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The Assayer of the Mexico City Mint during the 16th Century Pillars Coinage, - Late Series, Assayers G, R and A.

by Jorge A. Proctor

A new series of coins known today as the Late Series or the pillars and waves design started to be minted in 1542 under assayer Juan Gutiérrez. As an added modification by Viceregal order of 28 June 1542 for the mintage of copper maravedí coins in Mexico, a lower-case “o” was directed to be added above the M mintmark, as a supplementary mark. Although the M–alone mintmark continued concurrently with the new one, as demonstrated by coins minted after 1542 T. Dasí, Estudio de los Reales de a Ocho (Valencia, Spain, 1950), Vol. I, p. CCXXIII, No. 263. A Viceregal order from Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza, dated in Mexico on 28 June 1542, ordered the mintage of 12,000 marcos in copper coins (or, as the document states: “bellón sin ley de moneda”). Among their design, it includes the use of the Mo mintmark variation for the first time, saying that the coins should have: “...una M devajo con una O encima del nombre de Mexico...” ” .

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Two 4 reales coins from Mexico’s assayer G. Juan Gutiérrez, minted between 1542 and 1548. The coin to the left includes
the addition of the lower-case “o” above the M (M), as mandated by the Viceregal order of 28 June 1542, whereas on the
coin to the right, the M–alone mintmark remained unaltered. The use of both mintmarks continued concurrently with
each other until the coins with the new design, mandated by the decree of 8 March 1570, were minted.
(Images courtesy of Bowers and Merena Auctions)

The City Council of Mexico, by 28 November 1542, had heard news of Spain’s plan to institute a comprehensive administrative reform for its New World colonies, known today as the New Laws of 1542, for which they gave a commission to Francisco de Loaiza, Oidor of the Audiencia, and to Pedro Almindez Cherino, Overseer of Smelting (Veedor de Fundiciones), so that they could travel to Spain to react against Spain’s new reformG. Porras Muñoz, La Fusión de la Factoría y la Veeduría de la Real Hacienda de México. in Memorias del III Congreso de Historia del Derecho Mexicano. México 1984, pp. 535-536; S. Méndez Arceo, La Real y Pontificia Universidad de México: antecedentes, tramitación y despacho de las reales cédulas de erección. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Coordinación de Humanidades, Centro de Estudios Sobre la Universidad, 1990, pp. 80-81. . The new laws, designed to ensure fairer treatment for the Indians, while weakening the King’s more ambitious Spanish subjects, were in fact enacted, sparking serious resentment when the colonial authorities were notified.

In 1543, it seems that Juan Gutiérrez’s most recent tenure was coming to an end, for which Francisco de Loaiza, prior to his departure for SpainMéndez Arceo (op. cit., n. 2). Francisco de Loaiza arrived in Spain in November 1543. and while still holding the power of attorney to lease the office on behalf of Pedro de la Membrilla, attempted to lease the office to Francisco del Rincón, most likely the cousin of the first assayer by the same nameA. F. Pradeau, Don Antonio de Mendoza y la Casa de Moneda de México en 1543. Documentos inéditos publicados con prólogo y notas. Biblioteca Histórica Mexicana de Obras Inéditas No. 23, México, Antigua Librería Robredo, 1953, pp. 90-95; Archivo Genera de Indias (“AGI”), Justicia, 277, N.5.. The lease given to Juan Gutiérrez on 17 January 1543, with Alonso de Villaseca as his trustee, explains that the initial intent was to give this lease to a Francisco del Rincón. But, since the Viceroy of New Spain and the Treasurer of the mint did not approve him for this office, it was instead being given to Juan Gutiérrez, as not to leave the office vacant. At no point does the document say that these are events taking place in 1538. What has created this confusion is that as part of the legal process, Licentiate Francisco de Loaiza presented a copy, verbatim, of his 1538 power of attorney, and the rest is history. . But this was not to be, as, according to Loaiza, the Viceroy of New Spain and the Treasurer of the mint rejected this lease, saying that they would not accept Francisco del Rincón for that office. No explanation is given for the rejection, but if we are talking about the cousin of the first assayer, this could have simply been due to a perceived inexperience in his skillI say that his inexperience might have just been a perception of the Viceroy’s and Treasurer’s, as Francisco del Rincón, the cousin of the first assayer, had previously served as smelter of the mint, serving side-by-side with his cousin, and could have very well had the required skills and knowledge to serve as assayer himself. For more on this see Pradeau (op. cit., n. 4) . At the end, Francisco de Loaiza, saying that he did not want to leave the office vacant, agreed on 17 January 1543 to give the lease again to Juan Gutiérrez, for a period of two years to begin on 1 August 1543.

With the departure of Francisco de Loaiza from Mexico, a new representative had to be selected. This responsibility now fell on the newly appointed Oidor of the Mexican Audiencia Licentiate Hernando Gómez de SantillánR. Martínez Baracs, Convivencia y utopia. El gobierno indio y español de la ‘’ciudad de Mechuacan’’ 1521-1580. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005, p. 253; M. León-Portilla, Códice de Coyacán – Nómina de Tributos, siglo XVI; Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl, Volumen IX, 1971, publicación eventual del Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, p. 63; AGI: Contratación, 5787, N. 1, L. 4, F. 123r-124r. Hernando Gómez de Santillán was appointed on 1 March 1543 as replacement for another Oidor, Alonso Maldonado. , who, like his predecessor had done, under a new power of attorney drafted on 29 September 1543 in Valladolid, could appoint someone to this office, or, as an added provision, sell the office outrightGómez de Santillán (erroneously called Rodrigo) was previously thought to be assayer S. It seems that since Gómez de Santillán was given a power of attorney similar to that given to Francisco de Loaiza at an earlier date, it was believed that he could have worked the office himself, temporarily, while making the proper arrangements to transfer the office back to assayer G. But, not only do the coins of assayer S demonstrate that they were minted much later than previously believed, but Gómez de Santillán was a government official executing specific judicial duties and not a mint employee or an assayer for that matter. .

With this power of attorney in hand Gómez de Santillán retained Juan Gutiérrez under lease, that is until a sale contract for 1,500 Pesos in mined gold (Oro de Minas)The Oro de Minas was worth 450 maravedis per peso, whereas each ducat was equivalent to 375 maravedis. This makes 1,500 pesos in Oro de Minas equivalent to 1,800 ducats. , was initiated on 22 April 1544Pradeau (op. cit., n. 4), pp. 99-103; AGI, (op. cit., n. 4.) , with Juan Gutiérrez, as the primary holder, and Alonso de VillasecaAlonso de Villaseca, as Juan Gutiérrez’s trustee at the moment that the office was bought, had previously been proposed as a possible candidate for assayer A. But, not only does the Tello de Sandoval investigation clearly dismiss this idea, describing Alonso de Villaseca as a merchant who was bringing silver to the mint, but new information now shows that Juan Gutiérrez later called on his brother Alonso Gutiérrez, so that he could take on the post of assayer. , as his trustee (fiador). As part of this sale contract Juan Gutiérrez and Alonso de Villaseca paid in silver a deposit valued at 750 Pesos worth of the mined gold, for which Gutiérre Velázquez would then guarantee that he would send to Mexico, within a two-year time, the provision signed by the King naming Juan Gutiérrez as the owner of the office, or, if for some reason he was not approved for this office, he would then give him his deposit back. As an added provision of the sale, Juan Gutiérrez was told that while the provision was being signed the office would remain in the name of Pedro de la Membrilla and his administrator, Gutiérre Vélazquez, but that he would still be allowed to continue working the office without having to pay any rent.

Now, as this was going on in Mexico in 1544, in Spain the former first assayer of the mint, Francisco del Rincón, appeared before Gutiérre Velazquez and persuaded him to sell the office of assayer and smelter owned by his son, Pedro de la Membrilla, for 550 ducats, claiming that it was not worth more than that, and that no one in Mexico would be willing to buy itAGI: Justicia, 1008. This document states: “…francisco del rrincon vecino dela dicha çiudad de mexico vino al dicho mi parte a le persuadír que le vendiese el dicho ofíçío de fundídor y ensayador y afirmandole que no avía alla quien le comprase y que no valía mas de quinientos y çinquenta ducados…” AGI, México. 169. N. 6. Letter to the King from Gutiérre Velázquez, on behalf of his son, renouncing the post of assayer and smelter and requesting that this be transferred to Francisco del Rincón. Although this letter is undated, it is clearly drafted in connection with the 1544 sale, to ensure the issuance of the new title in Francisco del Rincón’s name; event which we know to have taken place on 21 March 1544. . But once news of the sale in Mexico arrived back in Spain, Gutiérre Velásquez realized that Francisco del Rincón had deceived him. In fact, Gutiérre Velásquez no longer had the title, which had already been transferred to Francisco del Rincón on 21 March 1544R. I. Nesmith, The Coinage of the First Mint of the Americas at Mexico City 1536- 1572, Reprint of original published in 1955 by the American Numismatic Society as Numismatic Notes and Monographs #131, Rockville Centre, NY, 2001, pp. 18-19 (and footnote 27); Colección de Documentos Inéditos Relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista y Organización de las Antiguas Posesiones Españolas de Ultramar, Segunda Series publicada por acuerdo de la Real Academia de la Historia, Tomo XVIII, V Consejo de Indias, Madrid, Spain, 1925, p. 65. Nesmith, who is said to have found the date of purchase of the office by Francisco del Rincón in the General Index of the papers in the Library of the Royal Academy of History, Madrid, Spain, erroneously documented this as occurring in 1543. In fact I have been able to examine the original of this General Index and the correct year is 1544. This is something that had been correctly published in 1925, when the Academy published its Index as part of the Colección de Documentos Inéditos Relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista y Organización de las Antiguas Posesiones Españolas de Ultramar. The entry on the original of this Index, which corresponds to document 9/5705, f. 353v, states the following: (right margin) “1544” - (text): “A pedro de la Membrilla hijo del licenciado Gutierre Velasquez del Consejo se dio el oficio de ensayador y fundidor de la Casa de la moneda de Mexico el qual le renuncio en francisco del Rincon aquien se dio titulo a 21 de Março., and if he wanted to do business with Juan Gutiérrez, he now needed to first have the sale to Francisco del Rincón annulled and the title transferred back to his son, Pedro de la Membrilla.

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Renunciation of the offi ce of assayer and smelter by Gutiérre Velazquez, on behalf of his son, Pedro de
la Membrilla, to Francisco del Rincón: (Right margin) “1544” Transcript of central text: “A pedro de la
Membrilla hijo del licenciado Gutiérre Velasquez del Consejo se dio el ofi cio de ensayador y fundidor de
la Casa de la moneda de Mexico el qual le renuncio en francisco del Rincon aquien se dio titulo a 21 de Março.”
Source: Document 9/5705, f. 353v - General Index of the papers of the Council of the Indies, Library of
the Royal Academy of History, Madrid, Spain.

Based on the erroneous statement that Francisco del Rincón had purchased the office of assayer and smelter on 21 March 1543 (the correct year is 1544), the appearance of coins with an assayer mark R in Mexico around this time prompted some to attribute this mark to Francisco del Rincón (the first assayer of the mint), and others to his brother Alonso del Rincón, serving as his lieutenantKent Ponterio (personal communication, 2 September 2014). With no contemporary source that provides the year of mintage of the assayer R coins, I have relied on the direct observations of numismatic expert Kent Ponterio, to tentatively place their year of mintage in 1544. Kent Ponterio, who has studied these coins for many years, shared the following observations: “generally the crown used on top of the pillars for most R coinage is not used for A. The crowns are similar to some of the coins that fit into the middle of the late series G coinage.” Also: “stylistically the coins of R fit into a similar era as those of assayer A, but the planchet manufacture is not as good. In my opinion, the peak of planchet manufacture occurs during the time of the Tello de Sandoval investigation. This is when you get really well-made coins on fully round and broad planchets.” Taking Kent Ponterio’s observation, I immediately narrowed down the years of production to somewhere between 1542 and 1545, or somewhere between the times when the pillars and waves design started to be minted and the start of the Tello de Sandoval investigation. Furthermore, the difference in design in the crown above the pillars between the coins of assayer R and those of assayer A, further helped to narrow down their date of mintage. Since this is a die-sinker variation, and we know that Francisco del Rincón replaced his cousin Alonso as die-sinker in February of 1545, and he was still serving as diesinker at the time that the coins of assayer A were minted; therefore, I suggest that the dies for assayer R could have been produced during the tenure of Alonso del Rincón (1542-1545), which might explain the difference. Now, since Kent Ponterio also noticed that the coins of assayer R fit around the middle of assayer G’s tenure, and that their style is similar in era to that of assayer A, then we can say that the dies for assayer R must then have been produced during the later years of work of diesinker Alonso del Rincón. Now, since the Tello de Sandoval investigation mentions that Juan Gutiérrez, serving as assayer, was present at the mint on 9 August 1544 and 17 February 1545, and we also know that the transfer of the office of die-sinker from Alonso del Rincón to his cousin Francisco took place in February 1545, then I suggest that assayer R might have worked sometime between August 1544 and February 1545. Kent Ponterio (personal communication, 1 September 2014). It should also be noted that the existence of 4 reales with L over R (over assayer-mark) have been documented. At this time this appears to be more of a curious anomaly, rather than anything else. As Kent Ponterio explains: “…it is one sole die that was recut by assayer L (i.e. sort of a one-off , although 4-5 examples exist.)” . But, the shift in years from 1543 to 1544 has now made this attribution questionable. With Francisco del Rincón (the first assayer) remaining in Spain after the 1544 sale, at which time Alonso del Rincón, his brother, was exercising the post of die-sinker at the mint in Mexico, a fact that is fully documented in the Tello de Sandoval investigation of 1545, then the possibility remains that the identity of this assayer could then be that of Francisco del Rincón (their cousin) Nesmith (op. cit., n. 12), p. 25 (and footnote 44a). According to Nesmith, there was evidence that Francisco del Rincón was in Chachapoyas, Peru, in December 1544. Nesmith states that this conclusion is based on a document from the Harkness Collection, Library of Congress, manuscripts Nos. II95 and II96, where he said that: “(t)he signature on this document is identical with that of del Rincón on the TSI [Tello de Sandoval Investigation] papers.” If true, it would not have been possible for Francisco del Rincón to have served as the Mexican assayer R at virtually the same time. But comparison of the signature of Francisco del Rincón from the Harkness Collection Peruvian document with the signature of Francisco del Rincón (the Mexican Mint official) from the Tello de Sandoval investigation, just six months later, conclusively establishes that they are not
the same person. The “Francisco del Rincón” working as the manager of mines in Peru in 1544 is not our Mexican die-sinker and perhaps assayer. We present the two signatures side-by-side for comparison. Careful inspections show that every letter is formed differently in the two signatures. Look especially at the F’s and R’s and the word “del”. The superscript above “Fran” resembles a (sloppily drawn) mathematical symbol for infinity on the Peruvian signature, while our Francisco executes a tight, sharp “co”. The elaborate flourishes to the left and right of the signature, which writers of this period practiced to deter the forging of their name, do not resemble one another at all.
. Although Francisco had been denied the post in 1543, his character had not come into question since he remained as a mint employee. By 1544 whatever objections prevented him from being ratified by the Treasurer and the Viceroy in 1543 might have been resolved, or it might just be that as a temporary replacement for Juan Gutiérrez, conceivably due to illness, his ability might have been considered good enough. In any case, with the current documentary evidence not providing any further clues to help confirm the identity of this official, I will retain Francisco del Rincón (the cousin of the first assayer) as a possible candidate.

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Late Series 4 reales coin minted in Mexico with the mark of assayer R
(Coin images courtesy of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC)

On 4 December 1544 Gutiérre Velázquez, acting as the administrative representative of his son Pedro de la Membrilla, presented a complaint through Sebastián RodríguezAGI: Justicia, (op. cit., n. 11). The letter from Gutiérre Vélazquez procuring the services of Sebastián Rodríguez is dated in Valladolid on 3 December 1544. , Solicitor in the Council of the Indies (Solicitador en el Consejo de las Indias), claiming that although Francisco del Rincón had already paid 400 ducats of the 550 initially agreed upon under the premise that no one would pay more for it, he had now been made aware that the office was really worth 1,800 ducatsThis was equivalent to the 1,500 pesos in Oro de Minas that Juan Gutiérrez had agreed to pay for this office. (For more on this see endnote no. 8.) , which clearly showed that the purchase had been done through fraud and deceit. On the same day a copy of Gutiérre Velázquez’ complaint was presented before the court, which ruled in favor of Pedro de la Membrilla. With this ruling, on 5 December, Prince Philip (Felipe), as Regent and on behalf of his father King Charles I of SpainArchivo General de Simancas (“AGS”): PTR, Leg. 26, Docs. 67-78 and 83-88. Departing Spain in 1543, King Charles I of Spain named his son Prince Philip as his Spanish Regent under orders signed in Barcelona on 1 May 1543. Philip, the future king of Spain, remained as Regent between 1543 and 1548. , ordered that this decision be presented to Francisco del Rincón, who, from the date that he was made aware of it, directly or indirectly, was given 15 days to appear before the Council of the Indies in person or by proxy to present his arguments. As part of this ruling, Francisco del Rincón was given the option to take his deposit back from Diego de la Haya, Purser (Cambio) of the Court, and return the title that had been given to him, or to pay the additional money owed to bring the sale price now to the 1,800 ducats, the amount that the office was said to be worth. Failure to comply with the mandate to appear before the Council would result in the loss of his rights and the title to this officeAGI: Justicia, (op. cit., n. 11) .

The King’s scribe, Juan de Lezcano, by request of Juan Lobo on behalf of Gutiérre Velázquez, found Francisco del Rincón in Seville on 16 December, and served him with the summons in person. But by 2 January 1545 no answer had been received, so on 7 January del Rincón’s default was registered in ValladolidAGI, (ibid, n. 18) ) and with the case closed, Pedro de la Membrilla received the office back a month later, on 7 FebruaryColección de Documentos Inéditos Relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista, y Organización de las Antiguas Posesiones Españolas de Ultramar, (op. cit., n. 12), p. 66; Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia, Índice General de los Papeles del Consejo de Indias, document 9/5705, f. 353v. The entry on the original of the General Index of the papers in the Library of the Royal Academy of History, Madrid, Spain, states the following: (right margin) “1545” - (text): “El oficio de Ensayador y fundidor q el licenciado Gutierre Velasquez renuncio d Pedro de la Membrilla su hijo en francisco del Rincon este le bolvio a renunciar en el dicho Pedro de la Membrilla al qual se dio titulo a 7 de febrero y luego el dicho lic. Gutierre Velasquez le bolvio a renunciar en Juan Gutierrez y se le dio titulo a 22 de febrero.”.

With the office now back in the hands of Pedro de la Membrilla, Gutiérre Vélazquez completed the sale to Juan Gutiérrez by transferring the office to its new owner. Juan Gutiérrez was ratified on 22 February 1545Colección de Documentos Inéditos Relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista, y Organización de las Antiguas Posesiones Españolas de Ultramar, (op. cit., n. 12); Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia, (ibid, n. 20). The entry in the Colección de Documentos Inéditos Relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista, y Organización de las Antiguas Posesiones Españolas de Ultramar, when compared to the original, has one error in that it should say 22 February, rather than 20. . But with slow communication between Spain and the Indies, we know that news of the ratification of this sale in Spain had not yet been received in Mexico by the time of the Tello de Sandoval investigation, as between 27 May and 15 July 1545, this office was still being reported as owned by Gutiérre Velazquez or his son, Pedro de la MembrillaPradeau (op. cit., n. 4), p. 53; AGI, (op. cit., n. 4). During the Tello de Sandoval investigation, the following was recorded: “El (ofiçio de ensayador de la dicha casa / dixo que es del licenciado gutierre velazquez /o de su hijo / E que al presente . lo usa Juan gutierrez Ensayador por Renunçiaçion q en el hizo El liçenciado gomez de santillana /oydor desta Real abdiencia en nonbre y con poder del dicho licenciado gutíerrez Valazquez E q prímero antes de la dicha Renunçíaçion lo tubo por aRendamiento el dicho Juan gutierrez…” (Transcript from the original.) .

Juan Gutiérrez, as the owner of the post of assayer and smelter, had the right to appoint a lieutenant who could exercise the post on his behalf. But instead, he opted to continue working it himself. That is until, due to worsening indispositions (“yndispusiciones que tiene las quales se le an rrecrecido”), in late 1547 he realized that he needed help. Promptly, he sent a letter to Spain requesting for his brothers, Alonso Gutiérrez and Hernando de Peralta, to make the journey to Mexico so that they could assist him with the execution of the post of assayerAGI, Indiferente, 2048. N. 16. .

The letter arrived in Juan Gutiérrez’s hometown of Fuensalida (located near Toledo, Spain) around December 1547AGI, (ibid, n. 23) . Preparations were quickly made by Alonso to travel to the city of Seville, where he was to deliver a bill of exchange (una cédula de cambio) sent with the letter and addressed to Francisco Gómez, a merchant from the city of Seville, so that he could give Alonso 50 ducats to assist with the expenses in preparations for the journey.

On 8 April 1548, having returned from Seville, Alonso Gutiérrez appeared before Cristóbal López, the Municipal Magistrate (Alcalde Ordinario) at Fuensalida, where, in front of the Scribe, Juan Alonso, and some witnesses he pleaded for the required permit needed to obtain the license to travel to New Spain. But, unable to present, as evidence, the letter from Juan Gutiérrez, which Alonso had left in Seville, the magistrate opted to conduct an examination, interviewing witnesses, before granting approvalAGI, (ibid, n. 23) . At the end Alonso Gutiérrez did get his approval, receiving his license to travel to Mexico in Seville on 7 May 1548AGI: Indiferente, 1964, L. 10, F. 364r.
AGI, México 205. N. 27. Testimonies provided in this proceeding from early 1559 further confirm the arrival of Alonso Gutiérrez in Mexico around mid-1548, as one of the questions asked, for which a number of witnesses were able to confirm that it was true, was if they knew that it had been more than 22 years since Juan Gutiérrez had arrived in Mexico, and more than 10 years for Alonso Gutiérrez (this as of April 1559). To this, the original document states the following: “…dicho Juan gutierrez A mas de veynte y dos años que vino a esta nueva spaña y el dicho alonso gutierrez mas de diez…

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Image of the portion of the page from 7 May 1548 containing Alonso Gutiérrez’s license to travel to New
Spain. The text reads as follows: Left margin: “Alonso gutierrez” Central text: “I den otra Para pasar a la
nueva Spaña alonsso gutierrez vecino de fuensalida no siendo Casado obligandose”
(Source: AGI: Indiferente, 1964, L. 10, F. 364R)

Although the date of Alonso’s arrival in Mexico is currently not known, the appearance of coins in Mexico with an assayer-mark A at this precise time seems to indicate that his departure took place shortly after receiving his license; after all, the sole purpose of his trip was to assist his brother by taking on the post of assayerJ. Olivella Gener, Karolvs et Iohana. Carlos y Juana. La Ceca de México 1536-1557, 2010, pp. 8 and 46, available at: It is important to mention that Mr. Joan Olivella in 2010 proposed that assayer A could be Alonso Gutiérrez, saying: “I believe that the letter ‘A’ corresponds to Alonso Gutiérrez, brother of Juan Gutiérrez… According to the document ES.41091.
AGI/1.16403.13.205//MEXICO,205,N.27 from the General Archive of the Indies, it describes that Alonso Gutiérrez took the office by resignation of his brother Juan Gutiérrez, more than twenty days before he died.” (“Yo creo que la letra ‘A’ corresponde a Alonso Gutiérrez, hermano de Juan Gutiérrez…Según el documento ES.41091.AGI/1.16403.13.205//MEXICO,205,N.27 del Archivo General de Indias, se describe que Alonso Gutiérrez asume el cargo por renuncia de su hermano Juan Gutiérrez más de veinte días antes de morir.”) But, Mr. Olivella, who at the time only transcribed small portions of the front page of this 1559 document, had hoped that this document would be the key to unlocking this mystery; a fact that he acknowledged by saying: “with time and patience this transcript will be finished, and we will see if the office of assayer and smelter was awarded to him.” (“Con tiempo y paciencia se acabará esta trascripción, y veremos si se le concedió el oficio de Ensayador y de Fundidor”) In fact, this is not the case as the document mentioned by Mr. Olivella has nothing to do with the office of assayer, and only pertains to the office of smelter, which was the only office still being held by Juan Gutiérrez at the moment of his death.

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Late Series 4 reales coin minted in Mexico with the mark of assayer A
Coin image courtesy of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC)

The involvement of assayer A should have been the solution so eagerly awaited by Juan Gutiérrez. But this was not to be the case. New unforeseen complications (“justos ynpedimientos”) arose shortly after, and Juan Gutiérrez was left with no other choice than to renounce the office of assayer in favor of a more capable individual. And so it was that on 2 November 1548 Juan Gutiérrez initiates the transfer of the post of assayer in favor of Luis Rodríguez, a silversmith (platero) from Mexico and former assistant assayer at the foundryAGI: México, 209, N. 58. A portion of Esteban Franco’s testimony, dated 14 January 1568, states: “…luis Rodriguez estubo en compañia deste testigo en la casa de la fundiçion desta çiudad de mexico donde le ayudava y hera y heran Conpañeros y despues a thenydo el oficio de la casa de la moneda desta çiudad sirbiendo en ella de ensaydor e a puesto thenyente por sus enfermedades…, while still keeping the post of smelter under his control. Unknown at the time, the split of the posts of assayer and smelter into two separate offices would come into question at a later date, as it was said that these were considered one joint office, and not two separate ones.

Initial Name Began on Left office on
R Francisco del Rincón (?)
(cousin of first assayer)
Probably in late 1544 (?)  Probably in late 1544 or early 1545 (?)
• Owner of the office: Juan Gutiérrez.
• Very brief interim replacement for assayer G, probably in late 1544 (?).
A Alonso Gutiérrez Fall of 1548 Before 8 Nov. 1548
• Owner of the office: Juan Gutiérrez.
• Arrives from Spain in the Fall of 1548 to assist his brother Juan.