Cobs and Shipwreck Coins
One of the most fascinating areas of world coin collecting is that of Spanish colonials. You can find essentially the same coins minted in the Spanish colonies of Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru, from the early s to the early s. They circulated as far north as Canada and as far east as Florida.
These coins look alike, with subtle differences in mint marks and other small details, so it takes detailed knowledge to tell them apart. This page discusses some these details and gives approximate values.
But, this is only a web page. Coin catalogs and reference books have much more detail. For instance, Spanish colonies in Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Philippines produced small amounts of coinage, but they are not included here. There are also pre coins and small denominations not addressed.
You can learn from this summary, but it is just a starting point. It is important to know the kings of Spain during this period, as their names and portraits appear on many coins. Methods of manufacture - There are two major types of Spanish colonials, and several sub-types. At the highest level there are cob coins and there are milled coins.
Both come in gold and silver. The rich deposits of precious metal in the New World were too much for Spanish royalty to resist. They were therefore exploited and carried back to Spain. To hasten this process, bars of silver and gold were hacked into chunks of proper weight and struck with heavy hammers between crude, hard-metal dies.
The strike imparted a Spanish pattern, or part of a Spanish pattern, into the coin. The Spanish word cabo English cob refers to the end of the bar.
The size, shape and impression of these cobs was highly irregular. However, they were of proper weight, and that is what mattered to Spanish officials. If a cob was overweight, the minter simply clipped a piece off. Eventually the crude manufacture of cob coins was replaced by more modern minting technology.I listed this coin on eBay yesterday. It was quickly removed and I got a 'restriction' on my account.
The reason was because one of their experts had determined this coin to be counterfeit. I don't know hardly anything about these, but it looks legit to me. The edges of the holes in the 8s and 6 seem too sharp, relative to the other edges on the coin. This would suggest "tooled". Or maybe the dirt which fills them simply has a high contrast. It resembles an 8 reales from Potosi. These should weigh very close to 27 grams.
Spanish Colonial Cobs: Introduction
The circular depression in the first photo is supposed to be a countermark from a different time and country, however since it appears to have the same mushy appearance as the rest of the item, I would guess that this a cast copy.
I was going to ask you all to look at the coin and tell me why but if you don't know what a genuine cob looks like, you wouldn't know. Let's have some fun anyway. If you wish to play You don't need to know anything as this is a TEST of your "eye-for-detail. For example, I see fine scratches and possible file marks. One member saw sharp holes in the numerals. What do you see? It looks crudely made like an actual cob. Weren't the planchets made by cutting the ends of silver bars? Most of the modern replicas look so evidently fake.
MrMonkeySwag96 said: It looks crudely made like an actual cob. Insider2 said: The coin is a very poorly made cast counterfeit. There appears to be a seam on the edge as most cast coins have.
Porosity can indicate casting bubbles, but so many of these are sea salvage I don't think that is indicative by itself. The countermark being as weak as the rest of the coin is also indicative as it is so far recessed it should wear less - see the real one above.
It almost looks like someone retooled the mold to bring out the detail which is why the holes in the 8's are so super-round and the edges of the boxes super square. By the way, for those of you who wrongly insist that eBay doesn't care about fakes: please note the OP's immediate punishment.
Don't understand ebays action for a one time listing when others do it for years. Here is a example.To the right of the shield is denomination II. At this time the mintmark P was also used by the mint in Lima, Peru. However the Lima two reales coins usually have the mintmark to the right of the shield. The two varieties of the Lima two reales with the mintmark to the left have a very different reverse shield border called a tressure that is rather round instead of pointed as is our example see Sellschopp, figures 64 and Unfortunately the coin is holed is the exact spot where the assayer initial would have been located.
According to Thomas Kays holed coins were like modern traveller's checks.
A traveller would sew or pin several of these coins into the lining or inside of their jacket and use them as needed. Note: see the bibliography to the introduction to this section for citations to Sellschopp and Kays. The present weight of the coin is slightly less than the full authorized weight for a two reales, which would be 6. Unfortunately much of the mintmark has been clipped off. Nevertheless, the location can be determined from the reverse cross. Each of the ends of the cross display the fleur-de-lis in the shape of a ball, a style that is unique to the Mexico City mint.
On the obverse to the left of the shield the assayer initial D is visible. This probably refers to the unidentified assayer D who was active between and see Pellicer i Bru, Glosariop. Other Mexican assayers in the years and also used the initial D, but the Hapsburg shield on the obverse of the coin gives further evidence for the earlier assayer. The shield is an early style of the Hapsburg arms exactly as is found on Philip IV coins see Pradeau, plate 3, especially the four reales example shown as item 3.
This would date the coin to the period between and In MarchMr. The assay mark P was used at the Mexico mint frombecause the P mark was used through a 45 year period it has been suggested the mark may have been used by two distinct unknown assayers, Pellicer i Bru, Glosariopp.
Interestingly, the two reales example shown here is quite unusual in that it has been stamped with the mark of assayer P and then overstamped with the mark of assayer D. The obverse mintmark, to the left of the shield is somewhat worn but can be distinguished as M with a superscript o for Mexico City. Directly below the M is a more worn assayer initial most probably an O. According to Pellicer I Bru's, Glosariop. As this coin is a Mexican cob it cannot date to before when the dies used on the cobs first arrived in the New World.
To the right of the shield is the denomination designated by IIII with a superscript o. Note the numeral passes through the beadwork border and almost touches the legend.
The reverse displays the arms of Castilie and Leon with the standard Mexico city mint cross in which each end of the cross displays the fleur-de-lis in the shape of a ball. However, this is not a heavily clipped coin for it weighs close to the full authorized weight of Unfortunately the date is missing but the legend identifies this coin as from Philip IV. The assayer's mark which would be located below the mintmark is completely obscured. Note that the obverse has been double struck.
Doubling can be seen around the 8. More obviously the numeral IIII in the lower obverse legend is stamped over the rim of the shield. Also, the inner bead border is actually within the shield while the outer bead border is almost aligned with the inner bead border near the 8.
Such doubling is common with the hammer strike method employed in producing this coins. Gore, Jr. The denomination, mintmark and assayer as well as the legend is completely obscured. Likewise, on the reverse only the central features of the Castile and Leon shield can be distinguished.Guaranteed Authentic. Ancient Egyptian artifacts. Ancient Jewelry. Ancient Roman Empire. Ancient Greece. Celtic tribes. Byzantine Empire. Ancient Persia. Ancient Gold. Pre-Columbian artifacts. Ancient Armenia.
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Spain, c. Found in Spain. Still worn, but nicer examples with good visible detail. Some with light earthen deposits. Comes with full attribution. Spanish copper reale. Coin with olive-green patina and earthen deposits. Set in custom. Coin with olive-green patina with earthen deposits. Spanish copper "Pirate" money. Philip II, AD. Copper Cornado "cob" struck at Cuenca mint. Olive-green patina, earthen highlights.
Nice detail!A directory of our current inventory is below. This new WordPress website is meant for people coming to Gold Cobs on mobile devices and reproduces much of the content on our older but still current html website www.
From Mexico, a selection of Fleet escudos displaying the novel Altamira reverse designs. Many thanks to those who attended our first conference on the Fleet. Our second conference on the Fleet occurred at St. Augustine on March Video should soon be available. Please join us if you can.
Now available on our sister site, www. Those of you interested in gold and silver cobs recovered from the Fleet might enjoy the cover article we did for the January issue of the Numismatist. Our study of the varieties of the Mexican onza is recently published in the Journal of US Mexican Numismatic Association, where our study of the Mexican gold coinage of the Mexican gold coinage is forthcoming.
If gold cobs, shipwreck or otherwise, are not to your liking, we also offer some fine cob and portrait eight reales. Please visit our Coin pages for articles on several choice mint state, mostly prooflike Mexico and Potosi 8 reales.
The Aymara Hoard pieces are exceptional. We at Gold Cobs want to educate you about the coins that you are interested it. We will show you the best photos our modest photographic skills permit and give you in-depth, comprehensive descriptions of the coins and their history. Take your time and feel free to ask questions. Explore our website. Whether you are an advanced collector hunting rarities, or someone just beginning to plan his collection, there are some things here that we hope will interest you.
Gold Cobs. Gold Cobs tech4help T We are specialists in Peruvian, Mexican, and Colombian gold coins from the Florida shipwrecks of the Fleet. Welcome to Goldcobs. View Our Coins. LIMA As additional silver deposits were discovered in the colonial territories there was a pressing demand to export it to Spain as quickly as possible.
To do this, starting in the reign of Philip II, the mints produced irregular coinage called cobs. Rather than rolling out a bar of silver into a sheet of a specific thickness that could then be cut into smooth round planchets which would be stamped into coins, a faster method was employed. A bar of silver see examples of gold bars in our Spanish gold listings was simply cut into chunks of the appropriate weight.
These small sliver clumps were then treated as if they were finished planchets and were hammer struck between crude dies. In fact, the Spanish word "cabo" from which the English "cob" is derived refers to the end; in this instance, the clump of silver clipped off the end of the bar. The size, shape and impression of these cobs was highly irregular but they were the proper weight.
Many cobs were quite thick and disfigured with large cracks. Also, these uneven clumps made poor planchets so that frequently only a small portion of the image on the die was impressed on the silver.
If a cob was overweight the minter simply clipped a piece off, further disfiguring the coin. During the seventeenth century a few full sized finished coins called "royal or presentation strikes" by present day collectors were also produced but it was only the crude cob that was mass produced.
The intention in minting these crude but accurately weighed cobs was to produce an easily portable product that could be sent to Spain. In Spain the cobs would be melted down to produce silver jewelry, coins, bars and other items.
Currency of Spanish America
Cobs also circulated as coinage, many cobs made their way to the English colonies where they were used both as coins in commerce and hoarded as specie. As the cobs were crudely produced it was quite easy for colonials to clip off some silver and then pass the coin off at full value.
Also, because of their crude design it was easy to make lightweight counterfeit cobs using the clipped silver. Many clipped and lightweight Spanish cobs were melted down in Boston to make the Massachusetts silver coinage. A half real cob was added under Philip IV The obverse of a cob displays the crowned Hapsburg shield with the mintmark and assayer initial to the left and the denomination to the right of the shield. The reverse displays the arms of Castile and Leon within a quatrefoil design.
The arms are similar to those on the Charles and Johanna pre cob silver coins but the two intersecting lines, dividing the shield into quadrants, are emphasized so that they represent a cross in the center of the shield with the castle and lion images in their respective corners.
Starting in the seventeenth century most cobs were dated but this information was added to the obverse legend and was usually not picked up in the stamping of the coin. Dating and locating a cob can be difficult. If an assayer's initials are present and the mint is known then some dating parameters may be determined, as the dates of appointment are available for many assayers.
Also, particular details on the obverse shield differ for each ruler so some examples without other clues can often be dated to a specific king, if the shield is distinct. If the mintmark is missing the reverse cross may assist in identifying the mint. A Jerusalem cross with a ball at each extremity denotes the Mexico mint. A variety of other specific details may assist in making attributions; consultation of regional studies may allow one to narrow the possibilities, especially if a coin can be assigned to a specific time period.
For example, E. Sellschopp has identified the lion and castle punches used on the reverse cross shields of 8 reales from the Lima, La Plata and Potosi mints during the period During the cob period there were several illegal debasements of the coinage, primarily in the Viceroyalty of Peru.My Antique Chopmarked Spanish Silver Coin Collection
At the various Peru mints the position of assayer was annually auctioned to the highest bidder, so the winning appointee tried to get as much profit from the enterprise as possible during their year in office.
Realizing the date alone would not be sufficient to deter corrupt and irregular minting practices, further regulations were instituted requiring each coin to carry the initials of the assayer. These regulations were followed at Mexico but they did not curb the problems in the Peruvian mints. Too many individuals refused to accept these coins, suspecting they were receiving debased products.
Major mints were established in Mexico, Bolivia and Peru to coin the treasure that was being produced by the mines or confiscated from Native Americans and that treasure had to be transported back to Spain.
Unfortunately, weather prognostication at the time was not what it is today and many of the ships carrying coins were sunk when they encountered hurricanes in the Caribbean. Fortunately for us, many of these shipwrecks have been discovered and the cobs and shipwreck coins they produced are now available to collectors. At Black Mountain Coins we feature cobs and shipwreck coins from several of these wrecks.
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