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.





Lima 1750 8 escudos


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Fernando VI, the Spanish monarch who ended the

cob coinage at Lima.


  Morales' Redesign of the Lima Gold Cob Coinage (1749-1750)


L104. Viceroyalty of El Peru, LIMA 1749 R  8 escudos. 

The cross side shows a partially obscured, hand-engraved mint mark of assayer Vargas (V) to the left and at the base a date of (1)748. Different dates and assayers! The pillar side has a hand-engraved final digit (9), replacing an erased 8.  Avery rare and curious variety. NGC "Ornate 9 XF 45".


In May of 1748 a new superintendent of mint, Andres de Morales, arrived in Lima and took charge of a mint still in ruins after the earthquake of October, 1746. Besides rebuilding the facility, Morales had two other urgent pieces of business. Fernando had ordered Morales to convert Lima from a cob to a milled coinage as quickly as humanly possible. Fernando's father, Philip V, had ordered the colonial mints to convert to milled coinage in 1728. Twenty years later Lima was still striking cobs. Morales was also ordered to immediately address of a quality problem with the Lima's often illegible cob coinage. Since at least 1742 the Royal Board of Coinage and Commerce had been highly critical of Lima's cob coinage. A report that arrived at the same time as Morales threatened to fine and dismiss mint officials because of the abysmal quality of Lima cobs.      



Morales had special powers and the full support of the new viceroy, Manso de Velasco (a hero of the 1746 disaster). Changing the designs of the coinage was a strictly held prerogative of the monarch, but in 1748 Morales and the viceroy decided that the only practical way to quickly address the complaints of the Board of Coinage was to change the design of the cross side, duplicating on that side assayer, date, mint, and denomination. The Royal Board of Coinage had complained that on Lima onzas, because of frequent mis-strikes and heavy doubling,  there was often no legible assayer or date. Sometimes nothing on the pillar side was legible.  Morales' solution, probably the best he could do working from a ruined mint,  was to duplicate this information to the cross side, which was less subject to doubling. At first Morales simply ordered his Mexican tallador (die cutter) to add this information to the cross side, with no directions as to how to accommodate this in the current design. The tallador tried to follow the example of the 8 reales, placing the letters and digits just outside the crossbars, but he had no proper punches and had to hand-engrave the letters and digits. Plus there was no room on the die between crossbars and legends. The result was horrific looking. When Morales and Manso saw the dies, they were put aside as unusable. Several months later, facing a large gold coinage in 1749 and needing dies, the dies were brought out and recut, with a dotted inner border and legends overstriking the old date(748) and the retired assayer (V). See the date enlargement below.    



This coin represents the first step in Morales' attempt to redesign the Lima gold coinage in 1748-50. Three examples are known. Ultimately no successful redesign was achieved in 1748-49. Only in 1750 did the Lima tallador figure out how to accommodate date and assayer and mint mark in the cross design. See here for the 1750 story. A close-up of the overstruck date is below.



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