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.









          Philip IV
































































 Cartagena Silver Cobs 1621-1635 (revised Jan, 2020)


Silver cobs were first struck at Cartagena very briefly in the fall of 1621, and again, after a four year hiatus, from October 1625 to July 1635, when the mint was closed on orders of Philip IV. Governor Murga also shuttered the mint from July 1629 to July 1630, except for a special "Fleet" mintage in January-February. This was the last NRE coinage, which conveted to CE when the mint re-opened in July. A generation later another brief unauthorized "Fleet" mintage occurred in 1655.

The founder and treasurer of the Cartagena mint throughout the period 1621-35 was a wealthy, ambitious military engineer named Capitan Alonso Turrillo. Turrillo won a 15 year royal patent for a Nuevo Reino mint or mints in 1620 from Philip III (who died in 1621). Though Turrillo returned in 1625 with no authorization to strike silver or gold at Cartagena, the new governor, Diego de Escobar, allowed Turrillo to issue both coinages even after Santa Fe opened in 1627. In the first two months of 1626 Turrillo also struck an unpopular plata baja (25% silver) cuartillo, which was recalled in August.  Philip III decreed in 1620 that the mint mark for the Nuevo Reino would be N and R. In 1621-22 Turrillo's assayer used the initial A. We are not sure who A was. When Turrillo returned from Spain in 1625, he brought with him a new assayer, Juan de la Era (E), who remains the sole assayer through 1635. Issues of October 1625-February 1630 use the NR mint mark in combination the assayer's initial E. In the July of 1630 Cartagena re-opened and began to use the new  C mint mark. Santa Fe continued to use RN.  The rarity of Cartagena silver, especially the four and eight reales, is unappreciated. But for the Atocha (1622) and Concepcion (1641) several dates (like 1621) would not be known to exist. Many dates are represented by only two or three dted coins. All clearly dated Cartagena silver should be considered very rare.


 CS3. Cartagena CE 8 reales. The "with crosses" issue of 1633.  Third known specimen. As discussed here with reference to the  "with crosses" two escudos of 1633, some time in 1633 the Cartagena mint decided to overpunch the small round stops flanking CE with large crosses. Until recently I was not known that the mint did so on silver as well. None of the "with crosses" 8 reales show a clear date, though one recent Cayon specimen has the very bottom of the 33 visible. A single four digit 1633 four reales (offered below) is the only fully dated Cartagena silver coin of 1633.


This Cartagena 8 reales has a distinguished pedigree. Joe Lasser bought it from the one of the Concepcion (1641) salvors in the late 1990's. Though a shipwreck coin, it has no noticeable corrosion and very good weight at 25.85 gms.  It is well centered and sharply struck with nearly full shield and all the key information ( +C+E+   +VIII+) present. Notice in the legends we even have PHILI[PPUS I] III--not seen to my knowleadge on any other Cartagena 8 reales.    



Now available. Please inquire. or 480-595-1293



CS4.  Cartagena CE four reales. Full date 1633 "with crosses". Good centering, full shield, and four well struck lions and castles (very rare on Cartagena silver). A key anchor to the silver "with crosses" issue: the only clearly dated 1633 reales of any denomination. Purchased by Joe Lasser from a salvor of the Concepcion (1641). Some corrosion but good weight at 12.85 gms.



The unique style of the castles on this 4 reales is worth noting. When Mexico City punched holes in their crosses, the series was called the a "Jeweled Cross" escudos. See here. I think Cartagena is every bit as deserving of euphemism, so I'm going to refer to these castles as the "jeweled castles" (not the holed or the Swiss-cheese castles). This again is a unique and definitive feature of 1633 issues. The Cartagena tallador had the nerve to do this only once.



Now available. Please inquire. or 480-595-1293



CS5. Cartagena RNE four reales (16)29. Very rare. The only surviving dated 4 reales of 1629. In fact, one of only two dated 4 reales from the first four years that Cartagena was reopened (1626-29) under new assayer Juan de la Era. The other dated early RNE issue is a 1628/7. Nicely centered, no doubling (that so often disfigures Cartagena silver cobs), four petite lions and castles (struck from 2 reales punches). Another rarity that Joe Lasser obtained from a salvor of the Concepcion (1641). Some corrosion but good weight at 12.83 gms.



Because Capt. Turrillo "lost" the records of the Cartagena mint, we will never know how much silver was coined in what denominations. Four reales (as with four escudos) was always the rarest denomination, because two 4 reales cost more to strike than one 8 reales. The entire series of Cartagena 4 reales, 1626-35, is now represented by less than ten coins. An enlargement of the (16)29 is below.


From other denominations we know that Cartagena used a very distinctive style punch for the digit 2 in the 1620's. The base flares open to the left, creating something that resembles a trumpet. Likewise Cartagena used a "fat" nine, not like anything else seen in any Spanish Colonial mint. Turrillo's Cartagena talladors clearly did their own thing!


Now available.  Please inquire. A second rare Cartagena 4 reales is below.

 terravitan@aolcom or 480-595-1293.



CS7. Santa Fe de Bogota.  RN - (A) eight reales (1622). From the Atocha with Mel Fisher photo-certificate from 1985.  Nicely struck Hapsburg shield with the escutcheon of Portugal superimposed in the upper half. Good weight (26.55 gm) and very little corrosion, a choice example of the first series of Colombian silver coinage.


Notice on the Mel Fisher certificate from 1986 that this 8 reales is attributed to Santa Fe de Bogota. Twenty-six years ago that was a disputable conjecture, but now, thanks to new documents found by the researcher Jorge Proctor, we are more certain of Turrillo's minting activities. A newly discovered letter by Turrillo to the Audiencia of Santa Fe in May of 1622 reports that he had already coined 38 marcos of gold and 1400 marcos of silver in that city. One marcos equals 68 reales. Turrilo had struck a small, perhaps token, silver mintage in Cartagena in the previous fall sometime before he left for Santa Fe. Four coins dated 1621 from one set of dies survive from the 1622 Fleet wrecks. Returning from Santa Fe in July of 1622 and taking ship for Spain, Turrillo had no time to re-establish his Cartagena mint.  With the exception of one small 1621 mintage, then, all of RN A silver coinage (and the SF gold) must therefore be attributed to Santa Fe in the spring of 1622.  It was not until five years later, in April of 1627, that coin production began again in Santa Fe.


Now available. Please inquire. or 480-595-1293



CS8. Cartagena RNE four reales. Very rare early issue, the only known example of a Large Castle (style of 1622) four reales, struck under the new assayer Juan de la Hera as a silver coinage resumed at Cartagena in 1626. Restrepo-Lasser Type M36-2.


When Turrillo's Cartagena mint re-opened, some punches from the 1621-22 SA and RNA series remained serviceable. The style of the early RNE four reales is not quite the same as the SA and RNA issues of 1622 (Restrepo-Lasser Types M33-34). The cross and the surrounding arcs are heavier on the RNE's, for example. But we now know, because of this coin, that the earliest RNE reales re-used the large castle and lion punches of the 1622 SA and RNA issues before switching to small lions and castles. We see small lions and castles on the only two dated RNE issues known-- from 1628/7 and 1629 (see the 1629 above). This four reales is then the sole survivor of the earliest RNE four reales issue, struck before Cartagena converted to small lions and castles by 1627.


Not an ocean coin! Good weight at 13.05 gms. From a Spanish collection and more recently at Heritage (sale 3026, lot 24355) where, unrecognized as a Cartagena rarity and the earliest RNE four reales, it realized a modest $3055.


Now available. Please inquire. or 480-595-1293