Colombia 1755-NR S 8 escudos

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Ponterio sale 182, lot 479
Colombia 1755 8 escudos rev P182-479.jpg
This specimen was lot 479 in Ponterio sale 182 (New York, January 2014), where it sold for $223,250. The catalog description[1] noted,

"COLOMBIA. 8 Escudos "Milled", 1755-S. Nuevo Reino Mint (Bogotá). PCGS EF-45 Secure Holder. Unique & Previously Unknown 1755 Nuevo Reino "Milled" 8 Escudos The First Machine Made 8 Escudos of Colombia A Numismatic Landmark

Assayer S (Sebastian de Rivera). In 2004, the existence of a unique 1755 'milled' 4 Escudos of Nuevo Reino shocked the numismatic community and the world at large as it received worldwide media coverage. Considered one of the most significant highlights of the famed Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. Collection, this piece made headlines with Coin World, World Coin News, and, as well as in newspapers and radio programs in its home city of Bogotá.

Prior to the discovery of the Eliasberg 4 Escudos, 'milled' or machine made coinage from Colombia before 1756 was unknown. The discovery of the Eliasberg coin radically revised our understanding of Colombian coinage. Previously, most mainstream numismatists believed that the mint of Nuevo Reino produced solely crudely made, hand-hammered “cob” coinage until 1756, changing to “milled” coinage at some time during that year. The Eliasberg 4 Escudos and this newly discovered 8 Escudos suggest that the mint of Nuevo Reino underwent a transition, rather than a sudden changeover in minting methods. Similar situations occurred at the other Spanish Colonial New World mints. While the transition to mechanization was underway, it was not uncommon for a mint to produce multiple coinage types in the same year using different methods. An example of this transition can be seen with the Mexico City mint in the 1730's, where “cob”, “klippe” and “milled” coinage were all produced in the same years. The Potosi mint of Bolivia also experienced a similar transition from 1767-70, when “cob” and “milled” coinages were produced in the same years.

The mint of Nuevo Reino (Bogotá) began the steps leading to mechanization in 1753. In this year, the crown assumed direct control of the mint by replacing the private treasurers with royal superintendents. The crown appointed Lieutenant Colonel Miguel de Santiesteban as superintendent and Don Thomas Sanchez Reziente as director. When royal officials arrived at the mint of Nuevo Reino, they noted that everything was done by hand in a crude manner. The production of hand-hammered “cob” coinage was ordered to continue temporarily to meet the demand for circulating currency. Thomas Sanchez Reziente then set about reconstructing the mint facilities and modernizing its minting equipment with screw presses and other machinery brought from Spain. The transition from hand-hammered “cob” coinage to machine made “milled” coinage produced with a screw press occurred gradually over two years (1755-1756). Meticulous mintage figures were recorded by the Spanish superintendents starting in 1753, and A.M. Barriga Villaba’s classic reference on Colombian coinage Historia De Las Casa De Moneda, shows two distinct sets of mintage figures for gold in this period. The first set of mintage figures shows the amount of gold minted in the form of 'cob' coinage for the years 1753-1756, with the totals in marks for each specific year. A second set of mintage figures begins in 1755 and shows mintage figures in marks for "milled" coinage or “Moneda circular de cordoncillo”. The "milled" gold coinage of 1755 was produced in the smallest quantity of any Colombian gold coinage of this era. Although the figures do not state the exact number of 4 or 8 Escudos that were minted, they do cite only these two denominations as having been produced. In 1755, just over 32 marks of gold were manufactured into "milled" 4 and 8 Escudos. The production of gold “cob” coinage this year was considerably more, just over 8,393 marks of gold. In short, the Nuevo Reino mint produced more than 262 times the amount of “cob” gold than “milled” gold in 1755.

Currently, there are only four known examples of the 1755 'cob' 8 Escudos, while the 'milled' 8 Escudos offered here is unique. The survival of this unique 1755 'milled' 8 Escudos is an amazing anomaly. Its rarity is the result of various factors combined with attrition. First, the 1755 'milled' 8 Escudos were produced in limited quantities and were probably only struck for part of one year. Second, the gradual debasement of coinage within the Spanish Empire also contributed greatly to the rarity of this issue. In 1755, Colombian gold coinage was produced to an official standard 0.9170 fine gold. In 1772, this standard changed to 0.9010, which resulted in earlier dated coins being melted down for a small profit. In fact, the standard changed on several occasions, and earlier dates with a higher gold content were recalled and reminted. In 1785 the fineness was lowered once again, this time to 0.8750, a standard that remained well into the Republican era. During the Republican era it is almost certain that earlier Spanish issues were melted and re-coined either for simple profit or as a show of resentment towards Spain. This set of circumstances has left the numismatic community with this sole surviving example of the first date of machine struck 8 Escudos of Colombia.

The obverse features a draped and armored portrait of King Ferdinand VI of Spain, with the order of the Golden Fleece suspended from his neck. The legend reads 'FERDND VI D. G. HISPAN. ET. IND. REX.' with a date of 1755. Translated: 'Ferdinand VI by the grace of god, King of Spain and the Indies' 1755. The reverse design features the great Bourbon shield surmounted by the Spanish crown, encircled by the Order of the Golden Fleece. The legend reads 'NOMINA MAGNA SEQUOR'. Translated: 'I succeed great names' reinforcing the importance and legitimacy of his name in the lineage of Spanish Kings. We are pleased to offer an extraordinary discovery coin of the utmost historical importance. A small natural mint made planchet flaw is noted on the reverse and there are some minor deposits accumulated from time in circulation. This wholesome and original piece shows light to moderate evidence of circulation, as expected from an item of this era. Light orange toning highlights the protected areas."

Milled coinage of gold officially commenced in 1756. This type was struck at Bogotá 1756-60 and at Popayán 1758-60. Unlike later dates (after 1772), these early issues are rare.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 27.07 g, .917 fine gold, .798 troy oz AGW.

Catalog reference: Cayón-10892 (listed as a cob), Fr-15 (for type, date unlisted); KM-32.1 (for type, date unlisted); Calico-type-18 (date unlisted); Restrepo-type-27 (date unlisted); La Onza-(date unlisted); NR-M8-FVI-(date unlisted).


  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
  • 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.
  • Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 9th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 2017.
  • Restrepo, Jorge Emilio, Monedas de Colombia, 1619-2006, Medellin, Colombia: Impresiones Rojo, 2006.
  • [1]Ponterio, Richard, Ponterio sale 182: The January 2014 NYINC Auction: World Coins, Irvine, CA: Stacks Bowers LLC.

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