Gold Cobs from the Florida shipwrecks of the 1715 Fleet & other New World wrecks. Spanish Colonial gold and silver coins from Lima, Mexico, Cuzco, Bogotá, Cartagena, and other mints.





Contact us






  Oro Corriente from the Spanish Conquest of Colombia


C68. Nuevo Reino de Granada (modern Colombia). An early and very rare gold ingot from the first decade (1533-43) of Heredia's conquest of Northen Colombia. A large crowned tax stamp (CA) in the name of Charles I (1516-56) dominates the 12 escudos-size, rectangular planchet. Below the CA an ornate armorial pomegranate signifies the New Kingdom of Granada. SOLD

One of only two Heredia-era ingots in private hands, this the largest (42.1 gm, 25 x 11 mm) and by far the best formed. Cast at an early Caja Real (royal treasury) that did not yet have the assaying and smelting capacities of a Casa de Fundicion, hence the absence of an assay marking.   


In the period of the conquest of Colombia a royal treasurer-inspector (veedor) accompanied every military expedition sent to subdue the indigenous tribes. The same system operated under Cortes in Mexico in the 1520's. The treasurer established a temporary field foundry/treasury where the gold and silver seized was melted into ingots and the royal 20% immediately subtracted by weight. These operations did not have the benefit of skilled assayers, so the metal was not smelted and assayed, but simply cast into ingots with the royal tax stamp declaring that the 20% tax had been paid. Notice the thick casting line running along one side of the line, while the opposite side shows the clean cut of a sharp knife. An ingot of about 80 gm (25 x 22 mm) was prepared by pouring melted Sinu gold artifacts into a crude cermaic mold. Once the gold cooled, the mold was opened and the ingot cut into halves or quarters to be divided among the conquisadotors. These cast bars usually found their way quickly to a Casa de Fundicion, where they were melted and recasted into assayed bars that passed more certainly as currency in pre-coinage commerce. The only Casa de Fundicion in Northern Colombia in this period was at Cartagena (after 1533).

In the early conquest period, two regions in Colombia produced a substantial supply of gold from seized artifacts. Gold seized from the Chibcha around Santa Fe de Bogota fed the Casa Real established there in 1539. No ingots from the Chibcha conquest are known. In Northern Colombia the governor of Cartagena, Pedro de Heredia, extracted a significant amount of gold from the Zenu (Sinu), an indigenious population (known for their goldwork) located southwest of the city he had founded in 1533. Craig in his 2003 monograph of Spanish Colonial ingots (p. 1) mentions a Caja Real Heredia established in the Zenu capital to process all the gold seized from the Zenu. Most of this gold quickly found its way back to the foundry in Cartagena, though some was shipped directly to Spain as oro de guinine.  This ingot, found several years ago on a circa 1540 Caribbean  wreck, was likely headed back to Spain with one of Heredia's lieutenants.


l have written elsewhere on this website (see the Los Mimbres Shipwreck) about the "golden silver" ingots produced when Cortes' soldiers subdued the Michoacan of Central Mexico and seized a large amount of Michoacan artifacts. Ten years later Heredia's soldiers did the same thing when they conquered the Sinu of Northen Colombia. The salient difference is that while Cortes' soldiers carried off Mexican silver, Heredia's troops looted Colombian gold. But for a 1527 Bahamian shipwreck, Cortes' dorada plata would be completely unknown. But for another Caribbean wreck about a decade later, Heredia's Sinu gold ingots would be uncollectible.

This ingot appeared in Treasure Auction 14 (10/30/13, lot 297) where we read "from an unidentified  ca-1570 wreck off the north coast of South America". Apparently a completely serendipitous find of a fisherman working shoals in the eastern end of the Caribbean north of Venezuala. The disorganized wrecksite did not yield information that would be useful in shipwreck ientification, but did suggest a smaller ship lost to fire. The cataloguer's estimate of a 1570's wreck is much too late for several reasons. A few Spanish coins of 1520-1530's peninsular minage were also found on the wrecksite, but none of the prolific issues of Mexico (1535) and Santo Domingo (1542), which are omni-present on Spanish Caribbean wrecks by the mid-1540's. We also know that Heredia's raids on the Sinu were finished by 1542. By 1550 the supply of gold from plunder was exhausted and the Spanish were left to slowly begin exploiting alluvial and mining deposits mostly from the south of the New Kingdom.

SOLD.  or 480-595-1293