Cobs and Macuquinas from Potosi, Bolivia coins

Silver Cobs of Potosi, 1574-1773

Bolivian silver cobs

Potosi, BoliviaWhen it comes to silver cobs, no mint was more prolific than Potosi, Bolivia, where an entire mountain of silver was discovered in the early 1500s. It took a little while before authorities figured out that a mint was needed on site, where the silver was being mined, even though the extreme remoteness and elevation presented major problems that were never fully resolved. The most egregious problem, perhaps, was an almost lawless environment where silver barons controlled the government and took full advantage by owning and profiting from mint offices and even by debasing the silver itself, causing a major scandal that put the entire world on its financial ear in the mid-1600s. Up to that point Potosi struck shield-type cobs, some of which were then recalled and either melted or countermarked (to attest to proper fineness) in 1652. To rectify the whole system, a new design was begun in that year, starting with some "transitional" issues and culminating in the pillars-and-waves design that became a global mainstay again throughout the rest of the 1600s and most of the 1700s. In 1773 the last cob ever struck came off the press in Potosi, long since superseded by milled coins (begun there in 1767).

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Shield type: 8 reales | 4 reales | 2 reales | 1 reales | 1/2 reales | 1/4 reales

Pillars-and-waves: 8 reales | 4 reales | 2 reales | 1 reales | 1/2 reales

 

 

Potosi, Bolivia

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Shield type 8 reales

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Shield type 4 reales

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Shield type 2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, Philip III, assayer C, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, Philip III, assayer C, rare. Corroded from salvage and silvery from cleaning, bold assayer and cross (slightly off-center), Fine or so overall. g061604191050 $135
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, (164)9O, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, (164)9O, rare. Full P-O and clear 9 of date, most of shield and cross despite flatness, somewhat silvery VF with toning in crevices. g061604284012 $195

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Shield type 1 reales

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1/4 reales (Cuartillos)

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to left, mintmark P to right, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to left, mintmark P to right, rare. Broad flan but with small pieces of edge missing, AVF with full castle and R-P. good full lion (tall, standing), richly toned. g081504146019 $595
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer B  (5th period) to left, mintmark P to right, border of boxes on obverse, rare.

Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer B (5th period) to left, mintmark P to right, border of boxes on obverse, rare. Lightly corroded surfaces (salvaged) but with clear B and lion.

g081504146026 $495
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer B  (5th period) to left, mintmark P to right, border of boxes on obverse, large castle, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer B (5th period) to left, mintmark P to right, border of boxes on obverse, large castle, rare. Thin from salvage but with bold VF details (castle and lion, B-P), darkly toned. g081504146024 $495

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Transitional type

Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, (1652)E Transitional, McLean Type II. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, (1652)E Transitional, McLean Type II. Bold full pillars with F-I-IIII / PLV-SV-LTR / E-I-E, top half of shield (and full crown) with I-A-(P-5) to left and I-O-E-(2) to right, VF with toned fields, some flatness. g021704373001 $195

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Pillars-and-waves 8 reales

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Pillars-and-waves 4 reales

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Pillars-and-waves 2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1755q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1755q. 5.71 grams. Clear date, bold assayer, toned but very worn (AVG). g071513031012 $65

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Pillars-and-waves 1 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1684V. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1684V. 2.89 grams. Good full pillars and cross, VF+ with hairline edge-split, three assayers. g061604191135 SOLD

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Pillars-and-waves 1/2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, (1654), P•H at top, 1/4R flan (unique). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, (1654), P•H at top, 1/4R flan (unique). Good cross, full crown above P•H but monogram off the flan (poorly centered), very small flan (thin) that appears to be for a 1/4 real (which did not exist this late), VF with light toning. g081504146031 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, 1744. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, 1763. 1.61 grams. Fine with some encrustation, bold and clearly visible 763 of date, rare date. g101804231034 $95

  

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