Jamaica (1758) 1 pound 5 shillings

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Heritage sale 3030, lot 24635
photo courtesy Heritage Auctions

The island of Jamaica was captured by the British in 1655, and formally ceded to them in 1670 by the Treaty of Madrid. Foreign silver abounded in this colony rich in sugar and wealth pirated offshore. In 1758 the Jamaican legislature authorized the countermarking of all denominations of Spanish colonial pillar reales, mostly from Mexico City and Lima. The countermark consists of the letters GR (Georgius Rex). Effort appears to have been made to center the counterstamps but did not always succeed.

This specimen was lot 24635 in Heritage sale 3030 (New York, January 2014), where it sold for $32,900. The catalog description[1] noted,

"Extremely Rare Jamaica "GR" Counterstamp on Popayán 1758 2 Escudos British Colony - Jamaica Authority of November gold 1758 Pistole (valued at One Pound Five Shillings), VF20 NGC. Under coin unflawed almost Very Fine with a pleasant tone, counterstamp Very Fine. A Colombia Popayán 1758-J 2 Escudos counterstamped centrally on both sides with a floriate "GR" in a circular indent (same punches as those used to stamp the silver 1 Real). Extremely rare and important with four specimens known for this type, this being one of two over a Popayán 1758 2 Escudos. The four known specimens to the cataloguer are the following:

1) 2 E 1758 Popayán: the present coin, ex Madrid collector (Glendining's 6/1937, lot 416, for £ 40). This piece can be identified by the small dig next to the lower right of the shield on the reverse.

2) 2 E 1758 Popayán: the Pridmore plate coin, ex Glendining's (5/1961, lot 125 for £ 160) - ex Ray Byrne (Jess Peters 6/1975, lot 798, for $ 7,500) - ex Edward Roehrs collection (Dix Noonan Webb 11/2011, lot 383 for £19,000). Different dies from the present piece, noticeable in the closer digits 5 and 8 in the date, and the different position for the R in "SEQUOR" v/s the shield on the reverse. Note that the description in the Byrne catalog gives an ex Murdoch-Caldecott pedigree for this piece, but this would appear to be unsubstantiated: the cataloguer inspected both of the Murdoch (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 7/1903) and Caldecott (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 6/1912) sales, and could not find the mentioned piece.

3) 2 E 1757 Nuevo Reino: ex Lonja del Almidon sale 3/1936, lot 1384 - Gordon miswrote the reference as Lonja de Almedo, same coin as Spink London 10/1991 sale for $28,900.

4) 2 E 1759 Popayán: the Gordon plate coin.

All Jamaican countermarked gold is very rare, with only 9 specimens of the doubloon and 4 specimens of the pistole (as mentioned above) having been traced by the cataloguer. Note in particular that this specimen and another specimen of the related 1759 Lima doubloon (see our lot 23510) were both sold in the anonymous "Gold Coins" Glendining's sale of June 16, 1937 as lots 415 and 416. The preface to that important sale's catalog reads The South American collection was brought together, piece by piece by a Madrid collector, and was fortunately brought out of the country a few weeks before the Civil War started... The West Indian series also produces two great rarities in the Onza and ¼ Onza of Jamaica (lots 415 and 416), neither of which appear to have come on the market before, although both are reported as being excessively rare by Howland Wood. Amazingly, an equivalent duo of extreme rarities has been once more reunited for public auction, more than 75 years later! A truly wonderful opportunity for the specialist, and a landmark of the I. Rudman collection."

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 6.7 g, .916 fine gold.

Catalog reference: KM10.2, Fr-3, Prid-2, Gordon-2 (c).


  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
  • [1]Bierrenbach, Cristiano, Warren Tucker and David Michaels, Heritage World and Ancient Coins Auction 3030, featuring the RLM Collection, the Isaac Rudman Collection, the Hans Cook Collection and the Collection of Donald E. Bently, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2013.
  • Byrne, Ray, Coins, Tokens, & Medals from the West Indies, Jess Peters, Inc, auction catalog - Sale #78, June 13-15, 1975.

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