Admiral Cloudesley Shovell
M10. Nueva Espana, Mexico City mint, 1701 Mo L eight reales, recovered from the wreck of HMS Association (Oct. 1707), part of the treasure seized five years before from 1702 Spanish Treasure Fleet at Vigo Bay.
(An 18th century engraving of the loss of HMS Association is below.)
Though Carlos II had died in October of 1700, Mexico City continued to mint in his name in 1701. Notice the Hapsburg crown and shield of Carlos II. 1701 is a rare date for Mexican 8 reales. This huge (60 mm diagonal) planchet is full weight (26.87 gm) and shows no evidence of circulation. Curious animal-shaped planchet. Recovered from the tragic wreck of Admiral Shovell's flagship HMS Association and almost certainly from the vast treasure of newly minted Mexican silver seized from the 1702 Spanish Fleet. Admiral Shovell was put in charge of transporting the treasure from Vigo Bay to London. From the W. Lane's November 1979 Sale of HMS Association treasure (lot 134) with original certificate of provenance (see below).
The loss of Admiral Shovell's flagship and three other warships occurred five years to the day after the English had attacked the 1702 Spanish Treasure in Vigo Bay. More Englishmen died on the evening of October 22, 1707 than in the naval and land battle of Vigo Bay. Admiral Shovell and everyone on board the Association perished. More than 2000 men died when a navigation error took Shovell's fleet straight onto Outer Gilstone Rock off the Scilly Islands. HMS Association sank in 4 minutes.
Several uncirculated 1701 Mexican reales are reported from the Association, but this is the first we have seen. The 56 ship Spanish-French Fleet of 1702, commanded by Manuel de Velasco, left Vera Cruz in June of 1702. A large part of its 13 million pesos treasure was newly minted Mexican gold and silver. The English waited off Cadiz to intercept the Fleet. The Fleet diverted to Vigo in NW Spain, but were found by the English and attacked. The Spanish and French Fleets were annihilated, except for 10 ships captured as prizes. Much of the Spanish treasure had been offloaded, but tons of silver remained on the vessels the English seized. Shovell's squadron was chosen to take the treasure and prizes back to London, where the Master of the Mint, Isaac Newton, logged in over 4500 pounds of silver (used to strike the English Vigo coinage of 1703). An unknown but perhaps a substantial amount of the captured treasure managed to remain with the officers and men on Shovell's ships. Below is a contemporary oil of the crucial moment in the Battle of Vigo Bay when the English forced the boom protecting the Spanish Treasure Fleet.
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From the 1715 Plate Fleet
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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