World and Ancient Coins
ASI has created the World and Ancients Program to showcase foreign minted numismatic coins that we believe demonstrate real collectible value to our clients. Because these coins were not minted in the U.S., we do not consider them to be a part of our Spotlight Program, however, we wanted to find a way to highlight ancient and foreign-minted coins that we believed would also be of interest to our clients.
To see past World and Ancients offers, click here.
September World Coin
These Rare Spanish Colonial Coins Are a Spectacular and Scarce Find
By Patrick Richey
Did you know that much of daily commerce in the early United States was conducted in Spanish colonial coins?
After Christopher Columbus’ expedition of 1492 and during the earliest years of European (mostly Spanish) expansion onto the American continents, the search for precious metals was the main driving factor in the exploration and colonization of these vast new lands. The discovery of new reserves in the Americas brought world gold production to previously unknown heights and forever changed the global economic and political landscape as we know it.
The New World coinage produced by Spain comprises one of the most globally collected and liquid series in numismatics because it circulated worldwide and was legal tender in the United States until 1857.
In 1732, Spanish Colonial mints began striking milled (machine-made) coinage that was issued to strict quality standards (detailed in the Seville coinage act of 1728). These coins were struck to replace the crude cob design that was irregular and unsightly, and quickly gained universal acceptance for their quality.
As the most important mint of the Western world, the Mexico City mint was the first to implement the series that lasted until 1821, when Mexico achieved independence under emperor Augustin Iturbide. Before long, several mints in Central and South America began striking coins in various gold and silver denominations.
Each country had its own challenges in setting up stable minting facilities and securing access to gold and silver, and we must also note that the dies and designs for these coins were produced in Spain and shipped to New World. These unique challenges resulted in a fascinating and varied series with rarities and key dates much like U.S. coinage, often with a modest price tag!
These beautiful coins all depict the bust of the reigning Spanish king on the obverse and are the largest denomination of Spanish coins. The famed "Pieces of Eight" or "Doubloons" are also commonly referred to as “bust Colonial 8 Escudos” or “bust Colonial 8 Reales.”
As with many categories of numismatics, most of the finest world coins have been submitted to either NGC or PCGS for third-party certification, and even a quick glance at NGC census figures illuminates the scarcity of this Spanish colonial series. For example, NGC has only certified 2,199 for entire series of Colonial Gold 8 Escudos of Mexico, which was one of the most prolific producers of the series!
About the Gold 8 Escudo
27 grams of big, bold gold struck from 1732 until 1821
These coins were struck under five Spanish kings: Phillip V (1732-1746), Ferdinand VI (1746-1759), Charles III (1760-1788), Charles IV (1789-1808), and Ferdinand VII (1808-1824). These were primarily struck in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, as well as mainland Spain.
The obverse of the 8 Escudo features the bust of the reigning Spanish king with a circular inscription that includes the King’s name and a legend that translates to: “by the Grace of God King of Spain and the Indies.” The reverse features the crowned coat of arms of Castille and Leon representing the Bourbon dynasty with one of two circular inscriptions: “I follow the great names” on coins pre-1746, or “With happiness under the look of God” for coins struck between 1746 and 1822, with assayer initial, mintmark, and denomination.
About the Silver 8 Reales
27 grams of silver, this “bust” style was struck from 1772 until 1821
Before the historic Morgan Silver Dollar existed, these "Pieces of Eight" are commonly regarded as America’s first silver dollars. For a while, the United States adopted the silver Spanish milled dollar as our monetary unit of value on the recommendation of Thomas Jefferson.
The obverse of the 8 Reales features the bust of the reigning Spanish king with a circular inscription that includes the King’s name and a legend that translates to: “by the Grace of God” The Reverse features the legend “King of Spain and the Indies” followed by the mintmark, denomination, and assayer initials. The reverse design combines the crown and shield with the pillars that symbolize the unification of the Old and New Worlds.
How to Collect
A basic type set consists of only five coins; one for each Spanish king. One could also collect by date or by incorporating mintmarks from the nine different mints: Mexico City and Guadalajara (Mexico), Guatemala, Lima and Cuzco (Peru), Nuevo Reino (Colombia), Popayan (Colombia), Potosi (Bolivia) and Santiago (Chile).
Our specialists at ASI are on hand to assist you in assembling a representative type set that fits your goals.
Diversification can add real strategic value to a portfolio, and in today’s rare coin market, world coins are doing just that. While the category of world coins includes a vast time period and array of countries and types, Spanish colonial coinage in particular offers tremendous value in terms of rarity, condition, and collectability. All coins in this group have tremendously compelling census data. In fact, most of the gold coins have fewer than 50 examples graded by NGC, and the largest population among the silver offering is only 209 total pieces by NGC.
As with our Spotlight Program, the process of finding, selecting, and obtaining coins for this program takes months of work and effort before an offer is released to you. We have assembled a small, varied group of twelve gold 8 Escudos, and nine silver 8 Reales.
Each coin is from a unique population, so you'll have the opportunity to jump-start your Spanish colonial collection whether by type, date, or mint. All coins come slabbed and graded.
Special offer: Buy a piece of gold and silver to receive 5% off each!
This small, exclusive offering will not last long, and we encourage you to take a serious look at any coins that catch your eye, as they are unique and may go quickly. Call us at 800-831-0007 or email at email@example.com.
Please feel free to call or email us for images of specific coins, census data, and exact pricing from the list below. Our trained staff will be on hand to help guide your selection!
Gold 8 Escudos
- Chile 8 Escudos 1752 graded NGC MS60
Note: Early Date, only 6 total known
- Chile 8 Escudos 1776 graded NGC AU50
Note: 1776 (U.S. Independence) is a popular date!
- Chile 8 Escudos 1788 graded NGC AU55
- Chile 8 Escudos 1808 graded NGC AU55
Note: Armored Bust type
- Chile 8 Escudos 1817 graded NGC MS62
- Peru 8 Escudos 1789 graded NGC AU55
Note: Rarer of the two types produced in 1789
- Mexico 8 Escudos 1778 graded NGC AU58
Note: tough to find early date
- Mexico 8 Escudos 1789 graded NGC AU58
Note: transitional type
- Mexico 8 Escudos 1792 graded NGC MS63+
Note: Finest grade known of this type!
- Mexico 8 Escudos 1809 graded NGC MS61
- Mexico 8 Escudos 1815 graded NGC AU55
- Spain 8 Escudos 1772 graded NGC MS62+
Note: Finest grade known of this type!
Silver 8 Reales
- Mexico 8 Reales 1788 graded NGC MS62
- Mexico 8 Reales 1802 graded NGC MS62
- Mexico 8 Reales 1808 graded NGC MS62
Note: Charles III bust
- Mexico 8 Reales 1809 graded NGC MS62
- Mexico 8 Reales 1809 graded NGC MS64
- Mexico 8 Reales 1809 graded PGCS MS64
Note: Tied for top population at PCGS
- Mexico 8 Reales 1818 graded NGC MS61
- Mexico 8 Reales 1819 graded NGC MS62
- Guatemala 8 Reales graded MS63+
Note: Finest grade known for this type!