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 In 1773 the last cob ever struck came off the press in Potosi, long since superseded by milled coins (begun there in 1767).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

Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer C under erased B, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer C under erased B, rare. Heavy corrosion but clear assayer with collector's tag and Auction 17 lot-tag 275 d082101151003 $1,295
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1626 P, quadrants of cross transposed, very rare. weight 26.64 grams. Indistinct date (not 100% certain) Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1626 P, quadrants of cross transposed, very rare. weight 26.64 grams. Indistinct date (not 100% certain) g102205223004 $595
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip IV, assayer TR (ca. 1645). weight 27.00 grams. scarce. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip IV, assayer TR (ca. 1645). weight 27.00 grams. scarce. g102205222008 $695

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Shield type 4 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, (1649) O, crowned-? countermark on cross. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, (1649) O, crowned-? countermark on cross. S-P35; KM-17b; Cal-1105. 12.18 grams. Full P-O to left of full but off-center shield, bottom half of cross visible (also off-center) with deep but unidentifiable countermark above and what appears to be a reverse impression of same on shield side, VG with deep toning all over, small edge-split. i112104191053 $325

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Shield type 2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, Philip II, assayer M/R to left, very rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, Philip II, assayer M/R to left, very rare. S-P2; KM-3.2; Cal-unl. 6.73 grams. Crude low VF with encrusted surfaces yet clear overassayer M/R, weak cross but strong full shield. Pedigreed to the Barry Stallard collection, with his original tag. g062204191006 SOLD

Shield type 1/2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to left, mintmark P to right. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to left, mintmark P to right. 1.62 grams. Good full cross-lions-castles, crown and monogram with bold R-P, much legend, AXF wiuth light sediment in crevices, holed at bottom of cross. g022202191002 SOLD

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

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Pillars-and-waves 8 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1655 E, PH at top, 8 above cross. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1655 E, PH at top, 8 above cross. 24.47 grams. Technically full pillars and cross but with flat areas, two dates, patchy dark toning over scratched and slightly porous surfaces (salvaged), otherwise AVF. g062105054004 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1706 Y. S-P43a; KM-31; Cal-1541. 26.68 grams. Very chunky with flat peripheries due to uneven thickness (amazing contrast to the previous lot), yet with full pillars (clear date, slightly doubled) and most of cross (bold mintmark), overall VF and very naturally toned. Pedigreed to the Ponterio auction of June 1994, with original lot-tag 170. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1706 Y. S-P43a; KM-31; Cal-1541. 26.68 grams. Very chunky with flat peripheries due to uneven thickness (amazing contrast to the previous lot), yet with full pillars (clear date, slightly doubled) and most of cross (bold mintmark), overall VF and very naturally toned. Pedigreed to the Ponterio auction of June 1994, with original lot-tag 170. g112204191009 $795
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1742 P. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1742 P. 25.87 grams. Chunky XF with some slight surface corrosion and light scuffing, full pillars and nearly full (off-center) cross, coppery toning in crevices. g062113031002 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1742 C. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1742 C. S-P49; KM-31a; Cal-1583. 26.75 grams. VF with surface corrosion on the cross side, struck on a very uneven and crude planchet though nicely detailed with full pillars and partial cross plus two clear dates. Pedigreed to the Jorge Ugaz collection. g112104191054 $695
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1744 C. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1744 C. 27.19 grams. Very chunky and crude flan but with good full cross and pillars, two full dates and assayers, three mintmarks, VF+. g01212121037 $795
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1745 q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1745 q. Choice, nice patina. g082216111001 $695
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754 C+q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754 C+q. Choice, nice patina. g082216111002 $595
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754 C+q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754 C+q. Choice, nice patina. g082216111006 $495

Pillars-and-waves 4 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1687 VR. Choice and well-centered pillars and cross with two clear dates, lightly toned AVF. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1687 VR. Choice and well-centered pillars and cross with two clear dates, lightly toned AVF. g102205220010 $695
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1759 q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1759 q. S-P54; KM-39; Cal-416. 13.13 grams. Bold date above waves, with most of pillars and cross but both sides plagued by the usual surface roughness of this era (exacerbated by dark toning in crevices), crude edge as made, Fine+. g112104191022 SOLD

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

  

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