Brazil 1749 4000 reis

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Eliasberg lot 1157
Brazil 1749 4000 reis rev Eliasberg 1157.jpg
This specimen was lot 1157 in the Eliasberg sale, where it sold for $920. The catalog description[1] noted,
"1749 4,000 reis. Struck at Lisbon for Maranhao. EF-40 (NGC). Crowned arms, legends and denomination around/plain cross in quadralobe within circle, legends and date around. Medium gold with deeper highlights. Good even color and pleasant eye appeal. A scarce one year type, coined in Portugal for use in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhao. A three coin set of 1749 issues for Maranhao -- 4,000 reis, 2,000 reis, and 1,000 reis -- was sold in the 1935 Newcomer sale as lot 64, described as 'very fine and scarce.' While unplated, it is possible that the three pieces included in the Eliasberg collection are in fact this lot. From the John H. Clapp Collection; Clapp estate to Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., 1942."

This type struck at Lisbon for Brazil this year only. It is the first year of the new standard; earlier 4000 réis weighed 10.75 g.

The gold coinage of Brazil presents problems which have not been resolved to this author's satisfaction. The early series of "moedas provinciales" (1000, 2000 and 4000 réis struck 1714-27) were struck to the standard of 12,600 réis/troy oz. The later series of "moedas provinciales" (1000, 2000 and 4000 réis struck 1749-1822) were struck to the standard of 16,800 réis/troy oz, which seems a straightforward reduction of 25% of the value of the gold réis. However, simultaneous with the "moedas provinciales" were struck the "moedas luso-brasileiras" (800, 1600, 3200, 6400 and 12800 réis struck 1727-1822) to the standard of 15,120 réis/troy oz. This standard values the gold réis 20% lower than the 1714-27 standard and matched the standard used in Portugal itself (see the 4 escudos or peça, struck in Portugal 1722-1835, which matches the 6400 réis of Brazil). How did merchants of the time cope with multiple weight standards for the same currency?

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 8.07 g, .917 fine gold, .238 troy oz; this specimen: 8.07 grams, 28.00 mm diameter.

Catalog reference: KM 164, Fr-62.


  • [1]Kraljevich, John, John Pack, Elizabeth O. Piper and Frank Van Valen, The Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., Collection of World Gold Coins and Medals, Wolfboro, NH: American Numismatic Rarities, 2005.
  • Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 7th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 2003.
  • 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.

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