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 In 1773 the last cob ever struck came off the press in Potosi, long since superseded by milled coins (begun there in 1767).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 IV, assayer not visible (1640s), debased and underweight. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, (162)7T, quadrants of cross transposed, rare. S-P24; KM-19a; CT-467. 27.07 grams. Non-toned XF with good full shield and cross (rare to see transposed quadrants this late), tail of 7 of date visible. g051804191092 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip IV, assayer not visible (1640s), debased and underweight. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1640, assayer not visible, rare. KM-19a. 26.90 grams. Full and clear date with particularly bold 0 (rare thus), also one nice lion and nearly full king's name and ordinal but otherwise crude, Fine, toned on fields. g051804191093 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip IV, assayer not visible (1640s), debased and underweight. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip IV, assayer not visible (1640s), debased and underweight. 20.45 grams. Fascinating example of the type of coin that was wrecking the world economy and was eventually recalled (this one somehow overlooked), as it was clearly struck underweight (although part of the edge shows slight shaving, too) and the spaces around the details are loaded with a rusty layer of coppery oxidation and sediment, also typically crude in strike (off-center shield but good full cross), Fine or so. g041818221001 $240

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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. Bold assayer, full but weaker shield and cross, Fine with surface corrosion (salvaged), patchy toning. g061604191049 $140
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, Philip IV, assayer P (1620s). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, Philip IV, assayer P (1620s). Bold P-dot-P, full but weak shield and cross, Fine+. g051704191047 $110
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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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1626T, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1626T, rare. With clear bottoms of digits of date, this coin could easily be read as 1620 (as were similar specimens identifed by Sellschopp), but there is also a full PT, which indicates post-1622, also nearly full shield and cross, Fine with toned fields. g061604191053 $195

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1/4 reales (Cuartillos)

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to right, mintmark P to left, rare, rainbow toned. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer R (Rincon) to right, mintmark P to left, rare, rainbow toned. g081504146017 $975
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. Richly toned AVF with full inner details, nearly full crowns and legends, broad flan, tiny hole near edge. g081504146018 $975
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  (1st period) to left, mintmark P to right, very rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/4 real, Philip II, assayer B (1st period) to left, mintmark P to right, very rare. Clear B-P flanking castle, early Seville-style lion and fine-dot borders, salvaged AVF with dark toning and chips in edge. g081504146021 $975
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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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
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, (1652)E Transitional, McLean Type II. Full pillars, most of shield, broad-flan but unevenly-struck Fine+ with dark toning in crevices, small hole at edge. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, (1652)E Transitional, McLean Type II. Full pillars, most of shield, broad-flan but unevenly-struck Fine+ with dark toning in crevices, small hole at edge. g021704373002 $95

 

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Pillars-and-waves 8 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1676E, Calbeto Plate Coin. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1676E, Calbeto Plate Coin. S-P37b; KM-26; CT-351. 25.84 grams. Very crude coin with low contrast due to dark toning and light surface corrosion (possibly from a wreck, otherwise Fine), but with two dates and mintmarks, three assayers, one nice crown, and desirable for its pedigree (this date considered rather scarce in Calbeto's time but now more common due to the Consolacion wreck of 1681). Plate Coin #1081 in Calbeto's Compendium VIII Reales (1970). g061604192019 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1707Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1707Y. S-P43a; KM-31; CT-867. 26.84 grams. Chunky flan with full but doubled pillars and cross, toned Fine, three dates. g111604192003 $295
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. S-P43a; KM-31; CT-872. 26.34 grams. Good full cross, messy pillars on crude (chunky) flan, two dates (very scarce thus), VF for the era (sharp edges) with light toning all over. g061604192022 $295
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. S-P43a; KM-31; CT-872. 26.82 grams. Chunky and crude, with central details only, the pillars side doubled, but with two dates visible and traditionally scarce, technically no worse than AVF, nicely toned. g061604193067 $250
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1712Y. S-P43a; KM-31; CT-872. 26.01 grams. Very crude strike (chunky and mostly flat) but with clear date, About Fine with uneven toning and spots of green, scarce. g051704191062 $225
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1737E. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1737E. 26.38 grams. Bold date and assayer and mintmark above full waves, nearly full but doubled cross, uneven toning and light surface corrosion, VF details. g081718051001 $240
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1745q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1745q. S-P50; KM-31a; CT-909. 26.94 grams. Very chunky flan with crude but well-centered pillars and cross, bold date, Fine, deeply toned. g121604340001 $275

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Pillars-and-waves 4 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1753q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1765(V)-Y. S-P57; KM-44; CT-1158. 13.18 grams. Two very bold dates, full centers but peripheries flat, AVF with sediment on fields, slightly rough surfaces. g051804191098 SOLD

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Pillars-and-waves 2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1665E. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1665E. 4.78 grams. Crude flan with bold waves and tops of pillars, off-center cross, lightly corroded Fine with flat spots. g061604284005 $110
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1674E. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1674E. 7.32 grams. Full cross and pillars, two dates, solid VF but with lots of dark toning and staining and verdigris (needs cleaning). g061504191115 $165
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1676E. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1676E. 6.35 grams. Good full cross, full but off-center pillars, two clear dates and mintmarks and assayers, lightly toned VF with small edge-split. g051604275001 $195
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1747q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1747q. 6.91 grams. Good full pillars with bold date, good but off-center cross, oblong flan, nicely toned VF+. g011607201003 $195
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
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1767(V-Y). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1767(V-Y). 6.60 grams. Crude chunky flan with very sharp points (hence high grade, like XF for actual wear), full cross, unevenly toned. g061604284009 $85

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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 $75
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1718Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1718Y. 3.88 grams. Toned About Fine with clear date, much flatness. g061604191137 $65

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Pillars-and-waves 1/2 reales

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Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, (1654), PH at top, 1/4R flan (unique). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, (1654), PH at top, 1/4R flan (unique). Good cross, full crown above PH 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, 1656 (date in legend), distinctive monogram superimposed on cross with 4 dots, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, 1656 (date in legend), distinctive monogram superimposed on cross with 4 dots, rare. Broad enough flan to show bottoms of all four digits of date in cross-side legend, good cross but messy (doubled) monogram, richly old-toned Fine with hole. g061504192014 $95
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, 1744. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1/2 real, 1744. Bold date (possibly 4/3), incomplete monogram and cross, Fine with patchy toning. g061604191149 $50

  

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