Sedwick’s May 2-3 Treasure Auction 25 posts $2.05 million

11 May

A shipwreck-recovered early Spanish colonial gold tumbaga bar (lot 194) weighing 1.816 kilograms with a marked fineness of 5.75 karat saw heavy interest during Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin & Paper Money Auction 25 conducted online on May 2-3. After the spirited bidding concluded, the bar realized a price of $50,575 on a $35,000 and up estimate. The bar was one of thirteen gold ingots recovered from the “Tumbaga wreck” which sank around 1528 off Grand Bahama Island. The surfaces of the bar bear the tax stamps in the name of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor who also ruled over Spain at the time.


Lot 194 – Large tumbaga gold ingot, 1816 grams, marked with fineness V and three dots (5.75 karat, or 23.96% fine), also marked with R and S and several tax stamps of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, ex-“Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528), Garcia-Barneche Plate.

For silver shipwreck bars, a high-grade silver bar (lot 208) weighing 92 troy pounds, 3.84 troy ounces that was recovered from the wreck of the Atocha, sunk in 1622 off Key West, Florida sold for $57,715 on a $30,000 and up estimate. The bar was graded Class Factor 1.0, the highest grade given to Atocha silver bars, despite spending 300 years on the ocean floor. Two other Class Factor 1.0 Atocha silver bars in the sale weighing 76 troy pounds, 10.24 troy ounces (lot 209) and 60 troy pounds, 7.68 troy ounces (lot 210) sold for $50,575 (estimate: 25,000 and up) and $47,600 (estimate: $20,000 and up) respectively.


Lot 208 –

Also from the Atocha shipwreck was a gold “finger” bar weighing 622 grams with a 20.25 karat fineness (lot 196) that went for $47,005 on a $25,000 and up estimate. Likewise, coins from the Atocha attracted heavy interest with a 1617-dated gold cob 2 escudos struck in Seville, Spain (lot 64) bringing $33,320 on an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. Silver cobs from that wreck also saw very strong bidding; some coins brought over double the high estimate.


Lot 64 – Seville, Spain, cob 2 escudos, 1617G, rare, ex-Atocha (1622).

A selection of rarities from the wreck of the Santa Margarita, sister ship of the Atocha and lost at the same time, also appeared in the auction. Lot 197, a gold bar weighing 282 grams with a marked fineness of 19.5 karat realized $33,320 on a $15,000 and up estimate. Also from the wreck was a Seville, Spain-struck gold cob 2 escudos (lot 65) from the reign of Philip III graded PCGS MS 61 that brought $17,255 on an estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.

“We are extremely pleased with the sale results,” said president and company founder Daniel Sedwick. “This was our second highest earning May auction since we began hosting auctions in 2007. A combination of motivated bidders and great consignments of fresh and varied material made this sale a success.”

The world coin sections of the auction saw many top rarities end up in new collections. For gold, an Argentina 8 escudos dated 1832/1 (lot 80) graded NGC MS 62 and pedigreed to the George Gund collection earned $26,180 on a $20,000 and up estimate. In silver, a Potosi, Bolivia-minted bust 8 reales dated 1776 (lot 917) and graded NGC MS 64 collected $10,115 on a $2,000 to $3,000 estimate.

Other top lots in the auction include:

  • Lot 8 – Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1705H, NGC MS 62, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $30,940
  • Lot 13 – Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1714/3M, NGC MS 62, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $29,750.
  • Lot 1535 – Gold chain, 43” long with fineness of 22 karat, ex-1715 Fleet, pedigreed to the Real Eight Company, sold for $23,800.
  • Lot 195 – Cut gold “oro corriente” piece with crowned-CA tax stamp for Charles I of Spain, 42.08 grams, ex-1500s wreck, sold for $20,230.
  • Lot 124 – Guatemala, bust 8 escudos, Ferdinand VI, 1757J, NGC VF 35, sold for $17,969.
  • Lot 201 – Large gold-in-quartz specimen, 323.2 grams, from the Sixteen to One Mine in Alleghany, California, sold for $16,660.
  • Lot 655 – Mexico City, Mexico, 4 reales, Charles-Jaonna, “Early Series,” assayer F/P to right, mintmark M to left, NGC AU 53, ex-Rudman, sold for $13,090.
  • Lot 203 – Silver “tumbaga” bar #M-105, 3,595 grams, assayer B~Vo, sold for $10,710.
  • Lot 510 – USA, gold $20 coronet Liberty “double eagle,” 1857-S variety 20A, PCGS MS 64 / SS Central America, sold for $8,330.
  • Lot 1133 – Lahore, India (British), original proof ½ rupee, 1945-L, George VI, large 5, PCGS PR65, sold for $8,330.

Lot 1133 – Lahore, India (British), original proof 1/2 rupee, 1945-L, George VI, large 5, PCGS PR65.

  • Lot 826 – Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales Royal (galano), 1749q, sold for $7,735.
  • Lot 1436 – San Jose, Costa Rica, Banco de la Union, 25 pesos specimen, 1889, PMG UNC 63 EPQ, sold for $7,735.
Lot 1436

Lot 1436 – San Jose, Costa Rica, Banco de La Union, 25 pesos specimen, 1-5-1889, series A, PMG Choice UNC 63 EPQ.

  • Lot 238 – Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer M, Grade 1, ex-Atocha, sold for $7,140.
  • Lot 966 – Santiago, Chile, “volcano” peso, 1832I, PCGS AU55, sold for $6,783.

Full prices realized can be viewed at The company’s next auction will be held Nov. 2-3, 2019 with a consignment deadline of Aug. 17, 2019.

NGC graded coins, PMG graded notes featured in Sedwick’s May 2-3 Treasure Auction 25

22 Apr

A large variety of rare NGC graded coins and PMG graded banknotes are coming up for bid on May 2-3 in Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure, World, U.S. Coin and Paper Money Auction 25. The floor auction will take place live online at; advance bidder registration is recommended. Here’s a look at some of the top lots appearing in the sale:

NGC-graded coins

PMG-graded notes

To bid on these and other lots in the auction, please visit

Argentina gold, shipwreck treasure tops Sedwick’s 25th Treasure Auction

18 Mar

A rare, early Argentinean gold coin in a remarkably high grade is coming up for auction May 2-3 as part of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure, World, US Coin & Paper Money Auction 25.


Argentina (River Plate Provinces), 8 escudos, 1832/1P, La Rioja mint, NGC MS 62. Estimate: $20,000 and up.

The top coin lot is an Argentina gold 8 escudos struck in 1832 at the La Rioja mint. The coin exhibits an overdate of 1832/1 and is graded by NGC as MS 62, a rare grade for the type. It is pedigreed to numismatist George Gund III’s collection. The obverse of the coin depicts a sunface, a common design found in post-colonial Latin American coinage. The coin is estimated at $20,000 and up.


Large “tumbaga” gold ingot, 1816 grams, marked with fineness V and three dots (5.75 karat, or 23.96% fine), also marked with R and S and several tax stamps of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, lot #297 of the Christie’s (London) auction of April 28, 1993, ex-“Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528). Estimate: $35,000 to $50,000.

The sale will also host a number of ingots recovered from famous shipwrecks. One such ingot is a large gold bar from the Tumbaga wreck which sank around 1528 off Grand Bahama Island. The bar weighs 1.816 kilograms and contains 9 karat gold with a balance of silver, copper, and other trace metals. The early Spanish colonial bar also bears the tax stamps of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. It is estimated at $35,000 to $50,000.


Gold “finger” bar #33, 622 grams, marked with fineness XX-dot (20-1/4K) three times, foundry / owner SARGOSA / PECARTA and seven tax stamps, ex-Atocha (1622). Estimate: $25,000 to $37,500.

Another gold bar and four silver ingots from the wreck of the Atocha, sunk in 1622 off Key West, Florida, are also available for bidding. The largest silver bar weighs 92 troy pounds, 3.84 troy ounces and features markings from the owner, Arriola, and the assayer, Mexia. The bar is accompanied by the original salvager’s certificate as well as stock certificates originally issued for the salvage company. The estimate on the bar is $30,000 and up.

The gold bar from the Atocha weighs 622 grams and has a gold fineness of 20-1/4 karats. Its long, thin shape led to its modern day nickname of “finger” bar. The surface of the bar shows markings for the fineness, foundry, owner, and seven tax stamps. The lot also includes the original salvager’s certificate. The ingot is estimated by the auction firm at $25,000 to $37,500.

Shipwreck coins will make a big showing in the auction. In a rare occasion, a pair of gold Seville, Spain cob 2 escudos, one each from the Atocha and its sister ship Santa Margarita that sank at the same time, will appear in the sale. The Atocha 2 escudos is dated 1617 and estimated at $7,000 to $10,000. The Santa Margarita 2 escudos bears a partial date from the 1620s and is estimated at $6,000 to $9,000.

Another shipwreck artifact of historical importance is a 22-karat, 42” long gold chain from the “Cabin wreck” site of the 1715 Fleet. The fleet sank on July 31, 1715 off the east coast of Florida during a hurricane while carrying treasure to Spain. On July 21, 1964, the chain was recovered and documented by the salvage company Real Eight Company. Supporting documents attesting to the find and where it was located at the wrecksite are included with the chain. The estimate on the lot is $20,000 and up.

Other top lots in the sale include:

  • Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1705H, from the 1715 Fleet and graded NGC MS 62 as well as pedigreed to the Real Eight Co. and Pullin collections. Estimate: $15,000 and up.
  • Cut gold bar #22, 282.2 oz troy, marked with fineness XIX: (19.5K) four times, assayer/foundry FERNAND / ALONSO, and tax stamps, from the Santa Margarita. Estimate: $15,000 and up.
  • Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1714/3M, rare, NGC MS 62, from the 1715 Fleet (designated on label). Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.
  • Guatemala, gold bust 8 escudos, Ferdinand VII, 1757J, NGC VF 35. Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.
  • Honduras, gold 10 pesos, 1883, NGC AU 50. Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.
  • Large gold-in-quartz specimen, 323.2 grams, from the Sixteen to One Mine in California. Estimate: $12,500 to $20,000.
  • Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1747V, NGC MS 63, finest known in NGC census. Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Guadalajara, Mexico, bust 8 escudos, Ferdinand VII, 1821FS, rare, NGC AU 50, ex-Damon (stated on label). Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Peru, gold star medal with diamonds, ca. 1853, rare, Salbach Plate. Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.
  • Popayan, Colombia, 10 pesos, 1870, extremely rare, PCGS AU 58, finest known in PCGS census. Estimate: $7,000 to $10,000.
  • Set of original proof British India silver coins dated 1945 consisting of the one, half, and quarter rupees, all graded by PCGS. Combined estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.

Bidders can register now for the auction at The auction catalog will be available April 8 at For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at

Sedwick hosts record $3.1 million auction

9 Nov

A variety of rarities and strong turnout by bidders helped propel Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC’s Treasure Auction 24 results to over $3.1 million, a record-breaking sale for the firm. The sale, held live on Nov. 2-3 in Orlando, Florida and online on Nov. 5, featured over 2,300 lots. All prices cited include a 19 percent buyer’s premium.

Among the top lots in the sale was a set of specially struck 1915-dated Cuban gold pesos (lots 146-151). Five of the six coins, the 1, 2, 4, 10, and 20 pesos, are specimen strikes and certified as such by NGC. They are the only known specimen strikes for the series. The sixth coin, a 5 pesos, was graded NGC MS 66+ for its exceptional surfaces and is the finest graded for the type. All together, the set raised $473,025 on a combined $49,000 low estimate. The six lots were sold individually yet purchased by the same bidder. The top coin for the set was the specimen 20 pesos which took in $130,900 on a $20,000 and up estimate.


Cuba 1915 Specimen 20 Pesos, graded NGC SP 63. Realized: $130,900.

“This was our largest sale yet,” said president and company founder Daniel Sedwick. “This result was helped by having a variety of rare coins that appealed to a wide audience of collectors.”

An example of one of the first coins to be struck in the Americas, a Mexico City-struck Charles-Joanna “Early Series” 3 reales graded NGC VF 30, went up for bid as lot 664. Once bidding had concluded, the coin sold for $83,300 on a $35,000 to $70,000 estimate.


This Charles-Joanna “Early Series” 3 reales (note the denomination as three dots between the pillars) realized $83,300.

Strong bids were placed for two large silver bars, lots 256 and 257, recovered from the shipwreck of the Atocha, sunk in 1622 off Key West, Florida. Both bars came with Mel Fisher photo-certificates, were graded Class Factor 1.0, were of similar weight (83 troy pounds, 2.3 troy ounces and 81 troy pounds, 6.56 troy ounces, respectively), and estimated at $30,000 to $45,000 each. The bars ended up selling for $59,500 and $56,525, respectively.

Latin American world gold coins fared especially well in the sale. Lot 206, a Cuzco, Peru, 8 escudos, 1837BA, FEDERACION type, graded by NGC as MS64+ Prooflike realized $53,550 on a $35,000 to $50,000 estimate.


This Cuzco, Peru, 1837BA 8 escudos graded NGC MS64+ Prooflike is the finest recorded on the NGC census.

Other top lots in the auction include:

  • Lot 5 – Mexico City, Mexico, cob 8 escudos, 1715J, special planchet and strike, NGC MS 64, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $50,575.
  • Lot 90 – Seville, Spain, cob 2 escudos, 1619G, ex-Atocha (1622), sold for $38,080.
  • Lot 25 – Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1710H, NGC MS 63, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $33,320.
  • Lot 247 – Gold “finger” bar, 466 grams, marked with fineness XVII (17K), twice cut, encrusted with coral, ex-“Golden Fleece wreck” (ca. 1550), sold for $30,940.
  • Lot 32 – Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1714/3M, very rare, PCGS MS62, ex-Pullin, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $28,560.
  • Lot 1 – Mexico City, Mexico, cob 8 escudos, 1713J, NGC MS 64, ex-1715 Fleet, sold for $16,065.
  • Lot 901 – Argentina (River Plate Provinces), 8 reales, 1815F, Potosi mint, PCGS MS64+, sold for $15,470.
  • Lot 249 – Small gold ingot, 6.35 oz., dated 1959, New York Assay Office, ex-Bently Collection, sold for $13,090.
  • Lot 568 – Mexico City, Mexico, cob 8 reales, (1)715(J), from the pirate ship Whydah (1717), sold for $13,090.
  • Lot 1477 – USA (Philadelphia mint), high relief $20 St. Gaudens “double eagle,” 1907, wire rim, sold for $9,520.
  • Lot 1557 – Colombia, Banco de Panama, 5 pesos, ND (ca. 1869), serial RP 1715, PMG Choice VF 35, sold for $2,975.

Full prices realized can be viewed at The company’s next auction will be held February 20, 2019 with a consignment deadline of March 3, 2019.

NGC-certified Cuban gold coins far exceed estimates at auction

7 Nov

Special article contributed by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation


Six NGC-certified gold Cuban coins struck in Philadelphia, including two that realized six figures, were among the highlights of an auction held Nov. 2-5 in Orlando, Florida. All far exceeded their pre-auction estimates at the sale by Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.



Cuba 1915 Specimen 20 Pesos, graded NGC SP 63. Realized: $130,900.

The two top lots in the entire auction were a 1915 Cuba Specimen 20 Pesos, graded NGC SP 63, and a 1915 Cuba Specimen 10 Pesos, graded NGC SP 64. Realizing $130,900 and $107,100, respectively, the coins represent an interesting time in Cuban history.

After a brief time as a US protectorate, Cuba became independent in 1902. Still, the US maintained considerable influence in the island republic for decades, as evidenced by the designer and mint of these gold coins, the first issued by Cuba.

Struck at the Philadelphia Mint, they were designed by US Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber (famous for the US Barber Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar). The Cuban coins were issued in denominations of 1, 2, 4, 5, 10 and 20 Pesos, and a small number of Proofs were made. It is believed some 24 to 36 of the 10 and 20 Peso issues were struck in Proof, along with 100 each of the 2, 4, and 5 Peso coins. The most common is the 1 Peso issue, with some 140 Proof coins struck.

The 1, 2, 4, 10, and 20 peso coins from this set were clearly something different. They were not exactly Proofs, but also clearly not Mint State coins. It is apparent that these coins were struck with extra pressure in order to bring up the rims, and it is likely that the planchets were also specially prepared. This gave the coin a semi-matte appearance, in comparison to the mirrored fields of the Proof issues.

The top lot in the auction was the Cuba 1915 Specimen 20 Pesos, from this special, unique striking. This coin was from a set of six coins, which included five Specimens and one exceptionally nice Mint State example. While the 20 Pesos was only estimated at $20,000 to $40,000, it sold for an astounding $130,900.



Cuba 1915 Specimen 10 Pesos, graded NGC SP 64. Realized: $107,100.

Also breaking the six-figure mark was the 10 Peso issue. It is also believed to be unique, and brought $107,100, far higher than its $10,000 to $20,000 estimate. The same collector who purchased the 20 Peso coin bought this one, as well as the other four coins in the set.

In all, the six coins realized $473,025, more than four times their cumulative estimates. Compare this amount with the result of a similarly graded 1915 gold Cuban Proof set (as opposed to specimens) that was sold as a single lot in January 2018 by Heritage Auctions for $180,000, and you can see that the set in the Sedwick sale is in a league of its own.

The remaining four Cuban coins were among the other NGC-graded highlights from the sale:

“We were very pleased with the results on NGC-certified coins, which are becoming a bigger part of our offerings with every auction,” said Daniel Sedwick, president and founder of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC.

History and Design Merge with Classic Commemoratives

31 Oct

By Connor Falk


The classic commemorative silver half dollar series represents a merger of historical events and people with appealing coin designs. Issued between 1892 and 1954, classic commemorative halves were struck and sold to the growing coin collecting community in the United States. The use of coinage to represent important American events, places, people, and events broadened the appeal of coin collecting. Their designs reflect both the classical themes in use during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the art deco era of the 1920s and 1930s, and the post-World War II modernism during the late 1940s and early 1950s.


Due to their low mintages and wide collector market, the series has appreciated substantially from the $1 to $2 the coins were originally sold for. In this article, I’ll highlight three important classic commemorative coins as well as an overview of the other commemoratives in our Nov. 2-3 auction.


150th Anniversary of Captain Cook’s Discovery of Hawaii – 1928


1928 Hawaii Half Dollar

Commemorating the sesquicentennial of Captain James Cook’s arrival at the Hawaiian islands on a commemorative half dollar was initially raised in 1927 by the territorial government of Hawaii. The bill easily passed Congress and was signed on March 7, 1928 by President Coolidge. The Philadelphia Mint struck the complete mintage of the type at 10,008 coins. Eight of those struck were used for assay purposes; the other 10,000 were sold by the Bank of Hawaii at $2 a coin. The commemorative proved to be very popular with collectors and quickly sold out. Since then, its low mintage, scarcity, and popularity both in subject matter and design have driven demand and it is now considered a key date in the classic commemorative half dollar series.


The obverse of the coin depicts a left facing bust of Captain Cook with the legends UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST, and HALF DOLLAR just above, to the right, and below the bust, respectively. To the left of the bust, it reads “CAPT. / JAMES COOK / DISCOVERER OF / HAWAII.” The reverse shows a Hawaiian chieftain in front of a Hawaiian beach, holding a spear and with his right arm outstretched with the legends E PLURIBUS UNUM and 1778 1928 below.


The example in our sale, lot 1498, is graded NGC MS 63. The estimate on it is $1,250 to $2,000.


400th Anniversary of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Old Spanish Trail – 1935


1935 Old Spanish Trail Half Dollar

The authorization and design of the 1935 Old Spanish Trail half dollar was a personal project of L.W. Hoffecker, an El Paso coin dealer and ANA official (he would later become the organization’s president from 1939 to 1941). In his position as the chairman of the El Paso Museum Coin Committee, he lobbied the government for a bill to commemorate Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s expedition from Florida to northern Mexico from 1528 to 1536. Once the bill had passed, Hoffecker worked with a sculptor, Edmund J. Senn, to create the coin design in plaster based on Hoffecker’s original sketches.


The design takes some artistic liberties with Cabeza de Vaca’s travels: stops in St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston and San Antonio are shown despite Cabeza de Vaca travelling mainly by boat around the Gulf coast. Upon approval of the designs, the US Mint struck the 10,008 coin mintage in September. Hoffecker received 10,000 of the coins to resale for $2 plus postage; another eight were used for the Assay Commissions annual meeting. By most accounts, the coins were well-received by collectors and, though they took time to sell out, are rather scarce and desirable.


The obverse of the coin shows a cow head, symbolizing Cabeza de Vaca which literally translates as “head of a cow.” Above, the legends read UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and LIBERTY, below the legends read ALVAR NUÑEZ CABEZA DE VACA and HALF DOLLAR. The reverse design consists of a palmetto tree in front of a map depicting Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas with a line showing Hoffecker’s interpretation of Cabeza de Vaca’s journey. El Paso is marked at the far left. Legends read OLD SPANISH TRAIL above and 1535 – 1935 below.


The example in our sale, lot 1504, is graded NGC MS 65. The estimate on it is $800 to $1,200.


100th Anniversary of Missouri’s Admission to the Union – 1921


1921 Missouri Centennial Half Dollar

The authorization for the Missouri Centennial half dollar called for a massive mintage of 250,000 coins, a reduction from the 500,000 called for in a prior draft of the bill. Such a mintage would easily make it one of the most common classic commemoratives, yet only 50,028 coins were struck. Of this, 28 were set aside for the Assay Commission. The 50,000 mintage was then sent to the Sedalia Trust Company for mail orders as well as sales at the Missouri Centennial Exposition at a price tag of $1.


Of these 50,000 coins, 5,000 were initially struck with a special notation 2*4 to the left of the bust before having this device ground off the dies. For the 45,000 without the 2*4 notation, 29,600 coins were melted after sales proved sluggish. The final numbers, 5,000 coins with 2*4, 15,400 without 2*4, are suspect as modern market prices suggest the availability for both versions is about the same with a slightly higher premium for the 2*4 versions. Many numismatic experts suggest a roughly even 10,000/10,400 split is more likely.


The obverse shows a left-facing bust of Daniel Boone wearing a coonskin cap with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above, 1821 and 1921 flanking, and HALF DOLLAR below. The notation 2*4 is present to the left of the bust, just above the 1821. The reverse shows a frontiersman holding a rifle and gesturing to the left, directing the attention of a Native American who is holding a peace pipe. A field of stars is set along the background with SEDALIA below and MISSOURI CENTENNIAL above.


The example with 2*4 notation in our sale, lot 1490, is graded NGC MS 64. The estimate on it is $800 to $1,200.


Other Classic Commemoratives in our auction:

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.



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.



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



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



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.



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.


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)

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