Colombia 1770-NR VJ 8 reales

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Heritage sale 3005, lot 20694
photo courtesy Heritage Auctions
photo courtesy Stack's
Colombia 1770 8 reales rev Stacks 110-1132.jpg
The first specimen was lot 20694 in Heritage Auctions sale 3005 (Long Beach, May 2009), where it sold for $80,500. The catalog description[1] noted,

"A Majestic Colombian 1770 Pillar Dollar. Carlos III Pillar 8 Reales 1770NR-VJ, MS64 NGC. Few world crowns demand so much numismatic interest as the Columnarios or Pillar Dollars that were struck from 1732 to 1773 in numerous Spanish mint houses throughout the Americas. By the second half of the 18th century, the Pillar Dollar had become a true 'world currency' being widely used in Europe, the United States (where it was legal tender), and the Far East. Both old and new worlds are depicted on the coin's obverse and are crowned between the two pillars of Hercules with legends 'VTRAQUE VNUM' (both are one). On the reverse, the arms of Castille and Leon are displayed under the Spanish crown with the denomination '8' to the right, assayer initials to the left.

"Of all the Pillar Dollars minted, the pieces struck in Santa Fe de Bogotá, Nueva Granada (today Colombia) at the Nuevo Reino mint are perhaps the most desired among collectors and numismatists worldwide. The coins were only struck in 1759, 1762 and 1770--all are extremely rare with very few specimens known.

"The 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillar Dollar was unknown to exist until about 3 years ago when exactly fourteen coins where found in the old foundations of the Nuestra Senora del Pilar church in Bogotá. This church, which was also a convent and school for girls, existed from the 1770's until 1948 when it was set on fire during major riots in Bogotá. The church was eventually torn down, and the area was turned into a parking lot. A few years ago, construction began on a new building. When crews dug up the parking lot, they found a small group of coins in the old church foundation--including the fourteen 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillars.

"Spanish tradition says that when the first foundation stone is laid, it is blessed and in specific cases, the foundation is carved, engraved and coins are placed inside. Inside this stone, over 100 coins were found, most were cob 2 Reales, a few gold cobs, and numerous circulated Pillars from Mexico. Since there are no previous records of 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillars, it is likely that these pieces were struck specifically for the ceremonies at the Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church.

"All of the coins found have been sold to private collectors and museums in Colombia and Spain. The original purchaser of the coins kept the two highest quality coins for himself, and the piece we present here is one of them. With an incredibly strong and sharp strike, most, if not all of the original luster is remaining. This coin will command lively competition, and once it is done, the Nueva Reino 1770 8 Reales will find a new home and become the centerpiece of a very advanced numismatic cabinet."

The second specimen was lot 1128 in Stack's "Vermuele, Ward & Mexico Maxico" sale (New York, January 2010), where it sold for $46,000. The catalog description[2] noted,
"COLOMBIA. Carlos III, 1759-1788. 8 Reales, 1770 NR VJ. Nuevo Reino, Santa Fe de Bogotá. Crowned quartered shield, titles of Carlos III, rosettes and VJ - 8 flanking. Rv. VTRAQVE VNVM, and Both shall be One around crowned globes between Pillars of Hercules over waves, the famed Columnario or Dos Mundos Milled Dollar. Type of KM 39, unlisted date. The term Nuevo Reino was the abbreviation for New Kingdom of Granada, the early colonial designation that lingered on after independence in the Republic of New Granada and Granadine Confederation. The Columnario 8 Reales was struck at Bogotá only in 1759, 1762 and 1770 and all dates are rare and virtually non-existent in the startlingly high grade exemplified by this breath-taking beauty. The 1770 NR date was not known to exist until 2006, when a trove of gold and silver colonial era coins was uncovered in the paved-over ruins of the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, an historic building destroyed during the epic rioting of 1948 called Bogotázo, triggered by the assassination of Liberal leader José Eliecer Gaitán and was the first revolutionary warfare in which the young Fidel Castro was known to be involved. The cornerstone of the ruined church held more than 100 coins, most silver Cob 2 Reales, but including a number of circulated Mexican Pillar 8 Reales and a few gold Cobs. Fourteen 1770 NR 8 Reales were found and the two finest examples were kept by the discoverer. This fully Mint State example shows reflective lustre below rich gray-russet toning. An exceptionally rare and important coin that will be the centerpiece of any collection of South American rarities. MS-62 (NGC). A slightly higher grade example (MS-64 (NGC)) was a highlight of the May 2009 Long Beach Signature World and Ancient coin auction where it realized $80,500."

Recorded mintage: unknown but few (probably less than a hundred).

Specification: 27.07 g, .917 fine silver.

Catalog reference: KM 39 (Date Unlisted), Calico 1000, Cayón Unlisted.


  • [1]Tucker, Warren and Scott Cordry, Heritage Signature Auction 3005: World Coins, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2009.
  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
  • Gilboy, Frank F., The Milled Columnarios of Central and South America: Spanish American Pillar Coinage, 1732 to 1772, Regina, Saskatchewan: Prairie Wind Publishing, 1999.
  • Yonaka, Brad, A Variety Guide to the Pillar Coinage of the Guatemala, Bogota, Lima, Potosi, and Santiago Mints, 1752-1771, Long Beach, CA: Agorocu Consulting, 2018.
  • [2]Kraljevich, John, and Frank Van Valen, The Vermuele, Ward & Mexico Maxico Collections, New York: Stack's, 2009.
  • Restrepo, Jorge Emilio, Monedas de Colombia, 1619-2006, Medellin, Colombia, Impresiones Rojo: 2006.

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