PCGS 9376 - 1935 50C Spanish Trail

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Ost.jpg

Authorization

The 1935 "Old Spanish Trail" coin commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Cabeza de Vaca Expedition through the Gulf states in 1535. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca was an early Spanish explorer who came to the New World as a member of the ill-fated Narváez expedition. Cabeza de Vaca and 3 others from the expedition were the only survivors. Cabeza de Vaca’s account of the expedition and his years of wandering in the Southwest influenced other Spanish expeditions to explore the region, and has become one of the primary documents from early Texas history. Cabeza de Vaca wrote his Relación documenting his seven year journey in the Texas Gulf Coast area and Northern Mexico which included information about numerous tribal bands of natives including the Karankawas, Atakapans, Caddoes, Jumanos, Mariames, Coahuiltecans, and Zunis as well as the landscape, flora and fauna of the region. His tales of Native civilizations encouraged other explorers such as Coronado and de Soto. He was appointed Governor of Paraguay in the 1540s and returned to Spain where he died in the 1550s. His Relación is still considered one of the most important documents of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca - Credit: Texas State Library

This coin is, more than anything, a store card for L. Hoffecker's coin shop in El Paso, Texas, amateurishly designed by Hoffecker himself. In some respects, the design is visionary, foreshadowing the quality of work that today's mint would be producing using state outlines and clip-art. The map shows how to get from St. Augustine, Florida to El Paso, Texas on the Old Spanish Trail Highway, which was blazed not in 1535 by Cabeza de Vaca, but in 1915, and is now known as US Hwy 90 and/or I-10. Cabeza de Vaca's continental voyages, which started near Tampa, never took his expedition across land until he and a few other survivors were shipwrecked near Galveston in 1528. He may or may not have ever come close to El Paso or I-10 on his journey, as he spent most of his time in Mexico. By 1535, the commemorated year shown on the coin, he was far south of there in the western part of Mexico. Of course, that route was never known as the Old Spanish Trail, either.

There was another trade route called the Spanish Trail that was in use in the early-mid 1800s. Looking at the coin, it started on the rim at about 10:00 in Santa Fe, heads northwest through New Mexico, Colorado, then west through Utah and more or less followed the same route as present day I-70 and I-15 towards Los Angeles.

With the distribution controlled entirely by Hoffecker, who sold the coins for a hefty markup at $2 each, and a design that nobody really liked, this coin managed to become an expensive, although not technically that rare, part of the 50 coin type set. One has to wonder if Max Mehl would have tried to get a companion coin issued commemorating DeSoto's discovery of I-35 from Duluth to Ft. Worth in years to follow had ludicrous commemoratives of the mid-30s not overstayed their welcome.

Obverse

As noted in the Official Red Book of United States coins: "The coin was designed by L.W. Hoffecker, and the models were prepared by Edmund J. Senn. The explorer's name literally translated means "head of a cow"; therefore, this device was chosen for the obverse.

Reverse

The reverse bearns a yucca tree and a map showing the Old Spanish Trail.

The map shows how to get from St. Augustine, Florida to El Paso, Texas on the Old Spanish Trail Highway, which was blazed not in 1535 by Cabeza de Vaca, but in 1915, and is now known as US Hwy 90 and/or I-10. Cabeza de Vaca's continental voyages, which started near Tampa, never took his expedition across land until he and a few other survivors were shipwrecked near Galveston in 1528. He may or may not have ever come close to El Paso or I-10 on his journey, as he spent most of his time in Mexico. By 1535, the commemorated year shown on the coin, he was far south of there in the western part of Mexico. Of course, that route was never known as the Old Spanish Trail, either.

There was another trade route called the Spanish Trail that was in use in the early-mid 1800s. Looking at the coin, it started on the rim at about 10:00 in Santa Fe, heads northwest through New Mexico, Colorado, then west through Utah and more or less followed the same route as present day I-70 and I-15 towards Los Angeles.

Mintage

The full authorization of 10,000 coins (plus 8 pieces reserved for assay) were struck in Philadelphia in September of 1935. They were distributed through the El Paso Museum Committee for $2 apiece. 49 coins were sold out of his estate in a Pullen and Hanks sale in 1982, and another 63 pieces were auctioned by Superior Galleries in 1987.

Specification

Composition

g fine silver, oz troy oz ASW.

Diameter: mm ( in)

Weight: a minimum of grams.

Rim:

Catalog reference

Prices realized from past auction lots. (PCGS Holder)

  • Grade------------ Date------Where---------------Price------------Lot #
  • 69-- --------- US $----
  • 70--

Link to

Gallery

The following map shows the actual stops along the trail (now I-10/US 90):

Source