Guatemala 1742-G J 2 reales

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photo courtesy Daniel F. Sedwick, LLC
This specimen was lot 937 in Sedwick sale 10 (Winter Park, FL, October 2011), where it sold for $5750. The catalog description[1] noted,

"Guatemala, unique machine-struck trial 2 reales, 1742J, struck on a round flan with milled edge Beautifully toned Fine+ with old hole near edge, full inner details and most of legends with slight doubling that renders the motto as VTTRA QUE. Comments: by Carlos Jara.

"This unusual and important coin is completely missing in all references, including Carlos Jara’s landmark book Historia de la Casa de Moneda de Guatemala 1731-1776 (2010). It was struck with regular cob dies but on a fully round planchet about 24 mm in diameter with an ornate floral edge design, like what is seen on the pillar coinage struck in Mexico contemporaneously, and of relatively even thickness, in stark contrast to the regular cob issues of Guatemala, but at the same time clearly much cruder than its Mexican counterparts. A similar issue was made in Guatemala in 1733, as detailed in Jara’s book and summarized as follows:

"A Royal Ordinance dated January 17, 1731, authorized the founding of the Guatemala mint in order to strike coins in accordance with the Seville Ordinances of 1728, which specified a milled coinage of the pillar type for the silver and a wigged-bust or pelucona type for the gold. For two or three days only, starting in March 19, 1733, the mint did indeed issue fully round coins with an edge design (albeit hand struck due to the lack of coining presses) but this immediately proved to be economically impractical. Therefore, on March 21, 1733, just two days after the mintage of these coins had begun, the mint’s director José Eustaquio de León requested two concessions: first, the striking of gold coins on round planchets of reduced diameter (but with an edge design) in order to ensure a good (strong) impression of the dies; and second, the mintage of silver coinage on irregularly shaped flans, also of reduced size, and with no edge design (corresponding to the common hand-struck silver coinage issued in Guatemala through 1753.) The silver coins of 1733 struck on round planchets are thus neither patterns nor special presentation pieces, but simply the first silver coins that were struck in the Guatemala mint… for only three days!

"Eustaquio de León was nevertheless a conscientious man, and continued to produce coins that were in strict compliance with the 1728 Seville Ordinances. Reports to the king dated 1739 by him and the mint’s accountant Juan José Martínez and Treasurer Santiago de Villavicencio all requested instructions from Spain to produce “moneda circular o esferica”. In particular, Villavicencio explicitly indicated in his communication of April 13, 1739: “regarding the striking of round coinage, if it were His Majesty’s will that the coinage produced in this mint [of Guatemala] were not the hand struck one, as has been the case until now, but [rather] the round one, His Majesty should order that the necessary instruments be sent from Mexico since it would be very difficult to find in this city [of Guatemala] a craftsman that would fabricate them with perfection...”

"Villavicencio’s request was not fulfilled until May 14, 1751, when a Royal Ordinance instructed that the coinage struck in Guatemala should be all in round milled coins. The necessary master dies, puncheons and edge milling instruments were received on February 17, 1753, and the first milled coins were finally struck on March 29, 1754.

"However, Eustaquio de León was diligent enough to implement on his own (meaning without receiving machinery from Mexico or Spain) a coin press in 1745; the proclamation medals of 1747, all struck on carefully cut round flans with an edge design and showing a better strike than that of the regular hand struck silver coins, are most probably a milled issue, minted on Eustaquio de León’s coining press.

"The present 1742 two reales, definitely struck in Guatemala and on a round flan with a similar edge design, now allows us to conclude that the first trial strikings with that coin press had started a bit earlier, in 1742. Its reduced flan diameter of about 25 mm (the average diameter for the milled pillar two reales in the Fonrobert, Patterson, and Castillo collections being 26 mm), shows that Eustaquio de León clearly did not wish to subject the newly constructed coining press to excessive stress during the early trial strikes. This is reminiscent of his request to issue the hand-struck gold coinage on reduced diameter flans. The imperfect condition of this new press is also hinted at from the coin’s double or triple strike. Why this first press was not used to make regular coinage after that is unknown.

"A lack of price history makes it impossible to determine a fair estimate for this unique coin; the closest comparison is an example of the round 1733 half real (of which two or three are known), in much lesser grade and crudely plugged, that sold for 2600 Euros (about $3700) in Cayón in June 2009 (later estimated in Jara’s book for US$5000). The historical importance of our 1742 coin from contemporary documentation, as well as its being a previously unknown denomination for the round silver coins of Philip V, and of a previously unpublished date (remember that all previously published round silver coins of Philip V are dated 1733), demands a healthy premium over the aforementioned 1733 half real."

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 6.77 g, 0.917 fine silver, 0.1995 oz ASW; This specimen 6.7 grams.

Catalog reference: S-G1; cf KM-4; cf CT-1174, Cayon-8898.


  • Cayón, Adolfo, Clemente Cayón and Juan Cayón, Las Monedas Españolas, del Tremis al Euro: del 411 a Nuestros Dias, 2 volumes, Madrid: Cayón-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.
  • 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]Sedwick, Daniel F., Augi Garcia and Cori Sedwick Downing, Treasure Auction #10, Winter Park, FL: Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC, 2011.

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