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Philip V 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
 M-05-1var   1732      S  no assayer's initial
  Type struck without placing assayer initials or mintmark on coin. Gilboy postulates that this type was struck from trial matrices sent from Spain. A significant number of examples have been observed, many more than would be expected for a type considered to be extremely rare. The importance and novelty of the coin may explain why so many are preserved and have appeared in auction. Three of the obverse dies, and two reverse dies, are exhibited solely by examples residing in the Banco de Mexico collection.
M-05-1 8229 1732 F   (R5) chief assayer's initial only
  ype not observed. Gilboy classifies type as extremely rare.
M-05-2 8230 1732 MF   RRRR  
  One die pair observed. A curious variety, considering that the assayer M (Manuel de León) only began work at the mint in 1733.
M-05-3 8237 1733 F   (R5) chief assayer's initial only
  Type not observed. Gilboy classifies type as extremely rare.
M-05-4 8236 1733 F M-X (R5) MX mintmark, chief assayer's initial only
  Type not observed. Gilboy classifies type as extremely rare.
M-05-5 8239 1733 MF M·X N MX mintmark
  halfreal image 1 Most abundant type for year, with three different reverse dies observed. Gilboy rates these as much more rare than I have observed.
M-05-6 8240 1733 MF   RRRR  
  Only two die pairs observed. One of the obverse dies is shared with M-05-5.
(M-05-6u) - 1733/2 MF   RRR one year OD
  Type noted in SCWC, not in Gilboy. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-7 8246 1734 MF S    
  Abundant die pairs. Many well struck examples observed.
M-05-7a 8245 1734/3 MF   N None year OD
  halfreal image 2 Relatively common overdate, with many different reverse dies. Some sharing of obverse dies with M-05-7.
M-05-7b - 1734 MF   RRR cinquefoil below assayers' initials
  Very rare variety for year with only two die pairs observed.
M-05-8 8253 1735 MF   C  
  Common issue, with over 15 observed die pairs.
M-05-8a 8252 1735/4 MF   RRR one year OD
  halfreal image 3 Rare OD, only three die pairs observed.
(M-05-8u) - 1735/3 MF   RR two year OD
  Not noted in references. Rare OD, only two die pairs observed. Higher grade examples needed to confirm 5/3 designation.
M-05-9 8260 1736 MF   C  
  Most common date and type for Philip V.
 M-05-9a  8259  1736/5  MF    RRR one year OD
  halfreal image 4     Very rare OD, one die pair observed.
(M-05-9u) (8258) 1736 F   RRRR chief assayer's initial only
  halfreal image 5 Variety discussed by Gilboy in footnote as being exceedingly rare, but type is not listed in text of book. Must have been produced using obverse die from 1733. Cayon lists type as a 1736/3 OD, but this is not exhibited on only observed example, nor could the obverse die be matched with any known example from 1733. 
FM-05-10 8269 1737 MF   C  
(M-05-10u) 8268 1737/6 MF   RRRR one year OD
  Variety noted in SCWC and Cayon, not in Gilboy. Only one die pair observed.     
(M-05-10v} - 1737 MF   RRRR large F in assayer's initials
  Variety not noted in references. F punch may have been taken from set for one real dies. Commonly seen fake exists, all examples have been from same die pair.
M-05-11 8276 1738 MF   C  
  Common type, over 15 die pairs observed.     
M-05-11a - 1738/7 MF   RR one year OD
  halfreal image 6 Very rare variety. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-11b - 1738/5 MF   RRRR three year OD
  Very rare variety. Only one die pair observed.
M-05-11c - 1738 MF   RR cinquefoil below assayer's initials
  Rare variety, only two die pairs observed. Shares one reverse die with M-05-11.     
M-05-12 8282 1739 MF   C  
  Second most common type for Philip V. No obversed or listed varieties for this date. Some reverse dies show repunching of 7 and 3. Cayon notes variety with pellet between 3 and 9 (not observed).     
M-05-13 8289 1740 MF   C  
  Common date, over 15 die pairs observed.     
M-05-13a 8288 1740/30 MF   R decade OD
  halfreal image 7 Listed as extremely rare by Gilboy, but five die pairs observed  
(M-05-13u) - 1740/39 MF   RRR one year OD
  Unlisted in references, only one die pair observed. All examples have numerous die cracks.     
M-05-14 8294 1741 MF   C  
  No listed or observed varietites for this year.     
Beginning in 1742, coin obverse design changed, shortening legend and moving shield upward. Chief assayer initial moved to reverse, at right of date.
M-05-15 8298 1742 M   C  
  Common date.     
(M-05-15u) - 1742 M   RRR No pellet to right of date
  halfreal image 8 Unlisted in references, only one die pair observed. This design variety is, however, listed for 1746 (M-05-19a).     
M-05-16 8302 1743 M   N  
  Scarce date.     
(M-05-16u) - 1743/2 M   RRR one year OD
    Unlisted in references. Only one die pair observed. Difficult to see in lower grades, due to similarity of 3 and 2.
M-05-17 8307 1744 M   N  
  Relatively uncommon date
M-05-17a 8306 1744/3 M   S one year OD
  halfreal image 9 Rare overdate, only two die pairs observed.
M-05-18 8312 1745 M   C  
  Common date.
M-05-18a - 1745 M   (R) legend has EST IND instead of ET IND
  Variety listed in Gilboy, has not been observed.
M-05-19 8317 1746 M   C  
  Common date.
M-05-19a - 1746 M   R No pellet to right of date
  Very rare variety. Only one die pair observed. Gilboy, however, lists it as 'scarce'.
(M-05-19u) - 1746/5 M   N/A  
M-05-20 8321 1747 M   N PHS V
  Posthumous issue for Philip V. About same abundance as M-05-21. Less common date.


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+