Spain 1635-Seg R 50 reales

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Goldberg sale 46, lot 830
photo courtesy Ira & Larry Goldberg
This specimen was lot 830 in Goldberg sale 46 (Beverly Hills, May 2008), where it sold for $57,500. The catalog description noted,
"Spain. Silver Cinquentin, or 50 Reales, 1635-R (Seville). Philip IV, 1621-1665. Assayer, Rafael Savan. Crowned Hapsburg shield. Reverse: Quartered arms of Castille and Leon in tressure. Some modest laminations on the obverse, typical of this period and especially this series. Otherwise, a superior strike on choice metal, finely toned with original reflective fields. One of the finest known, an elegant specimen. Extremely rare. Only 12 examples are known of this date, with 6 of them being in public collections. Likewise, of these only one example is in a condition comparable to the above, this too in a public collection (Coin Cabinet of Cataluna, no. 29387). Thus this coin is the finest known in private hands. Too large for holder. NGC graded MS-60. Philip IV inherited a country that held the most overseas territory of any in Europe, but was also the most disorganized of any European power. What Spain needed was to stay out of foreign wars and organize its vast holdings in a cohesive manner. What Spain did was to spend Philip's entire reign at war with the Netherlands, France, Portugal, the Protestant forces in the Holy Roman Empire, and England. These wars were justified by Spain's rulers as being God's will to establish Catholic orthodoxy but they essentially destroyed the Spanish fortunes that came from the New World and decimated the homeland populace. There are perhaps no finer emblems in silver of the Spanish main than this magnificent, huge coin. Provenance: Ex Coin Galleries, New York, Feb. 20, 1981 Mail Bid Sale, lot 1259; Sidney W. Smith & Sons, Miami, Florida, June 1982, lot 3815 (where it realized $15,000)."

While the Goldberg catalog descriptions are usually reliable, on this lot they erred. The aqueduct mintmark is for Segovia, not Seville. The silver fifty reales was struck erratically from 1609 to 1682 and all dates are rare. It is probable that these pieces were not intended for circulation but for presentation to courtiers, officials and other dignitaries.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 170 g, silver, probably .931 fine; this specimen: 172.88 grams.

Catalog reference: Cayón no. 6590, Dav-LS567, KM 81.5.


  • Cayón, Adolfo, Clemente Cayón and Juan Cayón, Las Monedas Españolas, del Tremis al Euro: del 411 a Nuestros Dias, vol. 1, Madrid: Cayón-Jano S.L., 2005.
  • Goldberg, Ira, and Larry Goldberg, Goldberg Sale 46: the Millenia Collection, Beverly Hills, CA: Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers, 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.

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