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Varieties of Rincón Three Reales of Mexico Charles-Joanna

29 Oct

By Cori Sedwick Downing

 

Some of the earliest coins struck at the Mexico City mint were in the 3-reales denomination, under the first assayer Francisco del Rincón (hereafter Assayer R). We can establish a relative timeline for Assayer R coins by the analyzing the quantity of lettering that is Gothic compared to the later Latin lettering. Sometimes other elements, such as the use of native punches instead of original Spanish punch designs, give us additional timeline clues. As a result, there are three varieties of 3-reales coins, in the following chronological order:

 
1. Coins with three dots for denomination and water running beneath the pillars (similar to but not the same as “pillars and waves” in later coinage)
2. Coins with three dots for denomination and no water
3. Coins with three bars for denomination and no water

 
There was some crossover of design from one variety to the next, and there was more than one design within each group.

 
By royal decree a quarter of the silver minted at the Mexico City mint was for 2- and 3-reales coins. Based on analysis of lettering, the 3-reales pieces were minted before 2-reales coins. The original decree mandated that 3 reales would be paid to
mint officials for each mark of silver they coined (according to Nesmith, the actual payout was 68 maravedís, or 2 reales, pp. 14, 43) Perhaps that’s why the 3 reales were minted in the first place; regardless, they were quickly discontinued by royal fiat.

 
How We Study the Coins

 
Many different design elements differentiate one coin from another. We usually analyze both the shield side and the pillars side separately, but we can also compare a whole coin to others. Instead of using the terms obverse and reverse, we prefer to say shield side and pillars side to avoid any confusion since there is a difference of opinion among numismatists as to which is the obverse and reverse.

 

CJ3RealesArticle1

Figure 1: Lot 615, Sedwick Treasure Auction #14, October 2013 (enlarged, illustrating important design elements)

 

Shield-side elements we analyze are the following:

 
• Whether the lion in the shield has a tongue and a crown
• Whether the pomegranate at the bottom of the shield has leaves or dots on either side of it
• Whether the crown is contained within the beaded circle or outside of it
• Whether there are four or eleven rondules in the crown
• Whether the mint mark of “M” is Gothic or Latin
• Whether all, some, or none of the legend around the shield contains Gothic or Latin lettering
• What the legend spells out (particularly how the legend ends and what stops are used to separate words)

 
Pillars-side elements we analyze are the following:

 
• Whether there are three dots with water under the pillars, three dots and no water, or three bars for the denomination
• In which direction the ribboned banner runs
• What is contained within the banner (in the case of 3 reales, PLVSVL or PLVSVT)
• Whether all, some, or none of the legend around the pillars contains Gothic or Latin lettering
• What the legend spells out (particularly how the legend ends and what stops are used to separate words)

 

Varieties of Three Reales

 
Three Dots for Denomination with Water Under the Pillars

 

 
The design element of water running under pillars must have been short-lived, given the scarcity of known coins—just four in total. This is the only Early Series coinage with this design, while waves under the pillars was a hallmark of the Late Series designs as well as later designs at other New World mints. Interestingly, the sea is calm on 3-reales coins, while the Late Series coins display choppy waters. For whatever reason, this must not have been a popular issue and was probably soon replaced by the three-dots variety without water.

 
The banner that runs between and wraps around the outside of the pillars always contains PLVSVL within it (an abbreviation for PLVS VLTRA). [It changes to PLVSVLT in the three-dots/no-water variety and reverts to PLVSVL in the three-bars variety.] The banner wraps around the pillars from lower on the left to higher on the right. [In the no-water type, the banner wraps in either direction. In the three-bars variety, the banner wraps in the same direction as the three-dots/water variety, with a Latin L instead of a Gothic L in PLVSVL.]

 
There are two known shield-side designs for this type:

 

• those with the crown (which sits atop the lions-and-castles shield) contained within the beaded circle; thus a legend surrounds the entire coin, and
• those with the crown outside the beaded circle (the design for all other Charles and Joanna coins).

 
Again, there must have been some experimentation with this design since there is no other denomination— Early or Late Series—in which the crown is contained within the beaded circle.

 

CJ3RealesArticle2

Figure 3: Lot 195, Sedwick Treasure Auction #4, November 2008 (illustrating Latin M and crown within the beaded circle)

 
Of the two known coins of the type where the crown is within the beaded circle, one displays a Gothic M mintmark on either side of the shield (the convention for coins of this period) and the other displays a Latin-M mintmark, as on the coin below. [This Latin mintmark also appears on two designs of the three-dots/no-water variety and was illustrated by Nesmith as his 5a variety. It is also interesting to note that one of those is a “crown within the beaded circle” design. Its shield side is a very close cousin, with the only discernible difference being “:” instead of “.” as a stop in the legend (all lettering is Gothic).]

 
Within the shield, the lions have tongues and crowns and the pomegranates have leaves. There are four rondules above the crown. This is true of most of the other 3 reales.

Of the second shield-side design—those with the crown outside the beaded circle—the lions in the shield are different, with a furry mane and no tongues or crowns (what Nesmith called a “native imitation”). They can be found on no-water 3 reales of the Nesmith 5b variety, of which three are known. There are probably two different legends which, like the above, are very close cousins. The legend may end in D or R on one and DE or RE on the other. The lettering is all Gothic except for Latin O’s in KAROLVS and IOHANA. The lions do not have tongues or crowns and the pomegranates have dots in place of leaves. There are four rondules above the crown.

 
On the pillars side of the coins, things are much simpler: all four known coins are struck from the same die. This lends credence to the idea that this was the lower die, or pila, which was sunk into an anvil, since that die received less wear and tear than the upper die, or troquel. All coins bear a Gothic R for assayer below the PLVSVL banner and three dots above it. All lettering in the legend is Gothic.

 
Three Dots for Denomination Without Water Under the Pillars

 

28139493_1

Figure 4: Lot 517, Sedwick Treasure Auction #22, November 2017 (three dots, no waves)

 
The bulk of the at least 40 known 3-reales coins are of the three-dots/no-water variety, nineteen of which belong to one type, the Nesmith 5c. Two other types contain nine coins (Nesmith 5b) and seven coins, respectively, and the rest are unique or almost unique types. It is evident that these coins were minted after the “water” series, given the greater use of crude or Latin lettering as the Gothic punches wore out. The Latin letter N in the legend is composed of two vertical lines and a slanted line that runs in either direction (normal N or retrograde N). This is common in other denominations under Assayer R as well. Why this is true of only the letter N is unknown and indicates a lack of a proper Latin N punch.

 
The fact that there were only a certain number of Gothic punches from which to create coins is illustrated by the letter M. The Gothic oMo-oMo on either side of the shield contained a smaller M than was needed to finish INDIARVM on the legend of the pillars side and thus the small Gothic M at the end of the word looks strange.

 

On the shield side of the coin, there are two die carryovers from the three-dots/with-water variety, Nesmith 5a and Nesmith 5b.

 
There are seven legend varieties, ranging from all-Gothic to mostly crude or Latin lettering. The use of the retrograde N appears in the later coins with the cruder lettering. The O punch (in IOHANA) must have been an early casualty of overuse because that’s the first letter to make the change from Gothic to non-Gothic.

 
On the pillars side, the same ornament used to make the crowns of the pillars—a sort of three-petaled shamrock—becomes the initial part of the legend on that side at 12 o’clock, replacing the cross potent that was used in the three-dots/with-water series. It disappears again in the three-bars variety that followed. The final M in INDIARVM is either Latin or Gothic (usually Gothic).

 
The banner that runs between the pillars always reads PLVSVLT unlike the three-dots/with-water variety which reads PLVSVL. The banner wraps in either direction with Nesmith 5a and 5b types running from high left to low right and 5c from low left to high right.

 
Three Bars for Denomination

 

17425213_1

Figure 5: Lot 615, Sedwick Treasure Auction #14, October 2013 (three bars)

 
The greater use of non-Gothic lettering and crude execution place this coin variety in the last of the 3-reales coins minted before being replaced by 4-reales coins (which turned out to be much more suitable currency). The ornament at 12 o’clock in the pillars legend is now different from both of the earlier versions of 3 reales, what Nesmith called a punch 9 (or 10 when worn). We still do not have a name or description for this punch as it does not appear on any other Spanish coin, whether minted in Mexico City or elsewhere. It only appeared on Mexican coins under Assayer R.

 
The only three-bars variety that Nesmith cataloged, which he called 5d, is not illustrated by any other coin we have seen and thus all three-bars coins are hybrids of it. Since it is photographed in his book, we know it exists. As with the three-dots/with-water variety, there are few specimens to examine and most are unique. Of the nineteen examples, four are unique. Why the mint transitioned from three dots to three bars is unknown; however, “bars” for numbers can be found on coins minted during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel. The bars resemble old Spanish accounting shorthand for Roman numerals, according to Daniel and Frank Sedwick in the 4th edition of The Practical Book of Cobs (pp. 27-28). In a perfect timeline, it would make more sense that three-dots varieties would follow three-bars varieties, but this is not the case. As with many aspect of this complicated series, we don’t usually know anything with certainty. Dots were used for denomination in 2 reales. By the time 4 reales were minted, the denomination was expressed as an Arabic 4.

 
The three-bars type always has the same PLVSVL in the banner running between and around the pillars, and the wrap direction of that banner is as the three-dots/non-water type; by this time, however, the L in the banner is crude rather than Gothic.

 
An important discovery is that there is a die-match with the three-bars shield side and the earliest of the 4-reales designs as illustrated below. In addition, the later three-bars coins have eleven rondules in the crown above the shield, while all others (and all three-dots/with-water and three-dots/no-water) have four rondules in the crown. Again, this is part of the design carryover from 3 reales to 4 reales.

 

CJ3RealesArticle4

Figure 6: Die match from 3 reales to 4 reales

 
On the three-bars shield side, there is one die carryover from the three-dots/no-water variety, in addition to six other shieldside legend varieties (five are exclusive to four-rondule crowns, two are exclusive to eleven-rondule crowns, and one is found on coins with both types of crowns). Lions have tongues and crowns, and pomegranates have leaves.

 
There are two pillars-side legends which differ in the use of N or retrograde N in INDIARVM and a “:” inserted in INDIAR:VM. Many of the letters are crude, with H in HISPANIE bearing a diagonal slash to make it resemble a crude K.

 
Conclusions

 
The most important discovery from this research into the 3-reales varieties from the Mexico City mint is that there was a die overlap between 3- and 4-reales coins. Previously these were thought to be distinct entities. Now we know that, for some period of time, the mint produced 4-reales coins using a 3-reales shield-side die. While the coins are not the same size and weight, it was possible to do this since often the tops of the legend letters on 3-reales coins were cut off while the complete legend is discernible on the few 4-reales coins we can use for comparison.

 
Based on die details, we can state that there are three broad phases of coin production under Assayer R:

 
• 3, 2, 1, ½, ¼ reales were produced first,
• 4 reales were produced next,
• And the implementation of the rhomboid panel to replace the ribboned banner with some form of PLVS VLTRA (and limited production of 8 reales) was the final phase before the start of the next assayer’s tenure.

 
Within the family of 3-reales coins, there were three varieties: three dots for denomination and water under the pillars, three dots for denomination with no water under the pillars, and three bars for denomination with no water under the pillars. We have about twice as many examples of the second variety than either of the other two, and the first variety is exceedingly rare. But, who knows whether more varieties exist? And who knows whether there are more sub-varieties within each of these three? Perhaps if we ever see the 38 recorded 3-reales coins in “buena conservación” (well-preserved condition) from the Inés de Soto shipwreck we would be surprised. (Inés de Soto, p. 129) It is doubtful that any 3-reales coins with dots and water were found on the wreck, as none is illustrated nor mentioned in the description written by Alfredo Díaz Gámez. (Inés de Soto, p. 115)

The Charles and Joanna Silver Coinage of Santo Domingo, 1542-1552

2 Feb

Originally published By Cori Sedwick Downing – October 30, 2013

The earliest Spanish colonial silver coins struck under Charles and Joanna in Santo Domingo are much rarer than their counterparts from the Mexico City mint, and while their designs are fundamentally the same, the execution of design on Santo Domingo’s products is generally much cruder. Treasure Auction #14[1] featured an offering of ten shipwreck[2] Charles and Joanna Santo Domingo coins—more coins of this type than have ever been offered in one place. The last major auction of these coins was Coins, Token and Medals from the West Indies, the 1975 Jess Peters, Inc., auction of the Ray Byrne collection, which presented nine specimens, two of each known denomination—½ real, 1 real, 2 reales, 4 reales—plus a controversial 10 reales.[3] The sale featured one ½ real, one 1 real, five 2 reales and three 4 reales, a distribution of denominations that mirrors the total population of known examples, which so far number less than a hundred in all.

The Santo Domingo mint began operating about six years after the start of the Mexico City mint and produced silver coins from 1542 to 1552. The paucity of coins compared to the thousands known from the Mexico City mint over the same time period may be due to lack of native silver and/or demand. The design of the coins was based on those used in Mexico City and followed the same royal decree: On one side was a simple crowned castles-and-lions shield with a pomegranate at the bottom of the shield, assayer and denomination to the right and left of the shield, legend lettering with stops to separate the words; and on the other side were two crowned pillars of Hercules with a banner running between the pillars, inside of which was some form of the word PLVS, mintmark on either side of the pillars, and legend lettering with stops to separate the words.

Unlike the coins from the Mexico City mint, there seems to be no consistency in placement of devices such as assayer, denomination, or mintmarks on the Santo Domingo coins; placement of castles and lions in the quadrants (“proper” being castles top-left and bottom-right, “transposed” being lions top-left and bottom-right); style of lettering (Gothic, modified Gothic, Latin); or even what the lettering spelled out. For example, of the twenty-seven known 2 reales, there are fifteen different legends on the pillars side of the coins. And, curiously, the Santo Domingo mint chose to spell the co-regent’s name as IHOANA or IYOANA (or variants thereof) instead of IOHANA, as was the convention in Mexico City. Even the predominant stop of M used in Santo Domingo was unknown in Mexico City.[4] Apparently the mint was given some leeway in its creation and use of design features not spelled out in the royal decree.

Assayer F, for Francisco Rodríguez, was the only assayer of Santo Domingo Charles and Joanna coinage. His initial does not appear on the ½ reales, is sometimes missing from the 1 and 2 reales, and always appears on the 4 reales. The denomination on the opposite side of the shield from his initial follows the same pattern. On the other hand, S and P, the mintmarks for Santo Domingo, almost always appear on the pillars side of the coins, either as S-P or P-S (and often with retrograde S). Why S-P for Santo Domingo? No one knows for sure, the leading theories being that the original name of the city was Santo Domingo del Puerto and also bore the nickname Santo Domingo Ciudad Primada; but in any case the theory that Spain didn’t send a D punch is certainly not valid, as the letter D properly appears in the legends.

The following is a summary of variations on the coins by denomination:

½ Real (Treasure Auction #14, lot 332) – October 30, 2013

332

There are two die varieties for the eleven ½ real coins studied, and Lot 332 falls into the much less common variety of the two (of which there are three coins). The differences between the two varieties are the type of stop between the lettering in the legends and the legends themselves. The more common stop is M, which is typical of other denominations, while the much less common stop is o (unknown on any other denomination).

The legends of the more common variety read MC/\RMOLVSMETMIHO/\N/\RIX on the shield side and MC/\RMOLVSMETMIHO/\N/\RX on the pill.ars side. The legends of the less common variety read MC/\ROLVSoEToIHoo/\N/\oREISIP/\ on the shield side and MC/\ROLVSoEToIHO/\N/\oREISIP on the pillars side.

In general, both varieties are characterized by Latin lettering in the legends with the use of a makeshift A created by inverting the letter V (here represented as /\); crowned pillars containing a horizontal banner with only a P inside, flanked on the outside by mintmark P-S; and a crowned Gothic KY (although the initials more resemble modern RV) for the regents’ initials on the interior of the other side.

Lot 332 has a variation seen on only one other coin (from the same shipwreck but not in the auction): beneath the KY on the interior of the shield side is a flower with petals. All other varieties have MM (two clovers, one on top of the other, stem-to-stem), a device seen again as a stop on the 2 reales.

1 Real (Treasure Auction #14, lot 331) – October 30, 2013

331

Nineteen 1 reales were studied, one being Lot 331. These coins are characterized by hybridized lettering in the legends—partly Gothic and partly Latin. On the shield side, the legend reads CAROLVS ET IOHANA in some manner, and the only device used as a stop is the M. There are five varieties of legend lettering (fewer than with 2 and 4 reales), with eight coins falling into a single variety. There are ten varieties of legend lettering on the pillars side (more in line with the amount of variety with 2 and 4 reales), two of which are the most common (five coins each) and the others unique or almost unique. Some legends bear a makeshift A by inverting the letter V.

The shields contain castles and lions in proper or transposed quadrants, beneath which is a pomegranate whose compartment is either wide or narrow. Most of the time there is no assayer or denomination to the left and right of the shield (eight coins). There is a 3-dot variety in which the dots are aligned vertically to the left and the right of the shield (six coins) or just to the left of the shield (one coin). It is unknown why this convention was adopted and it certainly doesn’t fit with the type of denomination marks found on the 2 and 4 reales.

The pillars-side legends contain nine variations, most of them spelling out some form of CAROLVS ET IHOANA RE, preceded by the cross ornament X (note the 2 and 4 reales have two types of cross ornament), while the others show some form of REGIS ISPANIARVM INDIARVN. Misspellings abound. Retrograde S’s in REGIS and ISPANIARVM are found on a few coins. Two coins bear a makeshift A made by inverting a V.

Crowned pillars contain a banner with initials P or S (or retrograde S) to the left, P or S to the right, and PL, PLV or LV within the banner. Sometimes the S and P are larger than the other letters, and sometimes they are positioned above the banner. There are eight crown styles, with two the most common and the others unique or almost unique. This is similar to the number of crown styles on 2 and 4 reales.

There are two types of stops used in the legends on either or both sides of the coin to separate words: the predominant stop, M, and :, which is found on only three coins, one of which is Lot 331, which is the only specimen to show : on both sides. Also unique on this coin is the mistaken spelling CRAOLVS instead of CAROLVS in the pillars side legend.

2 Reales (Treasure Auction #14, lots 326, 327, 328, 329 and 330) – October 30, 2013

326

There are twenty-seven 2 reales in the population census, five of which are included in this auction. These and the 4 reales are the most common denominations of Santo Domingo silver coinage. They also have the largest variety of lettering styles, stops used between words in the legends, and pillar crown types. Some of the legends contain primarily Gothic lettering while others are a mix of Gothic and Latin lettering and all spell out CAROLVS ET IOHANA in some manner on the shield side. The types of devices used for stops on both sides include M, MM (two clovers, one on top of the other, stem-to-stem), F, *, :, l, a triangle made of o’s, and a cross made of four o’s (a unique variety). By far, the most common shield-side stops are the MM (seven coins). The mixture of Gothic and Latin lettering reads CAROLVSMMETMM IYOANA. Lot 328 bears this legend while the other four have four different legends. There are also coins bearing the lettering CHAROLVS on either the shield side or pillars side or both, and these are probably earlier types since they also have Gothic lettering. While several coins bear a retrograde S in CAROLVS, none bear the makeshift A made from an inverted V on the shield side. Only one coin bears a different style of E from the norm, more like a modified Gothic letter. One auction coin, Lot 330, is probably an early type given that the lettering on both sides is Gothic.

The shield contains castles and lions in proper or transposed quadrants, beneath which is a pomegranate whose compartment is either wide or narrow. The assayer’s F is either to the left or right of the shield and the denomination (ii) is on the opposite side. Two of the coins bear neither F nor ii. Of the two predominant styles, four out of five of the auction coins fall into one or the other. The fifth, Lot 328, contains a unique combination.

Pillars-side legends are quite variable with fifteen different legends recorded. None is a clear favorite. Even what the legend says is capricious, with nine legends containing some form of CAROLVS ET IHOANA REIS and six containing some form of REGIS ISPANIA INDIARVN. Two cross types appear before CAROLVS or REGIS, X or Q. There are misspellings and omitted letters on several. The unusual E appears on a few coins, including two of the auction coins, Lot 329 and Lot 328, as does the retrograde S in REGIS and ISPANIARVM. A few coins bear the makeshift A.

There are ten crown-style variations above the Pillars of Hercules, the only clear favorite being a style shown by five coins, three of which are in the auction: Lot 327, Lot 328, and Lot 329. The mintmarks and banner mottos begin with S or retrograde S, P, oPo, *P* or *P followed by PLVS, PLV, LVS, PL, LV or PV within the banner. To the right of the banner is P, S, oSo, *S*, *S, or oP. Sometimes the S and P are much larger than the other lettering, and sometimes they are positioned above the height of the banner. The auction coins fall within three crown styles, the most common of which is what the three coins mentioned above fall into. Curiously, one pillars-side die shows an arch linking the tops of the crowns, with *-P to left, *-S to right and a row of three *’s at bottom (see census below).

4 Reales (Treasure Auction #14, lots 323, 324 and 325) – October 30, 2013

323

As with the 1 and 2 reales, the execution of design on the 4 reales is widely variable. Legend lettering can be Gothic, a mixture of Gothic and Latin, or Latin. Spelling errors are similar to 2 reales coins with instances of CHAROLVS and YOHANA. None of the ten lettering styles predominate on the twenty-seven coins studied, three of which are in the auction. Stops between words on the shield side are M, F and a cross made of four o’s. The legends read CAROLVS ET IHOANA RE with several variations. Some legends bear a retrograde S at the end of CAROLVS and some bear the makeshift A.

Just as with the 1 and 2 reales, the shield is composed of either proper or transposed castles and lions, with a pomegranate inside either a wide or narrow compartment below, and the assayer F and denomination to either the left or right of the shield. There is also a probable early type of assayer-F mark on three coins—an F with an elongated tail. The denomination invariably appears as oiiii. The predominant two designs are: F-oiiii, proper castles and lions, wide pomegranate (Lot 323 and Lot 325); and F-oiiii, transposed castles and lions, narrow pomegranate.

Eleven lettering variations are found on the pillars side of the coins. Some form of C(H)AROLVS ET IHOANA RE or REGIS ISPANIA ET INDIARVN is spelled out with three different variations of stops between words: M, : and a cross made with four o’s.  Lettering is Gothic, a mixture of Gothic and Latin, or Latin. The cross before the lettering is either X or Q. No one style predominates and some of the coins bearing Gothic lettering are unique. These coins, combined with the elements on the shield side, were clearly made early in the minting process. These are also the coins that bear the early style of assayer mark.

Nine crown style variations are found with one style found on eight coins. As with the other denominations, the mintmark can be S or retrograde S to the left and P to the right of the pillars, or the opposite. In some cases, the S and P are elevated above the banner between the pillars. In the earliest coins, there are three o’s in a triangle above and below the S and P. Within the banner are PL, PLV, LV, PLVS or PLVSV. Somewhat confusingly, three coins (including two auction coins, Lot 324 and Lot 325) show P and S within the banner (motto) and to the left and right of the pillars (mintmark). Lot 325 is probably a die match with two other coins studied: VQR #6831 (which is also Burzio #824)[5] and Lot 1547 from our Treasure Auction #8. Lot 324 is a probable die match with Estrella #2 (which is also Calicó #92).[6]

Census of Charles and Joanna Santo Domingo Silver Coins Sold at Auction, prior to Sedwick’s Auction 14 (October 2013)

½ Real
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1108
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1109
April 2010: Treasure Auction #7, Lot 1134
April 2012: Treasure Auction #11, Lot 872

1 Real
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1106
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1107

2 Reales
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1104
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1105
March 1998: Ponterio Auction #93, Lot 2335 (also Lot 1133 of Treasure Auction #7 of April 2010)
January 2004: Ponterio Auction #129, Lot 2139
January 2006: Ponterio Auction #137, Lot 2101
June 2006: Heritage #410, Lot 16860 (also Lot 728 of Ponterio Auction #147 of September 2008 and Lot 8230 of Ponterio Auction #152 of January 2010; note also this is the specimen with an arch connecting the crowns, a die-match with another example in the Isaac Rudman collection)

4 Reales
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1102
June 1975: Jess Peters (Ray Byrne), Lot 1103 (also Plate Coin in Estrella and Calicó and currently in the collection of Isaac Rudman)
September 1991: Swiss Bank Corporation Auction #27, Lot 12 (also Lot 1162 of Ponterio Auction #92 of February 1998, and the Plate Coin in Burzio, Calicó and the 4th edition of our Practical Book of Cobs)

 

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the following experts for their assistance: Freeman Craig, Carlos Jara, Jorge Proctor and Isaac Rudman.

[1] For conciseness we refer to each Sedwick auction as “Treasure Auction #X,” even though the actual titles might include U.S. and World Coins.

[2] The shipwreck has not been positively identified but for now is known as the mid-1500s “Pewter Wreck” for the large cargo of English pewter yielded to salvagers with Anchor Research and Salvage in 2011. All but one of the Santo Domingo coins offered in Treasure Auction #14 were recovered together in one small conglomerate.

[3] There is one more rare “silver” denomination known, the billon (copper-silver mix) 11 maravedís, an example of which appeared in our Treasure Auction #7 (lot 1135). A contemporary series of pure copper coins from Santo Domingo is common and not considered worthy of advanced research. The one-of-a-kind 10 reales is almost conjectural, as the Byrne specimen is believed to be counterfeit and no genuine specimens have appeared on the market for several lifetimes; at least three specimens exist, however, proven genuine by their appearance in publications dating back as far as 1576. See the article “Paper Chase: The 10 Reales of Santo Domingo” by John M. Kleeberg in Money of the Caribbean (ed. by Richard Doty, ANS, 2006). Also, there are reports of ¼ reales, particularly in the Isaac Rudman collection, but we have not seen them to confirm.

[4] For convenience, the Treasure Auction #14 catalog lot listings refer to the ornaments verbally and not symbolically, hence “cloverlike ornament” instead of M.

[5] VQR refers to Vidal Quadras y Ramón, Manuel, Catálogo de la colección de monedas y medallas de Manuel Vidal Quadras y Ramón de Barcelona (1892). Burzio refers to Burzio, Humberto F., Diccionario de la moneda hispanoamericana (1958).

[6] Estrella refers to Estrella Gómez, Miguel, Monedas dominicanas (1979). Calicó refers to Calicó, X., Numismática española (2008).

[7] Paoletti, Emilio, 8 Reales Cobs of Potosí (2006).

FUN Wrap Up and Coins Weekly

9 Jan

While the weather gods weren’t smiling upon us benevolently with our famous Florida warm winter weather, the temperature was blistering inside the Florida United Numismatists (aka FUN) 2018 winter show in Tampa. We had brisk sales and collected consignments for our next Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #23 on May 15-16, 2018. It looks like buyers and collectors are optimistic. We are too!

2018 FUN Show

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC booth at the 2018 FUN show in Tampa 

At the show, I was fortunate enough to renew my acquaintance with Ursula Kampmann, founder of CoinsWeekly, a popular online newsletter for the trade. Aside from that newsletter, she is launching companion newsletter called AuctionsWeekly which will list every Friday ”all auctions that will take place during the following week as well as just published fixed price lists.” What a great way to keep up with all the auctions that take place around the world, especially during very busy auction times! You can subscribe here: https://www.coinsweekly.com/en/Subscribe-to-CoinsWeekly-Newsletter/37. You’ll see us listed as time gets closer to our next auction.

Cori and Uschi at January 2018 FUN Show

Cori Downing, left, with Ursula Kampmann, right

By the way, if you’re in the New York City area, find us at our table at the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) January 11-14 now held in the Empire State Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt, located at 109 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10022, between Park and Lexington Avenues. We hope to see you there!

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Happy Holidays and New Year’s Resolutions 2017

21 Dec

by Cori Sedwick Downing

With a very successful Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction #22 in the history books and consignments for #23 starting to trickle in, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on our hobby and tell you trends we see for 2018.

First, let’s start with a homily that was often repeated by my father, Frank Sedwick, during his years as a coin dealer: “If you want to sell, the time to sell is when you have a willing buyer.” That seems like good advice, but more often than not, we twist that tidbit of wisdom to read, “If you want to sell and someone wants to buy, perhaps you’re not asking enough.” Frank would counter with, “There is always a willing buyer when the price is right.” So, what’s the right price? Mostly it’s a matter of demand. The right price depends on who wants/needs something at that moment. The right price could also depend on the price of silver or gold, and we all know how that fluctuates.

As a hobbyist, your New Year’s resolutions should include spending some time with your hard-earned collection to determine which coins you need to upgrade and which you’ve got duplicates of. Consider putting your duplicates at auction or private sale and hope to make enough money to afford any upgrades that might be available.

What does our crystal ball say?

We’ve seen a fair amount of what we call “grade inflation” among encapsulated coins. crystalball_coinThere’s more “mint state” material circulating than we’ve seen in the past. The old AU 58 becomes the new MS 61. This happens in many fields—not just coins—and eventually the market adjusts. The take-home lesson is to look at the COIN and not the SLAB.

Another trend that we’ve noted is that more and more collectors of US coins are transitioning to collecting world coins. By comparison, world coins are a bargain! The material is also fresh to them as opposed to the same old retread US coins. There’s no reason to believe that this influx of buyers won’t continue. This is not only valid for the Latin American market, where we see the trend auction after auction but also for mainland Spanish coins that finally seem to have found their way into the US collectors field.

A continuing trend is that quality trumps rarity. Even when a coin is unique or very rare, if its quality or grading is low, it may fetch less at auction than a coin of lesser rarity but higher quality.

One more comment regarding the market for 2018 (at least in our field): we have noticed a big interest in Latin American military decorations, medals and tokens. They are now eligible for grading and better understood thanks to several works published in recent years. Their price has made them affordable in the past but the feeding frenzy has begun and they may not be so affordable in the future.

In the end, a wise collector learns as much as he or she can and applies good sense to investing. Don’t buy something for the sake of having it; buy it because you like it. That way you can always examine your coin collection with a smile and most likely you will hold it for a longer time increasing the chances of eventually the value also going up.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones from the team at Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC—Daniel, Augi, Cori, Connor, and Michelle.

You can find us in the New Year at these shows:

          (Consignment deadline for Auction 23, February 25 )

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Sedwick Treasure Auction Wrap-Up, Tips for Buying Cobs, and Where to Find Us

8 Dec

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I’m finally able to take a breather from post-auction duties of packing and shipping to share some thoughts with you. First, all of us at Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC want to thank our bidders, consignors, auction speakers, and auction attendees for helping make Treasure Auction #20 one of our best auctions to date. Without YOU, auctions don’t happen. We are grateful for the personal and professional relationships we have nurtured over the years and look forward to many more.

As the Christmas buying season kicks into high gear, there are a few reminders to help you get the most for your money, at least when it comes to buying coins. When you buy a widget, you go to a store that you know sells them. For example, I buy electronics at a place like Best Buy. When you buy a coin, particularly a niche coin like a cob, you need to find a specialty seller, someone who knows what he’s doing.

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Can You Tell This is a Counterfeit?

If you don’t, you may buy a fake instead of the real thing. Or, you may buy something less than what it should be for the price because the seller doesn’t really know his product. Either way, you won’t be satisfied with your purchase. Again, always buy from reputable dealers whether you’re buying a shipwreck coin or a dryer.

Next, whether it’s a cob or a car, buy what you like. This is especially true for any commodity that you might consider an “investment” because most things appreciate only after you’ve held onto them for a good period of time. Quick profits don’t happen very often, so plan to enjoy your purchase for years. When you do sell, you’ll be well rewarded.

Finally, buy the best you can afford if you really want to be happy with your purchase. Buyer’s remorse from letting the coin you really wanted get away from you stays with you for a long time. If you’re building a collection, it’s much easier to buy great quality at the beginning than spend time and effort to upgrade later. That said, if what you can afford isn’t the best quality, don’t worry. You’ll be happy to simply own the piece in the first place.

We can help you build the collection of your dreams. Just ask us! And, you can visit us in person at the following 2017 shows where we will have a table:

schelude2017show2Happy Holidays to all and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

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What You Can’t Live Without in Treasure Auction #20 (part four)

8 Nov

We’re into the home stretch with only 4 days to go until the auction! We hope you have been bidding and will join us for the live portion.

Below are some of the most important artifacts in the auction, and while most of these items will come up at the end of the auction, it’s definitely a case of “last but not least.” Coins–as well as all shipwreck treasure–are our business, and you can be confident that we know what we’re talking about in our descriptions.

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Lot 473, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

Why have one coin when you can have several? The above is a large clump of 20+ Mexican cob 8 reales, two in front dated 1714. It’s a very impressive display that stands up well, also a very rare item these days and was recovered from the Spanish 1715 Fleet off the east coast of Florida.

 

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Lot 1636, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

You could eat off the above plate today because it’s in such good condition. It’s marked with a tax stamp and LDo.IVo. / RAMYREZ under rim. More important, the underside of the rim bears most of a castles-and-lions circular tax stamp and a stamping in tiny letters that exactly matches lots 41-43 of the Christie’s 1988 Atocha auction, in which that mark was described as an “owner’s stamp.” It is clearly part of a set with this bigger basin; those three lots were only 8-7/8″ in diameter and described as “dinner plates.” They fetched some of the highest prices realized among the silver plates in that sale, upwards of $6000 hammer, but not even close to the price realized for the only large basin (like what we are offering here but slightly bigger), lot 47, which hammered at $22,000!

 

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Lot 1642, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a complete gold plain-loop chain, 34.55 grams, from the “Tricentennial Treasure” find of 2015. There are hundreds of tiny plain links in a tight chain (easily kinked) that is remarkable for being unbroken and complete, eminently wearable and attractive despite its simplicity, also one of the first artifacts from the famous “Tricentennial Treasure” to be offered for sale. From the 1715 Fleet (Douglass Beach site).

 

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Lot 1654, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

What’s an auction with out a cannon? The above Danish naval “4-pounder” bronze howitzer from the late 1700s  is  believed to have been from military and naval stores captured by the British during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1807. Sent to England, these items were used by English forces during the Napoleonic Wars and in America and Canada during the War of 1812. Some ended up in American service due to capture or purchase. The bronze barrel has a chambered bore (which most howitzers have), a designated area for the powder charge, turned decorations and cast with bronze pointing tiller cascabel ending on a rounded ball end. This cannon was made for use as a swivel gun but is now mounted on a mahogany naval deck carriage (complete and serviceable with working elevation screw and wheels) with correct brass and iron mounts and four wheels from the early 19th century (possibly exact replacements made later). The barrel is in excellent condition with minor surface wear and excellent light-brown patina.

Once again, we hope you all your bids are winning bids!

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What You Can’t Live Without in Treasure Auction #20 (part three)

2 Nov

Today we want to make you aware of some very important silver coins you can bid on in our upcoming Sedwick Treasure, World, U.S. Coin & Paper Money Auction #20. When you see descriptions containing words or phrases like “unique,” “very rare,” “finest known,” and “unlimited value,” you can be sure these items will bring top dollar…and be worth every penny. It bears repeating that we often say you should buy the “best” coins  you can afford, whether that means coins in the best condition or of the highest rarity. The good things in life don’t come cheaply but you’ll rarely regret your decision to buy them and enjoy them for years. Good luck in our auction!

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Lot 561, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a Mexico City, Mexico, 4 reales, Charles-Joanna, “Early Series,” coin and those who collect them know that varieties with the assayer mark (P) to the left and mintmark (M) to the right are generally much rarer than others. Also, this is an early variety in Assayer P’s tenure with the use of HISPANIE instead of the later use of HISPANIARVM in the legend on the pillars side.

 

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Lot 664, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare Mexico City, Mexico, cob 1 real Royal, 1643/2P. It is probably unique, but certainly unique in quality and of almost unlimited in value to the specialist collector.

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Lot 777, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1634T and the first coin collected by Emilio Paoletti, (and ex-Burzio, ex-Martini, ex-Janson) with copy #1 of Paoletti’s book 8 Reales Cobs of Potosi (3rd ed., 2016) and signed by him on the first page where the number 001 appears. What a remarkable pedigree!

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Lot 857, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1652E transitional Type III from the Capitana (1654). What is interesting about this die variety is that the O-E above 52 to right of shield is punched over N-8.

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Lot 961, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal, 1714Y with an interesting four-digit date below cross (the standard for 1712-15).

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Lot 967, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a very rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal, 1725Y, Louis I, ordinal PRIMERO. Royals of Louis I are among the most desirable and difficult to obtain, particularly since the general coins of this period are so crude. The present example is very bold, with full inner details and nearly full legends, including full LVIS PRIMERO (not just PR) and POTOSI (the pillars side slightly off-center).

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Lot 1027, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare and currently unique Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1732YA. This is a very important 4R, as it is the ONLY date and assayer (not counting overdates) that we have NEVER seen in our 25-year study of Potosi pillars-and-waves cobs.

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Lot 1079, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is an extremely rare Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real Heart, 1718Y. It’s an attractive example of the classic Heart shape and like most Heart minors, this specimen is probably unique.

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Lot 1086, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a Bogota, Colombia, cob 8 reales, 1670, assayer PoRS. It’s the finest and only known specimen in NGC census (NGC certification #4348135001) and is certainly among the choicest Bogota pillars-and-waves cobs in existence, in fact the highest of all Bogota cob 8R at NGC by two grades.

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Lot 1338, Sedwick Treasure Auction #20

The above is a very rare Nicaragua (Leon), provisional “imitation cob” 2 reales, 1823 P.M.P.Y. It is probably the finest known of this Leon type with “pine tree” tops of pillars, a type rarely seen without a hole or significant damage. See Carlos Jara’s book Central American Provisional and Provincial Mints (2007) for more information about the attribution of this type to Leon.

We hope you find exactly what you’re looking for in our upcoming auction and please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. You can see coin lots in person this weekend (and see Dan, Augi, and Connor) at the Whitman Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center November 3-6.

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