Brazil 1646 3 florins

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image courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
image courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
This gold three florins or three guilders was issued in 1646 by the Dutch occupiers in Brazil. The specimen was lot 23137 in Heritage sale 3012 (New York, January 2011), where it sold for $74,750. The catalog description[1] noted,

"Incredibly Rare Dutch Siege of Brazil Piece. Pernambuco. Geoctroyeede West-Indische Compagnie (GWC) 3 Guilders (Florins) 1646, choice XF, Well-centered with sharp strike on both sides. Most of the pearls visible. The rarest denomination in the series, this 3 Guilders (Florins) has exceptional appeal. Its provenance dates back to Jacques Schulman's auction of November of 1970. One of the great Brazilian/Dutch rarities and a coin with tremendous charisma.

"The Dutch invaded the northeast coast of Brazil in 1630 with the intention of establishing a colonial presence in South America. For the initial 2 years, the Dutch remained cornered in 'Fort Orange' and under constant attack by the Portuguese. The GWC, a company created by the Dutch to 'manage' their operations in Pernambuco, was considering abandoning Brazil all together when in 1632 when the Portuguese commander, Domingos Ferreira Calabar defected from the Portuguese army and joined the Dutch. With Calabar, the Dutch expanded their position north of Pernambuco adding several important towns on their way.

"The Dutch troops consisted mostly of mercenary soldiers [who had] no other purpose for fighting than money. At this time, mostly Hispanic American and Portuguese coins circulated Dutch Brazil. The Dutch brought their own money, the Guilder, which by the mid 1640's was extremely scarce and when the galleon Zeeland ported in the city of Recife, with gold from the Dutch post in Guinee, Africa, the GWC took a 'share' of the precious metal. The company was near a desperate state, constantly cornered and under attack, and used the gold taken from the Zeeland to strike in September of 1645, three denominations; 3, 6 and 12 Guilders. There are no records of the exact numbers of coins that were struck in 1645 but scholars estimate between 1500 and 2000 of each denomination. The important fact is that coins struck in Brazil were not legal tender in Holland and any coins coming back to Europe had to be exchanged for Dutch Guilders (and this is why the Brazilian issue was referred to as the Brazilian Ducat) and subsequently were melted. In the colony, any Portuguese or Brazilian found with a Dutch coin ran the risk of being considered a traitor and hanged. So any coins staying behind in Brazil would have been melted after 1654 after the Dutch were finally ousted from South America. The fact is that very few coins remain of both dates and all three denominations. Our best estimate would be around 50-60 pieces all together and a great number in museum collections. It is a great privilege to offer the complete set of the 1646 Brazilian Ducats."

This type is rare; it is listed in the SCWC without a price.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: gold, this specimen 1.81 grams.

Catalog reference: KM5.3, Fr-3.


  • Krause, Chester L., and Colin R. Bruce II, Standard Catalog of World Coins: Spain, Portugal and the New World, Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2002.
  • Pimentel, Alvaro Mendes, Catálogo de Moedas Brasileiras de 1643 a 1962, 9a Ed., Rio de Janeiro, 1962.
  • Amato, Claudio, Irlei S. Neves and Arnaldo Russo, Livro das Moedas do Brasil, 12a ed. Sao Paulo, 2008.
  • Alberto Gomes and Francisco Antonio Magro, Moedas Portuguesas e do Território Que Hoje é Portugal: Catálogo das Moedas Cunhadas para o Continentes e Ilhas Adjacentes, para os Territórios do Ultramar e Grão-Mestres Portugueses da Ordem de Malta, 6ª Edição, Lisbon: Associação Numismática de Portugal, 2013.
  • [1]Tucker, Warren, and Scott Cordry, Heritage Signature Auction 3012: World Coins, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2010.

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