16(28) eight reales struck at Santa Fe de Bogota

 

 

 

 Nuestra Senora de La Pura Y Limia Concepcion came to grief on the Abrojos Reef northeast of what is now called the Dominican Republic on July 23, 1641. The Almiranta of the 1641 Flota carried an exceptionally large treasure cargo of approximately 100 tons in precious metals. More than 300 passengers and crew perished with the ship, and the Spanish never salvaged the treasure.  Boston sea captain William Phipps became a national hero in 1687 when he salvaged over 30 tons of silver bars and coins for King James II. The Concepcion's site was rediscovered 291 years after Phipps by Burt Webber of Seaquest International. Webber worked the site successful for several seasons after 1978. Webber found thousands of Mexican eight and four reales, some Potosi eight reales, and also a few rare early Colombian eight reales, including the present coin.


The Bogota eight reales that Webber found have been invaluable in establishing or confirming the early history of this mint which opened in 1627. Miguel Pinto Camargo was the first full-time assayer at Bogota, working from 1627 to 1632 and marking his coinage with the letter P, which appears on this coin to the left of shield and below the letters NR. NR which for stand "Nuevo Reino" or the New Kingdom. Colombia was called at the time "the New Kingdom of Granada." The bottom stem of the P is off the flan. To the right of the shield is a bold denomination in Roman numerals, VIII. On the reverse in the legend we can read REX 16... We know the missing digits are 28, because of several very distinctive features of the 1628 issue. In the angles of a very  heavy cross are lions and castles that are too small for an 8 reales. Punches for a 4 reales were used on this and another 1628 reverse die, apparently because the normal punches for the 8 reales were not available. Only 1628 8 reales shows this combination of heavy cross and small lions & castles. See the Lasser/Restropo specimen M44-6a. The total surviving population of 1628 Bogota 8 reales may be less than a half dozen coins.

 

The preservation of this Concepcion 8 reales is exceptional (weight: 26.07 gm). The vast majority of Concepcion coins show significant corrosion, to the point that the design on one side or other is obscured. The few early Bogotas recovered show especially heavy corrosion, with weights usually below 23 grams.  I have seen (and owned) only one other Concepcion Bogota in comparable condition, a coin that sold as lot 200 in Christensen May 1982 Sale. In sum, the present coin is a rare early Bogota 8 reales with a great shipwreck pedigree. With Webber/ Seaquest certificate.

 

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 


 

S2.  From the Capitana of the 1733 Fleet, EL RUBI,

this full-date 1731 F Mexico 8 reales.

With a very informative 2 page photo-certificate from Bill Wood.

 

 

Unfortunately, most of the silver cobs offered in the marketplace as 1733 Fleet are not! Because choice dated 1733 Fleet eight reales are both rare and expensive, sellers routinely offer Vliegenthart and Rooswijk coins of the same dates, with various confabulated certs, as 1733 Fleet. I strongly recommend that you do not trust the "might be" pedigree of any alleged 1733 Fleet silver cob unless it has indisputable documentation from the original salvors. Dealers certs are not enough in this case. When you wish to sell your "1733 Fleet" coin and no one will pay what an indisputable 1733 Fleet cob is worth, you will discover this.

 

Bill Wood was one of the last salvors to legitimately work the so-called "Coffins Patch" EL RUBI site in 1986 before the State of Florida turned the wrecksite into a State Park. This 1731 Mexican eight reales was one of the best coins he found. Bill has done a great job in preparing a two page photo-certificate for this coin, detailing both the coinage and the history of the 1733 Fleet. A few other dated 1733 Fleet reales have come into my hands from Bill and John McSherry over the last 20 years, and I can second the opinion that this is an exceptional piece. If you would like to see a scan of Bill's certificate, or if you'd like more information on the coinage of the 1733 Fleet, just contact me.

 

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 


 

S3. From the 1715 Fleet,

Reign of Charles II (1665-1700)

a very choice Lima 1699 R eight reales

from the Cabin Wreck, wrecksite of the 1715 Fleet Almiranta San Roman.

 Full weight at 26.7 gms, large 35 mm planchet

 

 

The Florida State Collection has individually catalogued 22,963 silver cobs from its vast collection. Exactly 257 of these, or just over 1%, are Lima cobs. By comparison, 21,170 coins, or 91.5%, are Mexican cobs. What this tells us is the Lima Fleet cobs are many times scarcer than  Mexican Fleet cobs, 82 times scarcer according to the Florida State sample. Statistics aside, advanced Fleet collectors have long recognized the rarity of choice Fleet Limas. If we are lucky, one or two Fleet Limas come into marketplace in a year.

 

It is curious that Cabin Wreck, the site where the Ubilla's Mexican Almiranta SAN ROMAN  wrecked, has been the source of almost all Lima silver cobs. (None of the Terra Firma ships have yielded any significant amount of Lima silver or gold.) The distinctive dark gray, slightly tarry deposits that we see on this 8 reales verify its Cabin Wreck provenience. I personally have seen Cabin Wreck Limas with 1692-1700 dates, and some earlier dates are known. The first coin found by Lou Ullian on Cabin Wreck in the summer of 1960 was a 1692 Lima.

 

 

Dated 1714-1715 Mexican eight reales now bring thousands of dollars, and there are hundreds if not thousands of them! I doubt if more than a few hundred Limas of this quality survive including all dates. 

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 

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S4. From the  galleon NUESTRA SENORA DE LAS MARAVILLAS (lost 1656)

an exceptional full date 1655 Mexican eight reales

 

 

Though quite a few salvors have briefly worked the site since 1972, there have been only been two authorized salvage efforts on the wreck of the Maravillas. Bob Marx discovered and worked the site with his Seafarers group in 1972-73, and then in 1989-1992 Humphreys and the Marex group conducted a very systematic salvage of the site. This exceptional well preserved (25.6 gms) Mexican eight comes from the Marx-era salvage. It sat proudly in a Florida collection for over 35 years, in the company of some equally remarkable 1715 Fleet silver, until recently re-appearing in the marketplace.

 

Not many well preserved and full date 1655 were recovered from the Maravillas. There is nothing of comparable quality in the coins Marx consigned to the December 1974 Schulman sale. Look at lots 210-247. A near twin to this 1655 does occur at lot 78 of the Christie's Marex sale of May 1992, but it is the only comparable coin in that sale. Notice that several coins in both sales show scrapes and scratches. Quite a few of the coins salvaged in 1970's in particular show scrapes and scratches. I asked about this once and was told it was the unavoidable result of having to dig them out of the Bahamian sand with trowels and shovels and other improvised excavation tools. The Seafarers salvage of the 1970's was not the well-financed, high-tech outing that Marex mounted 17 years later.

 

 

terravtan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 

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S5. A second 1655 Mexican eight reales from the MARAVILLAS,

this one pedigreed to Capt Humpreys' MAREX salvage of the wreck

with his 1991 Marex photo-certificate.

Bold date, some (removable) encrustation on the final digit.  wt . 22.75 gm

ex "Treasure Auction #4" (11/08), lot 314, where it sold for $460.

 

 

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 

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S6. From the wreck of the VOC East Indiaman Vliegenthart,

lost February 3, 1735 off the Zeeland coast of Holland,

this attractive full-date Mexican 1731/0 eight reales comes with the original Rex Cowan color cert (# 901769).

 

 Assayer F (Felipe Rivas Angulo) had the distinction of being the last assayer of silver cobs at Mexico City. This eight reales has everything you want in a Vliegenthart Mexican cob. Bold assayer and mint mark and full date---in this case, a scarce 1731/0 overdate. Nice cross with well struck lions and castles. Large 37 mm planchet, good weight at 25 gms, and t5he original Cowan color certificate.

 

 

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 

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S7. From the  galleon NUESTRA SENORA DE LAS MARAVILLAS (lost 1656)

A rare date 1650 P Mexican eight reales.

Excellent weight, 26.4 gm, on a large 40 mm planchet.

Only the third 1650 Mexican cob known from the Maravillas.

 

 

Although the vast majority of Mexican silver cobs recovered from the Maravillas bear the dates 1654 and 1654, the Maravillas has yielded a small quantity of dated Mexican cobs going back to 1650. 1650 is the easiest and rarest of the dates, with only two other 1650's known.  This coin--and for some reason almost all the better-quality Maravillas silver-- is from the Bob Marx early 1970's salvages. A good representative sample of Marx's finds appeared in Schulman's December 1974 auction. Notice lot 210, the only 1650 in the sale, a rare date (as Calbeto notes) that realized a princely $175 while choice 1655's went for only $100 or so!

 

This 8 reales is certainly among the top 5% of Mexican cobs recovered from the Maravillas. Compare it with the silver cobs featured in the later 1992 Christie's Marex sale. Without question it has better surfaces, a better strike, and better weight than any of Marex's highlight coins. The Mo mint mark and assayer initial P are bold and perfect, as is most of the distinctive mid-century Mexican style of the Hapsburg shield. The legend date shows 650, the 0 being punched higher and smaller-- I think the lazy die cutters just used the letter o from the mint mark. The 6 shows better to the naked eye than in this photo, though the lower loop  is quite clear. The 1 is even there, though faint.

 

 

Dated Philip IV Mexican 8 reales in this condition, with or without shipwreck provenance, now easily bring $700-800 at a major auction. Dateless pieces with 2-3 gms of corrosion bring $400+. This 8 reales is as nice as you can expect to find in a mid-century Philip IV Mexican cob.

 

terravitan@aol.com or 480-595-1293

 

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