NGC Registry Updated NGC Registry

Jack's Colonial Mexico City 8 Reales Type Set

Category: Mexico
Set Type: Mexico City, 1732-1821, 8 Reales Type Set
Owner: jgenn
Last Modified: 11/21/2018
Views: 1402

Rank: 1
Score: 19983
Leading by: 3068
Points to Higher Rank: N/A
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Set Description:

In my opinion, the Spanish Colonial Mexico City Type Set highlights the most interesting period of Spain's coinage. With the introduction of rolling equipment, Castaing machines for coin milling (or a similar parallel edging and upsetting device) and screw presses, the Americas' oldest mint, La Casa de Moneda de México, closed the technological gap and, in 1732, began to issue coins of equal quality to those of the European mints.

Prior to the new methods, a narrow stream of molten silver was poured onto a flat surface, and after the "strap" shaped metal had cooled, it was bisected several times yielding eight pieces of roughly similar weight and equally rough shapes*. After being placed between a die anvil and trussel to have their design manually hammered on, the result was the macuquina or cob coin. One major problem with this process was that the thickness of each planchet varied and the hammer struck design was impressed unevenly resulting in poorly discernible details and rendering the design vulernable to counterfeiting.

The new process, however, used rolling mills to produce strips of metal of even thickness that could be stamped into round blanks of consistent weight. Coupled with the parallel edge die and screw press, the new issues had consistent, high quality impressions that were much more difficult to counterfeit. Although the first of these new coins were issued in 1732, the more complicated process took some time to ramp up to full production volume. Thus, a transitional variety was also struck from 1733-1734, that borrowed from both the old and new techniques, called "recortadas" meaning trimmed in Spanish, but have also been given the nickname "klippe", like the emergency coinage struck during sieges. Struck by screw press on cob blanks, they bear a variation of the cross and shield design of the cobs from Mexico City. Elizondo and Gilboy excluded these strikes from their catalogs. I find them fascinating and am delighted to include my best example in this set.

With the exception of the klippe type, the colonial 8 reales milled coinage series can be divided into the earlier "pillar" and later "portrait" types. The obverse of the earlier style features a variant of the crowned shield design that had been standard on Spanish coinage, showing the abbreviated coat of arms of the Spanish Monarch (quartered arms of Castille and León, arms of Granada at the bottom point, superimposed with the arms of Anjou denoting the House of Bourbon). The reverse shows a design that was reserved for colonial coinage, featuring two columns, representing the Pillars of Hercules, wrapped with the national motto of Spain "PLUS ULTRA" (further beyond), framing two globes, representing the old and new worlds, floating on the waters between them, surmounted by the Spanish crown. This style would remain essentially the same through 1771 with the exception of a change in 1754 which replaced the Spanish crown, on top of the left pillar, with the Imperial crown. Pillar issues have a reduced silver content of 0.917 fineness from the previous 0.931.

In 1772 the coinage was changed again, both in silver content and design. Now reduced to 0.903 fineness, the obverse design shows the bust of the monarch and the reverse shows a new variant of the crowned shield design with the addition of pillars to the right and left. Two transitional types occur in the portrait series due to the delay in creating and shipping the new portraits to the American mints as the monarchs changed.

The end of this series coincides with the collapse of the Spanish Empire and the struggle for an independent Mexico. Napoleon forced the abdication of the Spanish monarchy in 1808. The insurgencies in Mexico, that started shortly thereafter, prevented much of the silver production from reaching the Mexico City mint resulting in the provincial mints issuing locally produced coins. Although Fernando regained the throne in 1813, the revolutionary spirit of the Americas would prevail and most of Spain's colonies would become their own nations by 1825.


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