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







Mexico 8 escudos


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Charles II (1667-1700)








                     Mexico Two & Four Escudos from the 1715 Fleet

                               (Scroll down for a brief history of Mexican Gold Cobs, 1679-1732)


M36.  Mexico MXo, Jeweled Cross 2 escudos, circa 1690. Reign of Carlos II.

           Rare and high grade, the finest Jeweled Cross 2 escudos NGC has seen.

           NGC "AU 58 1715 Plate Fleet." With hand signed Mel Fisher

           certificate from 1972. SOLD




     The Jeweled Cross design--see below--was the first design used on Mexican gold cobs. It lasted from 1679, when Mexico City began to strike gold, until 1698 on the two escudos, though it was replaced earlier (1695) on the 8 escudos. Dated jeweled cross two escudos are so rare that we must use stylistic grounds to locate issues within the 1679-1698 range. By the size and number of "jewels" on the cross, and by other criteria, we can reasonably date this issue to about 1690.

      How this coin still in near mint condition happened to be the 1715 Fleet 25 years later is something to puzzle over. A handful of Carlos II gold cobs were found by Real 8 on a small area of Douglas Beach, the Nieves site. Very likely this group was the personal property of wealthy Spaniard returning to Spain after years in Nuevo Espana. The 1715 Fleet would prove to be a bad choice for that voyage.

      This is one of the finest known Jeweled Cross two escudos. It has lustrous, near mint surfaces, and beautifully centered full shield and cross. The strike is also exceptional: Carlos II gold cobs often have poor centering and flat spots. If you want a type coin to illustrate the Hapsburg shield and Jeweled Cross of the first  gold issue of Mexico, this example is unimprovable.








D or 480-595-1293





M51. Mexico, 1714 Mo J four escudos.  A very lustrous, boldly struck, mint state media onza that looks like it came from Mexico City last week. MS62 from NGC but surely a higher grade. The cross and tressure side is as nice as you will ever see on a 1714-15 Mexico escudos. The date is weak but readable enough for NGC. From the 1715 Plate Fleet with a 1974 Moe Molinar certificate.



                      The exceptional cross and tressure are pictured below.




       The late Moe Molinar, working as a private contractor with John DeBray's company HRD, found this 1714 Mexico 4 escudos on Douglas Beach in the summer of 1974. Moe and John signed the HRD cert shown below.




       Available. Price on request. or 480-595-1293




M55. Mexico, (1714) Mo J one escudo from the 1715 Fleet. NGC "1715 Plate MS 64".

           Nicely centered and boldly struck. A little gem from the Fleet.

           (the coin on the right 007 is now sold, 003 is available. Inquire.)










The mint at Mexico City issued gold bars and carefully adjusted escudo-equivalent gold ingots from at least 1537--see our Special Page for early Mexican gold ingots-- but was not permitted an official gold coinage until 1679. Thereafter it struck gold cobs annually, but usually in small numbers,  until 1732. In that period three Spanish monarchs sat on the throne. The unfortunate Carlos II reigned until 1700, to be succeeded by the first Bourbon monarch Felipe V, whose reign was interrupted for seven moths in 1724 by the accession and death of his son Luis I.

The 37 year period from 1679 to 1715 is generally known as the “Fleet era.” Approximately 98% of the surviving Mexican gold cobs fall into this period and trace their survival to the Florida wrecks of the 1715 Fleet. In fact, more than 94% of surviving Mexican gold fall into the five year period 1711-15.

The first 16 years (1679-1694) of gold production at Mexico City is attested by a mere handful of dated coins. Even undated specimens are rare. Assayer Lopez (L) struck one, two, four and eight escudos, the larger denominations showing the final version of the Hapsburg shield with a stylized crown and on the reverse an attractive jeweled cross. In 1695 the jeweled cross reverse was replaced with a “box cross”, a design which lasted on the onza until 1710.

Dated Fleet era onzas, 1695-1710, remain rarities. Only the last date, 1710, is represented by more than 2 coins. In fact, there are three 1710 onzas extant! In 1705 assayer Lopez was succeeded by assayer Jose Eustaquio de Leon (J), who remained in office until 1723. At first assayer J preserved the traditional types, but by 1711 he had begun to experiment with new obverses and reverses. After a year (1713) that featured some of the worst dies and gold planchets ever produced at Mexico City, dies apparently became machine-produced and planchets expertly cast or cut in a fashion that did not require faceting. See the beautiful round 1715 onza on our Home Page. After 1715 all Mexican gold cobs again become rarities in all denominations, with most dates unknown and many dates represented by only one or two specimens.

1714 is by far the most common Mexican escudos. Hundreds of nice one, two and eight escudos survive from the Fleet. Five varieties of the 1714 onza exist and are eagerly pursued by collectors.








From the 1715 Plate Fleet


1708 Mexico Eight Escudos.  Very rare: one of two dated specimens known

Two 1708 Mexican onzas are known, both recovered by Real 8 from the Nieves site. Somehow neither was absorbed into the Florida State Collection at Division. The companion to this coin--same dies--is pictured in Calico's LA ONZA as coin #381. Prior to recovery of these two Fleet coins, Chavez-Lopez believed he had located a unique specimen of the 1708 onza, and so described it in his 1962 CATALOGO of the onzas. Unfortunately, that coin does not have a readable final digit and is now re-assigned by Calico to 1706. In fact, it is partial date 170(x) with 6 through 9 possible as the final digit. Its dies do not match those on the dated 1708's.

This 1708 onza has the slight reddish tint so often found on 1713 Mexican escudos. It was found in the same area of Colored Beach as the 1713's. I have suggested elsewhere that this reddish tint is typical of gold coins that have spent a long time in contact with saturated organic material. The 1713's and 1708's were probably in a leather pouch when the Nieves sank. This 1708 onza also shows marine deposits and whitish coral, especially on the cross side. It is full weight at 27.0 grams.

Besides being one of only two 1708 Mexican onzas--the other 1708 is impounded in a major private collection from which it will not emerge for many years--this is one of less than a dozen dated BOX CROSS onzas known for the entire 1698-1710 type period. By any measure it a major rarity and an amazing survivor from the exiguous early gold coinage of the Mexico City mint.






From the 1715 Plate Fleet


Mexico. Reign of Charles II (1665-1700).  Jeweled Cross four escudos, circa 1690. Very Rare.


The first gold issues of the mint at Mexico City featured the distinctive designs you see on this four escudos. The most striking design feature is the ornate jeweled cross. On the 4 escudos, this design continued until 1699, with at least three significant sub-varieties. No one has yet made a study of jeweled cross Mexican escudos, due to the rarity of the type in all denominations, but I am attempting to do so.


This is a middle-style issue, 1688-1694, identified by various distinctive features of the cross, shield and crown. Prior to the salvages from the 1715 Fleet, the entire population of jeweled cross media onzas  (1680-1699) was represented by no more than a half dozen or so coins. See the Lopez-Chavez 1961 monograph on the media onza. I believe the 1715 Fleet has added about another half dozen coins to the population, including this exceptional piece.


This jeweled cross 4 escudos  has very light sea surfaces and marine deposits/coral, especially in the lower area of the shield. It has good weight at 13.41 gms and a large, rounded planchet. If you would like a jeweled cross Mexican 4 escudos from the 1715 Fleet, this is a chance that may not be repeated for many years.



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