Spanish Colonial shipwreck coins source of of metal for modern 'cob' medals

Daniel Carr uses metal from 1622, 1715 shipwrecks
By , Coin World
Published : 02/02/15
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To mark the tercentennial of the destruction of the 1715 Spanish fleet off the coast of Florida during a violent storm, Daniel Carr and his Moonlight Mint are producing commemorative cobs with several designs in different metals and finishes.

Carr is also producing a number of unrelated pieces marking the 1622 treasure wreck of the Nuestra Seńora de la Atocha.

The 1715 Fleet commemorative cobs will bear elements from the Spanish Colonial coins of the period, but will also incorporate modern elements to easily differentiate the new pieces from genuine coins.

Genuine cobs are silver and gold coins struck from the 16th through 18th centuries at Spanish Colonial mints, including in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia, among others.

The Spanish Colonial silver cobs were denominated as reales and the gold as escudos. Some original cobs were struck with a date, with most exhibiting a Mint mark designating location of manufacture and an assayer’s mark to designate the official responsible for assuring weight and fineness. Most cobs are irregular in shape and vary in thickness due to the primitive minting techniques used in making the coins.

Silver, gold, brass

While some of Carr’s pieces are being struck in brass, and offered separately in gold as a special order, the remainder of the issues are being produced in silver.

Carr’s irregularly shaped silver cobs are being struck on poured blanks of silver that assayer David Emslie has refined using some 1715 Fleet silver, recovered in the form of low-grade cobs obtained from metal detecting finds in Florida. The melted silver was refined to .999 fine and then mixed with a larger amount of .999 fine silver, according to Carr.

Also included in the mixture were some scrapped and refined silver rounds that treasure salvor Mel Fisher produced circa 1986, from low-grade cob silver that his team recovered from the 1622 shipwreck Nuestra Señora de la Atocha, a sunken Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys.

Carr said all of the silver commemorative cobs contain trace amounts of both 1715 Fleet silver and Atocha silver.

The gold is commercially acquired from various sources and does not include metal from treasure finds. It is refined to .999+, Carr said, noting the gold is generally not from shipwreck recovery. So far, four 1-ounce gold pieces have been struck in the cob style. 

Carr said he may also may strike some cobs on standard 34-millimeter blanks, since the cob die faces are 34 millimeters in diameter. Carr said he also has plain and reeded edge collars that size as well.

Design elements from original cobs that are being used on the 1715 Fleet 300th Anniversary commemorative pieces (Carr does not distinguish between obverse and reverse sides) are:

➤ Jerusalem cross.

➤ Spanish crown.

➤ Spanish heraldry (crest with lions and castles).

➤ Pillars of Hercules (gateway to New World) with waves below.

➤ PLVS VLTRA Latin legend.

1715 Fleet 300th Anniversary issue design elements being used that are not found on original cobs are:

➤ Spanish galleon.

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