Potosi 8 reales, 1770 JR

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by robinjojo, Feb 23, 2021 at 5:26 PM.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    When I began to collect world coinage, back in the late 1970's, I was drawn to the beauty, history and romance of the Spanish 8 reales. For the ensuing years I bought coins from Freeman Craig, Karl Stephens, Superior, Rick Ponterio and Sal Falcone, my local coin dealer in San Jose, California, to name a few.

    I collected both cob and milled coinage. The cobs, being mostly quite to very crude, have an appeal all their own. The pillar and portrait milled coinage was, in general, a vast improvement over the crude hammered coinage, with some emissions achieving remarkable beauty. Here is one such example, a coin that is generally available through auctions and retail price lists.

    Potosi, 1770
    8 reales
    Charles III
    Assayer JR
    Obverse: Crowned hemispheres, pillars on either side, with Plus Ultra banners, surrounding legend: UTRA QUE UNUM (Both are one), Potosi mint mark monograms, and florets and dots,
    Reverse: The crowned shield of Castile and Leon, JR to the left, 8 to the right, surrounding legend: CAROLUS III D G HISPAN ET IND REX (Charles III, King of Spain and the Indies, by the grace of God).
    KM 50
    27.3 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales, Charles III, 1770 JR,  AU KM50 27.3g   2-23-21.jpg

    This coin, as well as the preceding hammer "cob" coinage, is an expression of Spain's hegemony over her colonies in Latin America and the Philippines, where these coins also circulated. Silver and gold were the lifeblood of Spain, flowing to her from Mexico and South America, to finance the costly wars she was engaged in over a period of over 300 years, as well as the profligate spending of the royal family and a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy. In the end, this dependence, as well as failure to use the wealth to develop her economy, helped to lead to the decline of Spain, and leading to the rise of the nation states of Northern Europe.

    Getting back to the coin, it is quite remarkable that this beautiful coin was produced at the same time as crude cob coinage. Indeed, 1770 was the last year for the milled pillar 8 reales at the Potosi Mint. Cob coinage continued through 1773. That year milled portrait coinage was initiated, continuing on through 1825, to be replaced by republican coinage by the newly independent Bolivia.

    Some numismatist theorize that the continuation of the cob coinage was motivated by the very nature of the hammered coinage: irregular shape, and an opportunity to produce lower weight coins, an endemic issue for this mint ever since the mint scandal of the mid 1600's, even earlier. However, another reason for the continuation of cob coinage could also be practical. The pillar dies were limited in number and costly to produce, while cob dies were more readily available and comparatively easier to create. Given Potosi's large output of silver, cob coinage could be viewed as an expedient to address the need to produce coinage quickly. As with many other things in history, the truth is likely somewhere in between these two views.

    The 1770 Potosi milled 8 reales has a few varieties. There is a somewhat rare over-date, 1770/69. My coin is also a variety, though of not any particular rarity, with a dot following CAROLUS on the reverse. The third variety lacks the dot after the king's name. This third variety is at the same level, at least in Krause's pricing, as the dot variety.

    As a type coin, for collectors who do not want to collect coins in this series by mint and date, the milled 1770 Potosi 8 reales fits the bill. The strikes are very good to excellent, the design is very appealing, and they do come up for sale from time to time. A high grade coin of this type would be hard to beat.

    I have numerous Spanish mainland and Spanish colonial coinage examples that I hope to be able to photograph and post in the future.

    Please feel free to post you Spanish coinage and anything else you wish.

    Thank you
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 5:46 PM
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Great writeup and beautiful coin.

    My only pillar.

    Ferdinand VI (1747 - 1759)
    Mexico AR 8 Reales
    O: FERDND·VI·D·G·HISPAN·ET IND·REX M F 8, Crowned arms shield flanked by value and initials.
    R: VTRAQUE VNUM; Mo 1756 MoCrowned hemispheres flanked by crowned pillars.

    Ex. Harlan J Berk Buy or Bid Sale #212, July 2020
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  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I haven't put my foot into Spanish coinage (yet), but both the obverse and revere design surely looks nice. :) Thanks for showing.
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  5. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    A good reference for hammered (cob) coinage is Daniel Sedwick's Practical Book of Cobs. This is very good beginning reference in a compact format.

    Krause's Standard Catalog of World Coins Spain, Portugal and the New World is a good reference for hammered and milled coinage, although the prices listed are quite outdated.
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  6. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    .... purdy..here's a Charles ll 2 maravedis copper cob... i'm gathering coins of all the Spanish Habsburg as one of my coin missions for this year...but a couple of coins are coming from Naples and The Netherlands ..they were kings of most of the world for a time... Charles ll copper cob 001.JPG Charles ll copper cob 002.JPG
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  7. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, the Hapsburgs had their fingers in many pies within Europe, so to speak. Charles II was the last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, succeeded by Philip V from the House of Bourbon following the War of the Spanish Succession.
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  8. serafino

    serafino Well-Known Member

    So 1773 was the first year that Spain put a portrait on a coin ? seems strange since in Spanish occupied Southern Italy and Sicily they had portraits on coins going back to at least the 1600's. I have a number of Sicilian/Naples silver coins with King Charles III's portrait and his wife and their son on them from 1735 up till he left Italy and became King of the Spanish empire.

    The Sicilian/Naples King Charles III silver coins I think are better looking than the later Charles III Spanish 8 Reales coins. Much more portrait design diversity with the Italian coins.
  9. jgenn

    jgenn World Crown Collector

    Here's my example of the first year of 8 reales portrait coinage from Potosí

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  10. jgenn

    jgenn World Crown Collector

    Milled coinage was significantly more complicated to produce than the macuquina or cob. The silver ingot was passed through the roller mill many times to get it to the right thickness, including annealing, acid baths and de-lamination steps before blanks could be stamped. Then the blanks were sent through the edging mill for upsetting and edge design before finally striking the obverse and reverse design in the screw press.
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  11. jgenn

    jgenn World Crown Collector

    Here's a Potosí macuquina from 1736. The irregular edges were easily susceptible to shaving. The milled coinage that replaced these were much harder to counterfeit and the edge design made any shaving obvious.

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  12. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a typical example of a Potosi cob of 1770, assayer V. It is typically chunky and thick. The details are generally clear, but there are lots of flats spots and a typically irregular edge.

    KM 45

    26.9 grams

    D-Camera Potosi 8 reales cob, 1770V KM 45 26.9 grams  2-23-21.jpg
  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That date, 1773, was in reference to Potosi.

    Spain did produce portrait coinage well before that date, going back to at least the 1400's.
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