The royal presentation currency of the escudo, the pinnacle of Spanish colonial numismatics
Through Kyle Ponterio and Matthew Orsini – Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
A conundrum to date, the extremely rare ‘royal’ presentation issues mint-struck in Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico were a distinct departure from the normal “cob” currency that was the norm during the early centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.
Due to their utilitarian nature, normal ears were made by pouring a silver bracelet and cutting pieces of constant weight. As a result, their appearance was often coarse, with strikes usually applied unevenly or doubled, on warped and false blanks. Despite this lack of quality control, they achieved their goal of allowing mined gold and silver to enter commerce quickly in an easily quantifiable form.
The Royal presentation numbers, on the other hand, have been produced with obvious care.
Based on the appearance of the surviving examples, it is clear that each planchet was hand selected for excellent quality, and molded as a perfect round instead of being cut from the end of an ingot. (cabo de barra).
In addition to purchasing special blanks, the Royals were struck using special dies with subtle but distinct differences, such as the addition of finials for the 1714 8 escudos– clearly indicating their long production life.
To further distinguish them from their cob counterparts, most of the dies were arranged in a medallion alignment (↑↑ rather than ↑ ↓), and instead of a hastily applied strike, some thought and effort was obviously spent centering and uniformity of the strike. Overall, the high degree of craftsmanship used in the manufacturing process of these well-made and hand-selected numbers was unprecedented in the New World.
What remains unknown about these Royals, however, is their exact purpose, as researchers have found little in contemporary documents dealing with their existence. The presumed reason – and the one that makes the most sense – is that they were presented to local authorities and then set aside for transport to Spain where they could be presented to important members of society, including the king, as an emblem of the successes of the colonial expansion of Spain.
The Stack arbors the next auction in August 2020 will feature not one, but two of these exceptional and complex pieces – a 1714 8 Escudos (PCGS MS-66) and a 1711 4 escudos (PCGS MS-65), both from D. Brent Pogue Collection.
Regarding the 8 Escudos, according to the well-known and highly respected numismatist Don Canaparo (a former owner of the coin), this is the finest example of a 1714 he has ever seen. Throughout his career, Mr. Canaparo has had the opportunity to care for many of the best known survivors of some of the most iconic global coins that have hit the market. It is fitting that Mr. Pogue chose to add this coin to his magnificent collection of elite numismatic masterpieces.
With the offer of these two coins, our grand auction will provide an incredible opportunity to acquire a coin from one of the most iconic special issue series ever minted by the Spanish Empire. And, as the best known example, one could even say that the 8 Escudos in particular represent the pinnacle of Spanish colonial numismatics.
To view our upcoming auction calendar and future offers, please visit StacksBowers.com where you can register and participate in this and other upcoming auctions.
We are still looking for coins, medals and paper money for our future sales, and are currently accepting bids for our next Hong Kong auction this month of October. The deadline for submissions for this popular venue is July 17th. Our next CCO (Online Collector’s Choice) The auction will also take place in October, with the consignment deadline being September 8. If you would like to learn more about consignment, whether it is a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment managers today at 800-458-4646 or by email to [email protected] and we’ll help you get the best possible return on your hardware.