I suspect most of what is on this old Spanish coin's holder is either vague or wrong.

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by lordmarcovan, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    Spain: "New World Pirate Era Bronze Nummis c.1400-1600 AD" [sic], in "International Numismatic Bureau" holder

    This was a cheap coin shop pickup. It is in an "International Numismatic Bureau" holder. I believe they were (or are) one of those slightly shady boiler-room outfits which sold (maybe still sell) overgraded coins in their own self-made slabs, and they also mass-marketed cheap historic coins like this to the general public, playing up the more colorful aspects like the "pirate era" angle here.

    Some of the deposits from the coin left a residue on the inside of the plastic holder, since it rattles around loosely in there. In any event, the holder is not sealed and can be easily opened. Really, it's trash, but I've kept it on the off chance the next owner wants it.


    Let's unpack the description on that label a bit. Now mind you, I only have my suspicions- since I do not personally know the exact attribution on this piece, I'm merely left with hunches. Maybe some of you can assist.

    I will say that I do not doubt the coin's authenticity. But... the rest? Well...

    SPAIN. OK, I am pretty certain they got that part right. We've got the lion and castle there.
    NEW WORLD. I'm not so sure about that. I think maybe this could be from homeland Spain rather than a New World mint?
    PIRATE ERA. That's a rather nebulous and meaningless phrase, but OK, sure. There was pirate activity in the era this coin circulated. Just as there has been since the dawn of history. But yeah, sure, they were really active in the Atlantic during those centuries.
    BRONZE. I think it's more likely copper than bronze, but maybe they're right. I don't know.
    NUMMIS [sic]. This is just a generic Latin term for "coin". I'm more used to seeing it spelled "nummus", with no "i", but then again, it is the root word for "numismatics", so that may be where the "i" crept in. Their variant spelling might be OK. But more specifically, I am pretty sure this coin is one of the maravedis denominations. 2-maravedis? 4-? I don't know. (Update: it's a 4-maravedis piece. @John Conduitt pointed out that "IIII" to the right of the castle, which I had missed.)
    c. 1400-1600 AD. They could be right- there are some 1500s maravedis which look like this. But to me it looks later. Like 1600s. Not the year 1600 specifically, but from the 1600s in general. So maybe a bit later than the date range they indicate?
    HIGH GRADE. Meh. Whatever. It does have pretty good detail, evidence of cleaning (it likely came from a bulk hoard), and some chalky greenish deposits on it. It isn't awful. "High grade" is another rather nebulous term.







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  3. Lawtoad

    Lawtoad Well-Known Member

    I did find something similar in looking around some of the web. Not an exact match but fairly similar. I am not to familiar with cobs or "pirate money" but it does look like a fascinating area of numismatics.

    Spanish copper 2-maravedis "cob", dated 1680. "Pirate Money" of Carlos II, 1665-1700 AD. Castle within shield with crown, CAROLVS II DG around / Lion within shield with crown, HISPANIARVM REX
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    Thanks. Yep. The trouble is, there are zillions of varieties of very similar looking "lion and castle" copper "cob" coins from the 16th and 17th centuries. I do not have enough specialized knowledge to distinguish them.
  5. Lawtoad

    Lawtoad Well-Known Member

    I am guessing you did some research. It looks from what little bit I was able to find out is that these cob coins were made from roughly cut planchets by striking them with hand dies. This method of manufacture made it so that no two coins look alike. You might be very hard pressed to find any written guide to them. Since it is "pirate money" you would think someone would have attempted some sort of collector or identification guide. I suspect that there is some archeology grad student out there that has researched these.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    It's not so much that I did any research as the fact that I've been a collector for 44 years, so I've crossed paths with plenty of stuff. Enough to have a fairly well-rounded general knowledge, but not particularly specialized or deep.

    So I know what a Spanish coin of this era is supposed to look like, and I know a few things about them- heck, I've even dug some, while out detecting- but I don't have to go very far down the variety attribution rabbit hole on this kind of stuff before I'm well in over my head.

    The word "cob" supposedly comes from the Spanish "cabo de barra", or "end of the bar". Those roughly cut planchets were cut off bars, hence the irregular shapes. Or so the possibly-apocryphal tale has it. That might be suspect as well.* I'm sure Sedwick would know, but I don't want to bother him over such a trifle.

    It really doesn't matter so much, over a coin I paid ten bucks for and intend to give away. I'm just mildly curious, is all.
    Lawtoad likes this.
  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

  8. John Conduitt

    John Conduitt Well-Known Member

    Isn't the legend [D]G PH[ILIP], possibly Philip III or IV of Spain? It also has IIII next to the castle for '4 Maravedis'.

    (And for it to be true 'pirate age', it really should be late 1600s to early 1700s).
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
    Lawtoad likes this.
  9. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    Thanks. I missed the "IIII" Roman numeral there.

    And there's clearly a PH there, so yep, one of the Philips.
  10. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I'd send the pics to Dan if I were you, could be an interesting story that goes along this coin, assuming he can pin it down a bit. For instance, in the Spanish colonial mints copper was only minted for local use. Problem was, only the Spanish garrison would or could use the coins as the indigenous population flat out refused to accept them - they would only accept silver. This was largely because in the beginning when the indigenous population first got to know the Spanish, copper was disdained, cast aside as trash by the Spanish themselves, who were only interested items of gold or silver owned by the local populace. So the locals adopted this attitude towards copper as well. And when the Spanish minted copper coins for use in local commerce, the locals just wouldn't accept them as they felt like the Spaniards were trying to cheat them by giving them trash coins.

    As a result, very few copper coins were ever minted in the Spanish colonial mints for the most part. So, having a bit of info about that coin, assuming it can be obtained, could make it a bit more interesting as a collectible. And even the less than desirable holder adds a bit to that aspect of it.
    lordmarcovan and Lawtoad like this.
  11. manny9655

    manny9655 Active Member

    "Nummis" is usually spelled "nummus", but both ancient and modern Greek also have the word "νομισμα" ("nomisma") which is where the variant spelling comes from. Greek is my second language and Latin my third.
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  12. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Was not aware that the term was used post-Byzantine
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