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 In 1773 the last cob ever struck came off the press in Potosi, long since superseded by milled coins (begun there in 1767).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 A. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer A. S-P11; KM-5.1; CT-157. 26.89 grams. Lustrous AU with hairline edge-split, nice full cross and shield, most of crown but not much legend. g051904191071 $395
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period), borders of x's. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period), borders of x's. S-P14; KM-5.5. 26.96 grams. Good full shield, full but weaker cross-and-tressure, bold denomination, clear borders, AVF with black spots near edge but otherwise non-toned. g051804191089 $325
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period). S-P14; KM-unl (5.1 for type). 27.17 grams. Good full cross and shield and crown, full P-B, lightly toned VF with tiny edge-split. g051904191072 $275
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, Philip II, assayer B (5th period). S-P14; KM-unl (5.1 for type). 26.37 grams. Non-toned VF with bold full shield, full but weaker cross with slight doubling and surface corrosion, full P-B. g051904191073 $250
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 Royal (galano), 1638TR, denomination VIII, very rare. S-P27; KM-R19a; CT-384. 26.71 grams. Another lovely gem from the first decade of Potosi Royals (see lot #768, and note that no Royals are known from 1632 to 1635), this with 100% full details on a very broad flan with minimal doubling and choice toning, AXF overall. This is a die-match with Lazaro #98 (RX, less than 3 known), with denomination Roman VIII versus Arabic 8 (as both were used from 1637 to 1644),plug at the bottom of the cross. g121813030001 $13,500
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, (1)645, assayer not visible. KM-19a. 27.20 grams. Bold full date (rare thus) outside of full but crude cross, the shield full but very doubled, non-toned AXF with peripheral flatness and small part of edge bent. g111804191022 $395

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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, (161)8T, large 8 in date, no eagles in Sicily, no T in ET, rare. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, (161)8T, large 8 in date, no eagles in Sicily, no T in ET, rare. S-P21; KM-8; CT-357. 6.70 grams. Small, full, off-center cross (somewhat weak) with most of 8 visible followed by a cross-fleury ornament and then EYYN instead of ET (double struck there), bold full shield with blanks in the triangular designs at upper right, Fine with toning in crevices. Pedigreed to our Auction #21, with original lot-tag #943. g051904191074 $165
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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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. 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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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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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, 1737E, NGC AU 55. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1737E, NGC AU 55. S-P46; KM-31a; CT-897. 26.51 grams. Choice grade for this chunky type (extra-thick slab), with nice full pillars-and-waves (slightly doubled), full but cruder cross with clear second date, light sediment on fields. NGC #4721779-003. g051904191075 $595
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1740M. S-P47; KM-31a; CT-901. 27.28 grams. VF with dark brown toning and encrustation, bold date above full waves, second date below nearly full cross, three assayers, Fine. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1740M. S-P47; KM-31a; CT-901. 27.28 grams. VF with dark brown toning and encrustation, bold date above full waves, second date below nearly full cross, three assayers, Fine. g051904191107 $240
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1739M. Chunky AVF with two dates visible, doubled pillars yet clear date and assayer, darkly toned full cross. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1739M. Chunky AVF with two dates visible, doubled pillars yet clear date and assayer, darkly toned full cross. g051904191108 $195
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754C+q. S-P53; KM-40; CT-371. 26.31 grams. Full pillars-and-waves with clear date and both assayers (one C, one q) and mintmarks, off-center cross with second date below and what looks like C/q to right, bold (FERD)INANDVS in legend, chunky XF with light toning on fields (dark area near edge on cross side). Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1754C+q. S-P53; KM-40; CT-371. 26.31 grams. Full pillars-and-waves with clear date and both assayers (one C, one q) and mintmarks, off-center cross with second date below and what looks like C/q to right, bold (FERD)INANDVS in legend, chunky XF with light toning on fields (dark area near edge on cross side). g051904191077 $295
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1758q. Rather chunky AVF with rather bold pillars side, complete date, mintmark, and assayer, partial cross with dark toning and encrustation. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1758q. Rather chunky AVF with rather bold pillars side, complete date, mintmark, and assayer, partial cross with dark toning and encrustation. g051904191110 $225
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1737E, NGC AU details / cleaned. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1760V-Y. Irregularly shaped VF, clear date between pillars, partial yet bold cross. g051904191111 $225
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1766V-Y. VF, especially bold pillar side with clear date and assayer, some encrustation all over, partial cross with clear date below. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1766V-Y. VF, especially bold pillar side with clear date and assayer, some encrustation all over, partial cross with clear date below. g051904191112 $245
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1771V-Y. AVF, mostly complete pillars with clear date, bold and almost complete cross, somewhat darkly toned. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1771V-Y. AVF, mostly complete pillars with clear date, bold and almost complete cross, somewhat darkly toned. g051904191113 $245

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Pillars-and-waves 8 reales with countermarks

Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1670E, with "Golden Fleece" countermark (Brabant, Spanish Netherlands, 48 patards, 1652-1672) on cross side, rare. S-P37b; KM-26; CT-345. 26.50 grams. Choice high grade (AU), with luster, the countermark (MS) unusually complete, some flat areas but with full crown and bold CARO of king's name, latest-date host we have ever seen for this curious Brabant issue that was enacted in response to the Potosi mint scandal and transition of 1652. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 8 reales, 1670E, with "Golden Fleece" countermark (Brabant, Spanish Netherlands, 48 patards, 1652-1672) on cross side, rare. S-P37b; KM-26; CT-345. 26.50 grams. Choice high grade (AU), with luster, the countermark (MS) unusually complete, some flat areas but with full crown and bold CARO of king's name, latest-date host we have ever seen for this curious Brabant issue that was enacted in response to the Potosi mint scandal and transition of 1652. g051904191186 $975

Pillars-and-waves 4 reales

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 Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales Royal (Galano), 1683V, extremely rare, PCGS XF detail. S-P39; KM-unl (R25 for Type); CT-486. 13.25 grams. Broad flan with full details including legends, choice per the period, with deep, contrasting toning, plugged and expertly repaired hole in crown above pillars (very hard to detect), first example of this date and denomination we have seen (probably unique) and much better-looking than any of the other Charles II Potosi 4R Royals we have offered. PCGS #36259163. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales Royal (Galano), 1683V, extremely rare, PCGS XF detail. S-P39; KM-unl (R25 for Type); CT-486. 13.25 grams. Broad flan with full details including legends, choice per the period, with deep, contrasting toning, plugged and expertly repaired hole in crown above pillars (very hard to detect), first example of this date and denomination we have seen (probably unique) and much better-looking than any of the other Charles II Potosi 4R Royals we have offered. PCGS #36259163. g121813030002 $7,950
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 4 reales, 1773V-(Y), rare final year of cobs. Very chunky flan with crude but well-centered pillars and cross, bold date, Fine. g011904690003 $495

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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, 1686VR. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1686VR. 5.96 grams. VF, mostly dark toned, wide and thin planchet, bold details with two dates visible. g101804231017 $195
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1733E. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1733E. 5.16 grams. Fine, full date below cross and two partial dates on pillars side, dark toning in crevices. g121804671286 $95
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1748q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 2 reales, 1748q. 6.95 grams. AU, patchy dark toning and some encrustation from being a hoard coin, bold design. g091818101015 $90
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 $75
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1717Y. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1717Y. 2.24 grams. aVF, off-center strike, rather bold details, dark toning in fields. g121804671284 $35
Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1750q. Potosi, Bolivia, cob 1 real, 1750q. 3.29 grams. Dark VF, two dates. g121804671285 $40

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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
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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