“Pillars and Waves” Spanish Colonial Silver Reales

Posted by on September 10, 2012
1672 Potosi Silver Cob 8 Reales

1672 Potosi Silver Cob 8 Reales

The “Pillars and Waves” Spanish Colonial Silver Reales were the last design to be hammer struck.  “Pillars with Waves” were minted from 1651 to 1773 and their obverse design is very similar to the “Pillars” however the ocean is replaced with pronounced waves.  There are also parallel lines above and below the motto allowing the mint mark and assayer’s mark to be placed on the obverse.  However the coins minted in Colombia and the early dates from Potosi lacked the horizontal line as well as Lima’s 1659 and 1670 silver reales.

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The reverse is a simpler version of Charles V’s seal, but in a circle with a cross defining each quarter.  The Colombian silver reales as well as Potosi’s early dates have a shield design as opposed to the cross similar to the “Pillars” series.  The date is on all of these and can be found on the reverse.  These were struck in Bogota, Cartagena, Lima, and Potosi.  There are a few different variations with the placement of the dates on this design depending on the mint and year the coin was struck.

Pillars and Waves Potolsi E Silver Cob 2 Real

Pillars and Waves Potolsi E Silver Cob2 Real

Bogota’s mint had already been putting dates on their coins when they started striking these in 1651 through 1748.  All of these coins are rare.

As a matter of fact the silver coin production in Colombia was very low and secondary to their gold production.  The silver the Colombian mints used was from the gold ore that it was processing.  The refining technology that was being utilized was insufficient to render all of the gold from the silver thus Colombian silver cob coins have gold in them. The technology for reclaiming this gold was available in Europe and a lot of Colombia’s silver cob reales were exported to Europe and further refined there allowing a profit to be made from the reclaimed gold.

Cartagena’s mint only struck these silver cob reales from 1653 through 1655.  They are all dated and all of them are rare.  The Cartagena’s mint operated as an auxiliary mint for the Bogota mint and it was close permanently in 1655.

1716 Pillars and Waves Y Silver Cob 2 Reals

1716 Pillars and Waves Y Silver Cob 2 Reals

Lima’s mint struck these silver cob coins first in 1659 and 1660, then again in 1684 to 1752.  The 1659 were the first silver reales that the Lima mint struck with dates on them.

Potosi’s mint struck these silver cob reales from 1574 through 1652.  1617 is the first year the Potosi mint put dates on their silver coins.  This is the one type of silver reales design that the Mexico City mint did not strike.

An interesting note would be that even though machines were being introduced to the Spanish colonies and installed in their mints in the early part of the 1700’ when the mint in Guatemala was being built when the Guatemala mint was opened in 1733 they were hand hammering their coins.  However the Guatemala mint was hand cutting their planchets from rolled sheets, much like the milled coins to come, the hand hammering produced irregular shapes like the cob reales.  From 1733 to 1753 the silver reales coming out of this mint were of the “Pillar” type.  Guatemala used “G” or “NG” as their mint mark.

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