Translate / Traducir

Eight Reales

sedwick image 54

Early Series Assayer R 8 Reales (Sedwick auction #16, Nov 2014, lot 404)
Sold for $587,500

 Three specimens of Assayer R 8 Reales were found in the Golden Fleece shipwreck in the early 1990s. Prior to that find the 8 reales were considered conjectural: They were known to have been made, but only for a short time and in very small numbers around two years after the mint opened in 1536, based on testimony in the investigation in 1545 by Francisco Tello de SandovalArchivo General de Indias, 48-2-20/2 as follows:

(1) On the first day of testimony on 27 May treasurer Juan de Manzanares stated that "in only a particular season (temporada) did they produce 8 reales, which they had to stop minting because production was very difficult and ·very costly ... A "'season" in this case was probably just that -- either spring or summer or fall or winter, but no more than a few months in any case.

(2) During the same day of testimony, assayer Juan Gutiérrez stated that he '"heard that 8 reales were minted but stopped because they were very defective and were not circulating ... He also said that in the six years that he had been there (i.e., since at least 1539), no 3 reales had been made, which is significant because the same decree that authorized 8 reales called for the end of 3-reales production.

(3) On the sixth day (5 June). die-sinker Francisco de Rincón (who was at the mint when the 8 reales were made, not to be confused with the assaycr of the same- name , who was his cousin) testified that "when the king's decree called for 4 and 8 reales lo be minted and 3 reales to be discontinued, those orders were followed" He also stated that the 8 reales were too much work for the cost involved.

(4) The most significant piece of testimony), on the ninth day (9 June), came from coiner and foreman Alonso Ponce., who was in the mint from the beginning and stated that for "a certain season" they minted 8 reales but ceased production "because they were difficult to make and engrave and this had generated a lot of discord" and that they were "not produced for many days."

Ir is clear from this testimony that 8 reales were made only briefly after the 3 reales were discontinued but before Rincón left office (since the assayer-mark on the coins is R). We know that Rincón worked as assayer at least until 1538. Since the 1537 royal decree permitting 8 reales and 4 reales in place of 3 reales probably arrived :at the mint in the spring of 1538, that is the year in which the 8 reales were believed to have been struck, for no more than a “season”. Of utmost importance is that the 8 reales were made in very small numbers, for a very limited time, and that they did not circulate.

The denomination is represented by a cross. No one knows why this was chosen although it is interesting to note that this type of cross is sometimes known as a “cruz de ocho puntas” (cross of eight points), therefore possibly representing the number 8 for natives and others who may not necessarily have understood Latin numerals, along the lines of dots and bars used in the other denominations, the exception being the number 4 for 4 reales, although the four points of that numeral may explain why that one number was deemed acceptable.