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.

 

 

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L58.  Lima 1716 M Four Escudos. Unique.

        The only surviving example in 4 escudos of the "Tearful Cross"

         type of 1716-17.

         Lustrous, sharply struck, and choice mint state (undergraded

         by NGC as MS 61).

 

 

    On-going research is beginning to solve the mystery of Lima's 1716-1717 gold coinage.  Spanish Colonial mints did not lightly or capriciously re-design their coinage. This was the prerogative of El Rey, and woe to any viceroy who without authorization fooled with the long-accepted designs of the gold coinage. The one acknowledged exception was a brief memorial issue that only slightly modified the basic design. In 1746 the new Lima viceroy Velasco ordered many small stars added to the 4 and 8 escudos dies. Likely this was in memory of the beloved Felipe V, who died in July after ruling for more than 45 years. Stars were a traditional motif on Roman gold when the name or image of a deceased emperor was displayed (see the 'divus' issues of Julius Caesar). Alternatively, or perhaps as well, the 1746  con estrallas issues also remembered the victims of the Great Earthquake (and tsunami) of 1746 that totally destroyed Callao and wrecked much of Lima with great loss of life. The star motif would promise a "new Lima" would arise from the ashes of the old.  gone!

   

    The iconography that drives the view that the issue of 1716-17 is a memorial  coinage is the tears (or possibly drops of blood) emerging from the cross at 12 places. These are not decorative dots, but carefully formed tears or drops of blood emerging from the cross. A tearful or bleeding cross is a traditional Spanish motif of mourning and remembrance.  Tears or drops of blood also appear in the legends (see above the left pillar).

      No change in the weight or fineness of the coinage occurred in 1716. No monarch died in 1715-16. No natural disasters like the Great Earthquake of 1746 befell Lima in the years immediately preceding 1716.  No serious outbreak of the plague or other depopulating epidemics are known to have afflicted Lima in 1714-16 (though plague was known in Lima in this period).  What tragedy, then,  with serious loss of life could the 1716-17 coinage of Lima be remembering? What persuaded Felipe V (or possibly the viceroy) to order a brief modification in the gold coinage? The only tragedy known to the historical record that fits this time frame is the loss the 1715 Plate Fleet the previous year. The loss of this Treasure Fleet was a personal and financial disaster for both Felipe V and El Peru. Prominent Spaniards from El Peru and other colonies went down with the Fleet, and the gold & silver lost dealt a serious blow to Felipe V's fragile empire (just beginning to recover from the War of Succession) Felipe V could well have a memorial for the people and wealth lost. No archival evidence yet confirms this but no better explanation for a memorial issue of 1716-17 suggests itself.

       Lima 8 and 4 escudos of 1716-17 need to be the subject of a monograph if enough specimens can be assembled for study.  Some features, like the radiant 4-pointed star just above the denomination, became permanent on Lima gold, but most of the memorial innovations disappear in 1717. The  tear drops at the termini of the cross and tear drops in the pillar side legend disappear forever. 

 

 

Available. Price on request.

 

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