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Ferdinand VI 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
Philip V died in July 1746 and Ferdinand VI took the throne, but this news did not reach the Mexico City mint until 1747. Thus, all coins from 1746 are in the name of Philip, and coins with both names appear in 1747.
M-05-21 10152 1747 M   N FRD VI
   Less common date and type. At least one reverse die shared with M-05-20 (the posthumous issue for Philip V).
M-05-21a 10151 1747/6 M   RRR one year OD, 2 pellets after obverse R
  Extremely rare variety, only one die pair observed. Gilboy, however, notes it as 'rare'.
M-05-22  10158  1748 M   C  
  Common date. Numerous fakes observed.
M-05-22a (10157) 1748/7 M   S one year OD
  halfreal image 10 Relatively common overdate, with many different reverse dies. Some sharing of obverse dies with M-05-22. Cayon lists this variety as also being FRD/PHS, but this has not been observed.
(M-05-22u)  -  1748 M   RRR No pellet to right of date
  Variety unlisted in references. Similar to M-05-19a. Two die pairs observed. 
M-05-23  10165 1749 M   C  
  Common date. No listed or observed varieties for year.
M-05-24  10170 1750 M   C  
  Common date.
M-05-24a - 1750 M   RR Knobs on crowns flanking globes
  Gilboy lists this variety as 'rare'. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-25  10177 1751 M   C  
  Common date. No listed or observed varieties for year. 
M-05-26 10185 1752 M   C  
  Common date, 30 die pairs observed. Gilboy lists this date as 'less common'. No listed or observed varieties.
M-05-27  10192 1753 M   C  
  The most common date of Ferdinand VI half reales, over 40 die pairs observed. Some dies show repunched 3/3 in date.
M-05-27a - 1753/1 M   RRRR two year OD
   Very rare variety. Difficult to distinguish 3/1.
(M-05-27u) - 1753 M   RRRR no pellet between VI and D
  Variety not noted in references. One cdie pair observed.
(M-05-27v) - 1753/2 M   RRRR one year OD
   Very rare variety. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-28 10199 1754 M   C  
   Very common date, over 40 die pairs observed.
M-05-28u - 1754/3 M   RRRR one year OD
   Very rare variety. One die pair observed, need better example to confirm.
M-05-29 10208 1755 M   C  
   Common date. Two obversed strongly clashed reverse dies. Numerous fakes observed.
(M-05-29u) - 1755/6 M   R one year revese OD
  halfreal image 11  Unusual reverse OD, only occurrence in series. Noted in SCWC but not in Gilboy. Only two die pairs observed. Gilboy may have classified this OD as 1756/5.
M-05-30 10215 1756 M   N  
  Scarce date.  
M-05-30a 10214 1756/5 M   (R) one year OD
M-05-31 10223 1757 M   C both pillar crowns royal
  halfreal image 12  Common date. To left is example of royal crown, which up to this date was placed ontop both reverse pillars.
M-05-31a 10222 1757/6 M   N one year OD, both pillar crowns royal
  halfreal image 13 Very common overdate, ten die pairs observed.
(M-05-31u) - 1757/47 M   S decade OD
  halfreal image 14  Not noted in references. Two reverse dies observed. A case could be made that one of the dies (shown) is merely cracked and rusted, giving the appearance of 5/4.
M-05-32 10224 1757 M   S left pillar crown imperial
  halfreal image 15 Gilboy notes this variety as common. Four die pairs observed. To left is example of early-style imperial crown.
M-05-33 10230 1758 M   (R) both pillar crowns royal
   Gilboy notes this variety as rare. No observed examples.
M-05-34 10232 1758 M   C left pillar crown imperial
   Common date.
M-05-34a 10231 1758/7 M   S one year OD
   Scarce variety. One obverse die shared with M-05-34.
M-05-35 10241 1759 M   C  
   Common date. No listed or observed varieties. From this year onward, imperial crown (see photo insert at M-05-32) tops left pillar in all examples.


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+