Colombia (1655)-C S 4 reales

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Heritage sale 3032, lot 24484
image courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
This specimen was lot 24484 in Heritage sale 3032 (Chicago, April 2014), where it sold for $7,343.75. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Philip IV cob 4 Reales 1655 C-S, Cartagena mint, Choice VF. Perhaps land buried at some point (definitely NOT sea-salvaged) since minimal incrustations appear in the lower part of the shield, but original surfaces and practically full weight at 13.24 grams. The coin has an overall very attractive appearance with the pillar side being particularly nice. It shows a ninety-degree reverse die orientation, similarly to the companion 8 Reales 1655 housed in the Florida collection. After having its mint closed by the crown in 1635, the Cartagena province suffered from the lack of circulating coinage. This state of affairs worsened after the Potosi mint scandal of 1649-1650. Since the mint's equipment was still available, the local Cartagena authorities decided to resume the mint's operations in 1655 although the corresponding permission had been denied several times by the crown despite numerous requests. The history of that illegal (since not authorized by the crown, and similar in status to the Lima mint of 1659-1660 which produced the Star of Lima pieces) operation of the mint of Cartagena was documented by Proctor and Blanton (see for example their article The Illegal Mint of Cartagena, 1655 in NI Bulletin January/February 2012). We thus know that it only lasted for a few months beginning on 21 June 1655, which in turn accounts for the rarity of the produced coins, which ranged from the 1/2 Real to the 8 Reales (interestingly, what appears as a very nice specimen of the 8 Reales, with a full weight of 27.55 grams, was listed in Fonrobert under # 6251 and illustrated with an engraving but attributed to Mexico!). Many of the few surviving specimens were recovered from the Maravillas shipwreck which sunk in 1656 off Grand Bahama. Most of the very few specimens of the 4 Reales denomination seen by the cataloguer are all in miserable shape being sea-salvaged, with the present coin being the finest by a rather comfortable margin. Although the (1655) date is not present, the "C" mint mark and "S" assayer initial (for Salvador de Caceres) are fully visible to the right of the shield. As the finest known of an important and rare one year-type issue, the offering of the present specimen should attract serious interest. Ex: Isaac Rudman collection (Cayón 12/2003, lot 112, described as the "finest of less than 6 known specimens")."

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 13.74 g, .931 fine silver, .405 troy oz ASW, this specimen 13.24 g.

Catalog reference: Cayón no. 6150, KM 10.2, Restrepo-M40 (this coin).

Sources:

  • Cayón, Adolfo, Clemente Cayón and Juan Cayón, Las Monedas Españolas, del Tremis al Euro: del 411 a Nuestros Dias, 2 volumes, Madrid: Cayón9-Jano S.L., 2005.
  • Calicó, Xavier, Numismática Española: Catálogo General con Precios de Todas las Monedas Españolas Acuñadas desde Los Reyes Católicos Hasta Juan Carlos I, 1474 a 2001, Barcelona: Aureo & Calicó, 2008.
  • Restrepo, Jorge Emilio, Monedas de Colombia, 1619-2006, Medellin, Colombia, Impresiones Rojo: 2006.
  • Krause, Chester L., and Colin R. Bruce II, Standard Catalog of World Coins: Spain, Portugal and the New World, Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2002.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Warren Tucker and David Michaels, Heritage World and Ancient Coins Auction 3032, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2014

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