Translate / Traducir

Charles III half reales 

 by Brad Yonaka


The milled columnario half real is one of five denominations of silver coinage produced by the Mexico City mint from 1732 to 1771. It was the smallest silver coin for its time from that mint, the quarter real only being struck for the first time in 1796. The milled half real was preceded by cob coinage (which overlaps to 1733), and followed by portrait-type milled coinage in 1772. The famous and symbolic pillar and globe design makes it highly collectible, at least as a type coin. Despite this, there is little information on mintages and an incomplete accounting of major varieties for the forty year span of issue.

In general, it can be said that production of half reales was for the most part stable, but fluctuated over periods of five or more years. An early pulse of mintage from 1734 to 1740 was followed by less production from 1741-1745. Then a period of increasing mintage from 1746-1758 (with the stark exception of 1756) and gradual decrease to very low mintages in 1766. Thereafter occurred another gradual increase to the end of the series.
The following table was compliled by Brad Yonaka.

The alpha-numeric sequence assigned to each type is per the system created by GilboyFrank F. Gilboy, The Milled Columnarios of Central and South America. Regina, Canada: Prairie Wind Publishing, Inc., 1999.), as this is by far the most comprehensive of all references. Cases where Gilboy) does not report the variety, I have assigned suffixes starting with the letter u, v, etc, and show the number sequence in red. I also show (where applicable) the number assigned by Cayon Adolfo Cayon, Clemente Cayon, and Juan Cayon, Las Monedas Espanoles Volumen I – Del tremis al euro. Madrid, Spain: Cayon-Jano S.L., 2005.

Rarity is taken from personal data on abundance of specimens. In most cases it correlates well with Gilboy in a relative sense, given that his database must have been many times larger. Where Brad Yonaka has not observed the variety, rarity is per that of Gilboy.

Gilboy # or (added) Cayon# Date Assayer's
Rarity* Variety
Ferdinand VI died in July 1759 and Carlos III took the Spanish throne. The Mexico City mint, however, continued to strike coins in the name of Ferdinand throught the end of 1759 and the first part of 1760.
M-05-36 10248 1760 M   N FRD VI
  Relatively uncommon date
 M-05-36a 10247 1760/59 M   RRR FRD VI, one year OD
   Gilboy notes this OD as very rare. One example observed, though OD was not noted in auction description.     
 M-05-37 11030 1760 M   CAR III
   Similar abundance to M-05-36     
 M-05-37a 11029 1760/59   RRR  CAR III, one year OD
  halfreal image 16 Extremely rare OD. Only one die pair observed.
 (M-05-37u)  - 1760/50? M   RR CAR III, decade OD 
  halfreal image 17 Unusual decade OD, showing a great deal of crude die reworking, resulting in a deeply repunched and poorly executed date, the only time I have seen this happen in the series. One die pair observed.
 M-05-38 11039  1761  M   N early style imperial crown on left pillar
  Common date.
M-05-38a 11038 1761/0 M   RRR one year OD, A intrudes crown
  Very rare overdate, only one die pair observed.
M-05-38b 11039 1761 M   N late style imperial crown on left pillar
  halfreal image 18  Scarce variety. During 1761 the imperial crown on the left pillar was redesigned (see example on left), with the old design lingering on examples into 1762. Cayon does not distinguish this design change.
M-05-39 11046 1762 M   C large 2 in date
  One of the most common dates for Carlos III. The 2 in the date may have come from the punch set for the one real. Cayon does not distinguish the A and V overlap variety.      
M-05-39a 11046 1762 M   N A and V intrude reverse pillar crowns
  halfreal image 19 Reverse legend shifted closer to central design elements, causing both the A and V to overlap the pillar crowns. Also width of denticled border increases, which is generally the case through the end of the series.
M-05-39b 11046 1762 M   (R) early style imperial crown on left pillar
  Gilboy notes this variety as rare. No observed examples.   
(M-05-39u) - 1762/1 M   RRRR one year OD
  Not noted in references. Only one die pair observed. Exhibits a 2 in date that appears to be of correct size for the denomination.   
M-05-40 11053 1763 M   C  
  Common date for Carlos III. One observed reverse die with pellet between 7 and 6 of date.      
M-05-40a 11052 1763/2 M   RR one year OD
  Very rare overdate, only one reverse die observed. V intrudes right pillar crown reverse.        
M-05-40b 11053 1763 M   RRRR A and V intrude reverse pillar crowns
  Very rare variety exhibiting both the A and V intruding reverse pillar crowns. Gilboy, however, notes this variety as 'scarce'.
M-05-41 11059 1764 M   C no pellet before CAR obverse
   Uncommon date for Carlos III. No listed varieties, several examples noted with pellet before CAR obverse (all others missing the pellet).     
M-05-42 11065 1765 M   N  
   Uncommon date. At least ne obverse die shared with 1764.     
(M-05-42u) 11065 1765 M   RR no pellet before CAR obverse
  Minor variety, not noted in references.      
(M-05-42v) - 1765/4 M   RRRR  
  halfreal image 20 Variety noted in SCWC, not in Gilboy. Clear overdate, slightly offset. One observed example.
M-05-43 11070 1766 M   S  
  Rare date, no listed or observed varieties
M-05-44 11074 1767 M   RR  
  Rare date.
(M-05-44u) - 1767 M   RRRR six petal florets in obverse fields
  Vary rare variety. Not noted in references. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-45 11081 1768 M   N  
  Uncommon date.
M-05-45a - 1768/7 M   R one year OD
  halfreal image 21 Noted as extremely rare by Gilboy. Can be difficult to differentiate between 8/7 and 8/6. Gilboy may have grouped most OD as 8/7, thus accounting for the high rarity he assigns to the 8/6. Only one reverse die observed, paired with two different obverse dies.
M-05-45b 11080 1768/6 M   RR two year OD
  Rare date, three die pairs observed.
M-05-46 11086 1769 M   N  
  Common date for Carlos III. No listed or observed varities.
M-05-47 11094 1770 M   C  
  The most common date and type for Carlos III. Several obverse dies exhibit a broken R punch. 
M-05-48 11095 1770 F   RR Assayer's initial changed from M to F
  Rare type for year. Several obverse dies exhibit a broken R punch.
M-05-49 11102 1771 F   C  
  Common date for Carlos III. Widest denticled border observed for series.


Rarity scale used, with the exception of those by Gilboy (shown in paratheses in table)

rarity Number of coins
RRR 2-3
RR 4-5
R 6-7
S 8-10
N 11-20
C 20+