“Shield” Spanish Colonial Silver Reales

Posted by on September 11, 2012
Shield Potosi T Silver Cob 8 Reales - reverse

Shield Potosi T Silver Cob 8 Reales - reverse

King Philip II had been given the thrown of Spain by his Father Charles V Empire of the Holy Roman Empire in 1556 and during 1572 he had the silver coins being minted in the Spanish colonies in the Americas redesigned.  The second type is called a “Shield” real and was minted from 1572 to 1734 in Mexico City, Lima, Santo Domingo, Santa Fe de Bogota (Columbia), Cartagena (Columbia), La Plata (Bolivia), Panama City (Panama), and Potosi (Bolivia).

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Shield Potosi T Silver Cob 8 Reales - obverse

Shield Potosi T Silver Cob 8 Reales - obverse

The obverse has the “shield” which is outlined as a traditional eight pedal rose and quartered with a cross the quadrants rotate between having a tower or lion inside commemorating the seal of Charles V.  This design helps as a guide if the eight real needed to be divided and can easily yield eight proportional pieces; i.e. ‘pieces of eight’.  The reverse has the new coat of arms; a full Habsburg of King Philip II’s many new lands had been added by the time of his inheritance.

King Philip II’s intolerance to the Reformation movement in Europe led to a dependence on the precious metals being mined in the New World.  This eventually lead to inflation, first in Spain and then throughout Europe.

1593 Silver Cob 2 Reales - obverse

1593 Silver Cob 2 Reales - obverse

Mexico City, Mexico was the first mint to start adding the date to the silver shield coins in 1607 and the other mints eventually did also.

Lima, Peru’s mint started striking these shield sliver reales in 1572 and then closed.  In 1577 it was re-opened and continues minting the shield silver coins until 1588 when the mint was closed again.  The miners did not like the location of this mint.

Santo Domingo minted the shield type reales from 1573 to 1578 when it was closed and never opened again.  All of these shield silver coins are considered to be very rare.

1593 Silver Cob 2 Reales - reverse

1593 Silver Cob 2 Reales - reverse

Santa Fe de Bogota (Nuevo Reino), Columbia mint was not opened until 1622 by King Philip III’s command and struck the shield silver reales with dates until 1651.  All of these are considered to be rare.  There are number of mint marks used while this mint was in operation including: S, F, N, NR in various arrangements with or with an ornamental “o”, and SF in various arrangements.

Shield Potosi P Silver Cob 2 Real - obverse

Shield Potosi P Silver Cob 2 Real - obverse

Cartagena, Columbia mint was opened in 1622 by King Philip III’s order and produced shield silver reales until 1635 all of which are rare.  The variety of mint marks include S, C, RN vertically positioned and NR positioned vertically.  Columbia was called “Nuevo Reino de la Granada” or “Nueva Granada” by the Spanish.

La Plata, Argentina mint was opened for less than a year in the fall and winter of 1573 to 1574 and only struck shield silver reales with the mint mark “P”.  These are identical to those struck in Potosi’s early years.

Shield Potosi P Silver Cob 2 Real - reverse

Shield Potosi P Silver Cob 2 Real - reverse

Panama City, Panama mint was opened in 1580 and closed in 1582 and used “AP” as its mint mark.  All of these are considered to be very rare.

Potosi, Bolivia mint was opened when an accidental silver strike uncovered a vast quantity of silver in 1545.  The mint started production 1574 and continued striking shield silver reales through 1652.  The first dated coins from Potsi were minted in 1617.  It’s first mint mark was “P” and latter it was changed to what many perceive to be the inspiration for today’s dollar sign “$”.  The four letters “PTSI” are all superimposed onto each other forming Potosi’s distinct mint mark.

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