Phillip III 8 Reales Cob from Potosi

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Swervo513, Mar 24, 2023.

  1. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    Hi y’all,

    This 8 Reales Potosi Cob is a recent purchase. I liked the details so I jumped on it. Was wondering what you guys think it’s worth? I Paid $400 for it and just wondering if I was ripped off or not. Any feed back is appreciated.


    09E8815F-4EFE-42E4-A37F-331B2D97B17C.jpeg 6BC9C432-428F-47F7-B3F4-F6D4704CE912.jpeg 0CD31C95-CECB-4A02-92C7-59D7576F0035.jpeg
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Burton Strauss III

    Burton Strauss III Brother can you spare a trime? Supporter

  4. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

  5. Burton Strauss III

    Burton Strauss III Brother can you spare a trime? Supporter

    I like yours too. Cons were not nice pretty coins, oh no.

    I found that they were not really coins used in commerce as much as convenient ways to count silver on its way to the King of Spain. Bars weighing 68 pounds, smaller bars that were finger sized (but easily made off wirh) and chests of coins.

    I'm reading "SHIPWRECK A Saga of Sea Tragedy and Sunken Treasure" by DAVE HORNER which is the story of the 1654 wreck.
    Swervo513 likes this.
  6. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    That’s very interested. Got to look into that book. Didn’t realize they were not circulated.
  7. Burton Strauss III

    Burton Strauss III Brother can you spare a trime? Supporter

    Shipwreck doesn't go into the morality and history of the Spanish destruction of Central/South America, just a travelog of priest travelling back to Spain on a ship.

    It was another source - can't remember where I read it - that said the cobs and other coins had limited circulation.

  8. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That's a nice coin. Do you have the weight?

    Looking at Paoletti, your coin might be #130, Potosi, Philip III, assayer Q (Augustin de la Quadra) in the form of a C. That's what I think the letter to the left of the shield on the obverse is. The upper part is blurry, but I can't see a clear indication of an upper circle, which would make the letter a Q. If it is a Q, the coin becomes scarce.

    Here's a cob that I've owned for several years. This coin has the assayer M (Juan de Munoz?). If you look at the Q under the M you can see most of it quite clearly, despite the typically crude nature of this coin (overall fine for grade).

    I have a coin with assayer C, but I need to photograph it, which I hope to do so in the future.

    Potosi, 8 reales, Philip III, circa 1616, assayer M over Q.
    Paoletti 137
    27.10 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales Philip III c. 1616 assayer M over Q, Paoletti 137 27.1 grams 3-25-23.jpg

    Here's one more cob, to demonstrate how tough these coins can be when it comes to attributing the assayer.

    This is probably a salvaged coin, at 26.52 grams. The assayer initial very small. I think it is a larger Q over a small Q. I don't think the smaller under initial is a small C.

    Potosi, 8 reales, Philip III, c.1616, Assayer larger Q over small Q.
    Paoletti 129 (half real)
    26.52 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 r Philip III c.1616Assayer Q over CPaoletti 129 (half real) 26.52g 3-25-23.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2023
  9. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting. Are you able to circle the part you’re talking about because it’s hard for me to tell where to look. Or if u can describe it more clearly?
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    Sure. Here's a photo with the area that I am referring to outlined in blue, to the lower left of the shield.

    These hammer struck coins are very often a challenge, given the very crude nature of these coins. Add to that emersion in salt water, with resulting corrosion, and the task becomes even tougher, but that is the appeal that these coins have for me, in large part.

    There is a distinct tail that is either a C or the lower part of a Q. Its placement is quite low. If you look at the two coins that I posted the placement of the Q is higher. However, since these initials were punched into the dies in a less than ideal setting, it is possible that the assayer initial for this coin happened to be punched lower than usual.

    The OP coin has some corrosion, which makes the placement of the P (for Potosi) at the top difficult to determine. Sometimes there's a dot between the P and the Q, but again it is hard to see if this is the case with the OP coin. The tail that I refer to seems to hook far to the left and up, not connecting to the lower part of what would be a Q. That's what leads me to think that the OP coin might be assayer C, but I cannot say conclusively. The tail is quite thick, which would not be expected with a C, where the line would be thinner. Also, the coin has a strong die shift (double strike) on the shield side, which caused some shifting and blurring of detail. An expert, such as Daniel Sedwick might be able to make a better determination.

    Augustin de la Quadra, the assayer, initially used C, but for a very limited time, before switching to Q for the remainder of his output. Varieties of his coins show C alone (rare), Q over C (rare), C within Q (rare), and of course Q alone (scarce). Sometimes the initial looks as if it was a C modified into a Q. There are different sizes as well. Again, looking at the coins that I posted there is a large Q (with an equally large M over it) and a very small Q, which might have been a small C initially, changed to a Q, or, just to make life interesting, it could be a C over a Q, but I think that is unlikely.

    Potosi 8 reales assayer Q cointalk world 3-26-23.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2023
  11. H8_modern

    H8_modern Attracted to small round-ish art

    Some cobs are prettier than others but they’re all pretty cool. First one is about 25g and the rough one is about 28g


    Chris B and robinjojo like this.
  12. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That second cob looks like it is from Spain, probably Seville, judging from the style.

    The first cob is a very well made cast, created in Mexico back in the early 1960s by the Munoz brothers. This is probably one of the best made cast made cobs ever produced. Most copies of other cob types are quite obvious in comparison.

    Here is the seed coin used to make the copies. This coin was purchased from Richard Long in December 1982.

    While this coin is sharper overall, the real distinguishing feature here is the flan crack that was produced during striking. With this coin the crack is clear and deep. On the cast copies it is shallow and filled.

    This coin was a costly one, at $850 back in 1982, with some healthy bidding.

    Mexico, 8 reales, Philip III, ND (1599-1607), assayer F.
    KM 44.1
    27.4 grams

    D-Camera Mexico 8 reales Phil III ND (1599-1607) assayer F KM 44.1 R. Long 1982 27.4 g 3-26-23.jpg

    Here's another copy, but not as well done, weighing 24.8 grams, but the same casting. This is a photo from Daniel Sedwick's website.

    Fake Philip III 8 reales Mexico assayer F Sedwick 3-26-23.jpg

    Here's a link. The coin number is #FC53636.

    As copies go, yours is one of the really nicer ones.

    Attached Files:

  13. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    I weighed the coin in at 27.23 grams. I believe you are correct in attributing the Q here in as the assayer mark. I took some more pics for better visibility. You can see the remains of a thick Q with the indentation of the center of the Q. I believe the double strike or die shift cause most of the Q to fade out. Not to mention, the corrosion adds to the obscurity of the Legend. I wonder if this is solid evidence enough to confidently attribute the Q. do you see what I am talking about? Were the Qs usually that thick ?

    How can I know for sure? Would grading it help? Not sure if it’s enough to dramatically increase the value unless some sort of certification or slab came with it.

    28B0E8D5-2B65-445F-88F5-9A4B05613BED.jpeg 6A19BF48-DE1B-498E-BD3E-B964F0E7D752.jpeg E5CE497B-A57F-4DB2-814F-01157790F85E.jpeg
    robinjojo likes this.
  14. H8_modern

    H8_modern Attracted to small round-ish art

    Thanks for the info. It’s been a few years but the dealer I got it from is still around. He should have known better but I didn’t do my homework on it. Shame on me for assuming.
    robinjojo likes this.
  15. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    This is why I post most of purchases here. Lots of experts here that can tell you about your coin.
  16. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    I agree that the assayer for your coin is Q. I wouldn't go through the time and expense of having the coin graded and slabbed. The weight is good and the corrosion is very light, a very nice one to own.

    Your coin just preceded the dated coinage, which began in 1617, under assayer M.

    Here's an example:

    Potosi, 8 reales, Philip III, 1617, assayer M. From the Atocha Reference Collection.
    KM 10
    27.2 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales cob 1617 M 27.2g Atocha Ref Col no 208 WW 1990  6-27-21.jpg
  17. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    I'm very sorry. These copies of this coin have been around for decades. I've even seen one or two show up at my local coin shop in San Jose over the years.

    Many years ago I was fooled by a Potosi 8 reales copy of a 1732 YA coin. That's another well known fake. I bought it at a coin show, and I was able to get a refund. There are some tricky ones out there!
  18. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for all your help. It is great to learn about these coins. So much history. I Wonder what to value it at with the scarce assay. Comparing it to another Q assay I found on eBay you can see the similarities in the Q.
    robinjojo likes this.
  19. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    The value of a cob is determined very much in the way and ancient coin is valued. As hammer struck coins each coin is unique. Unlike machine struck coins no two cobs are exactly identical.

    Here are some factors, based on my experience:

    1. Type. Some cobs are very special. They are special because of their designs, which do not conform with the vast majority. Usually these are cobs produced for a limited period or limited quantities. Three cases come to mind. First there's the three reales cobs of Charles I, the Carlos and Johanna type, without waves. These are extremely rare. I do not have an example and doubt if I could ever afford one. Second, there is the very rare "Star of Lima" cobs of 1659-1660. These were experimental coins in all likelihood. Lima was in a dormant period, without producing any cob coinage that I know of since the late 1500's. Numismatists speculate that the Star of Lima coinage was intended to demonstrate to the Spanish Crown the ability of the mint to produce coinage in the relatively new pillars and waves format, a format used by the other mints except for Mexico, which kept the the old shield and cross design. I do have a Star of Lima cob, which is illustrated in Sedwick's Practical Book of Cobs (more on that later).

    Lima, 8 reales, Philip IV, 1659, Assayer V, "Star of Lima".
    KM 18.1
    27.6 grams

    D-Camera Lima 8 reales Phi IV 1659 Assayer V Star of Lim, KM 18.1 27.6 grams Sedwick ref  3-7-23.jpg

    Third, the mints of Potosi, Lima and Mexico produced limited quantities of what I think were presentation coins, the so-called "royal" cobs. These were coins struck on nearly perfectly round flans, often with specially prepared dies. An even rarer type, a sub type, is the heart shaped cobs. All are quite rare, the latter extremely rarer, and are often holed. I have one late round cob, from 1746, Potosi, purchased from Freeman Craig back in the early 1980s.

    Potosi, 8 reales, Philip V, 1746, assayer q, round type.
    KM R31.a
    26.3 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales 1746, Round, Freeman Craig, 6-16-20.jpg

    2. Strike and surfaces. In my book an un-salvaged coin is generally preferable to a corroded one. Of course the degree of corrosion is a factor, with some cobs coming out of the sea corroded to the point of being thin wafers with little or no detail. Another factor is strike, which is extremely variable. It's important to keep in mind that these coins were little more than silver or gold ingots, struck to prescribed standards (at least theoretically), and stamped with dies indicating a sanctioning by the crown. If only a small part of the cross or shield were imprinted, so be it. Speed of production, usually in primitive conditions, was the priority. The Spanish Crown needed the flow of these coin to be constant, through the pipeline of galleons, to finance the costs of war and to pay the bankers of Genoa, Milan and others for loans provided to the crown. So sloppy strikes are more the rule than exception. Cobs that are well centered, bold and with nice surfaces command premiums across the board. The Potosi 8 reales cob, assayer B, shown below, is a fairly common coin, but this example is in very good condition, with a good strike and nice surfaces. This is a coin obtained from Hal Blackburn, for those who knew him.

    Potosi, 8 reales cob, Philip II, No Date (circa 1581-1586), Assayer B.
    Paloetti Group 5B No 83.

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales cob, Assayer B Paloetti Group 5B No 83, Blackburn 10-29-22.jpg

    3. Period. Some periods, such as the late 1500s, produced many really appealing coins, in terms of quality, as shown above. However this is not true throughout the history of the production of these coins. There are periods that produce horrendous coins, at least in terms of quality, such as the coinage of Charles II at the Mexico City mint, and there was even a period at Potosi when fraud was committed by some assayers to debase coins for profit. These variations in quality may turn off collectors who seek perfection and beauty, but there are many, including myself, who sees these crude creations as objects of desire.

    Here's a crude cob, dated 1646, produced at Potosi in the middle of the debasement scandal, a scandal that ultimately resulted in the execution of an assayer in 1650.

    The date runs on the cross side from about 10 to a little past 11 o'clock.

    Potosi, 8 reales, Philip IV 1646, assayer R over P. Extremely rare.
    KM 19a
    26.2 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales 1646R over P, Philip IV, KM 19a 26.2 grams 12-18-22.jpg

    So there's no really simple answer to the question of value. KM does have values, but they are outdated. The best I can suggest is to study auction results and the prices on dealers' lists. And the important point of all is to have fun and acquire knowledge on these historical coins.

    You might consider getting a copy of the Practical Book of Cobs. It is a handy, excellent reference for all collectors, beginners and old timers. Make sure that you get the most current edition (fourth edition).
  20. Swervo513

    Swervo513 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for that well thought out reply. I’ve been considering making this an area of interest for me. I mostly collect early to twentieth century American coins. I dabble a little in world coins and Roman imperial. But Spanish colonial is so interesting and they really helped shape the modern world. I found it so interesting that a lot of those coins ended up with northern Italian bankers who loaned Spain the money. Fascinating.
  21. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    For all of the wealth that was flowing into Spain from her colonial mints, that wealth was not well spent, in terms of developing the Spanish economy, unlike the Dutch, English and French. As a consequence Spain began to lag behind the more northern European states economically, in a steady state of decline. This can be readily seen by the shift in scientific advances, advances in commerce and industry/technology in the north during the 17th century forward.

    The Spanish crown was indebted to bankers that helped finance the lifestyle of the court, as well as expenditures made during Spain's involvement in various wars. It is interesting that history has examples, to this day, of countries that are rich in natural resources that have experienced chronic wealth inequality (as was the case with Spain), a small middle class, recurring wars and social and economic strife, whether those resources be oil or metals or some other commodity.

    For further reading, here's a very good essay on the subject of Spain's history of wealth and decline during the times of Philip II.

    "Spain’s Lesson in Hubris: Tracing Spain’s Financial Collapse to the Beginning of its New World Empire"
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2023
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page