One of three examples of North America’s earliest silver dollar
equivalent coin realized $587,500 in Daniel Frank Sedwick LLC’s Nov. 6
auction in Orlando, Fla.
The undated (1538) silver 8-real coin was estimated to sell for
between $500,000 and $1 million, and the opening bid was $475,000. The
final price included the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.
The anonymous buyer was bidding from the floor. According to Agustin
Garcia-Barneche, the vice president of the Sedwick auction firm, the
buyer “is a very sophisticated collector of Latin American coins,
specifically of the colonial period. This will always be the star of
The example Sedwick offered weighs a full 27 grams and, as customary
for the hand-struck 8-real coins, is not perfectly round.
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded the Sedwick example Extremely Fine 45.
All three known examples of the coin were struck at the Mexico City
Mint under Francisco del Rincón, the facility’s first assayer, just
two years after the mint opened as the first in the Americas.
In the early 1990s, these coins were discovered in a chest of 2,000
coins from a circa 1550s Caribbean shipwreck, according to Daniel
Frank Sedwick, the company president. The discovery provided physical
evidence of the early issues, which had previously been reported in
documents transcribed by researcher Alberto Pradeau in 1947 and
supplemented in 1955 by Robert I. Nesmith.
The transcripts were from an investigation by Francisco Tello de
Sandoval in 1545, as ordered by the king in response to accusations of
fraud leveled by Hernan Cortés, Spanish conqueror of Mexico. Though
the large-sized early coins were referenced in the report, no extant
examples were known prior to their discovery in the shipwreck.
All three examples of the coin were struck at least twice,
confirming Pradeau’s research that found production of the coins was
halted because of difficulty with striking.
The coins share the same basic designs.
The obverse features a crowned shield housing castles and lions in
its quadrants, representing Castile and Leon, with a pomegranate for
Granada at the bottom, flanked by Gothic-M Mint marks for Mexico
inside a legend that shows the name of King Charles and his mother
Joanna, the “mad” queen.
The reverse of the coin bears the Pillars of Hercules with a banner
that shows the inscription PLVS VLTRA (meaning “more beyond”),
signifying the entrance to the Mediterranean. A Maltese cross appears
at the top, and an initial R for the assayer is at the bottom. The
various design elements are all contained inside an encircling legend
stating the rulers’ territories.
The auction was the first public offering of this example.
Garcia drew several parallels between the early Mexican 8-real coin
and the American silver dollar, noting that the 1794 Flowing Hair
dollar (which weighs 26.96 grams) was based on the Spanish colonial
8-real pieces like those struck at the Mexico City Mint and elsewhere
in Spain and the New World for some 300 years.
“Spanish colonial coins, particularly from Mexico, were legal tender
in the U.S. until 1857 and therefore the first ‘dollar’ of Mexico is
technically the first such coin of the United States as well,” he said.
This was the firm’s second live floor auction and 16th live auction
overall. Between 50 and 75 people were in the room for bidding, and
video and audio feeds gave remote attendees extra insight into what
was happening and added interest, according to the firm.
Prices realized, including the buyer’s fees, surpassed the $2
million mark, and many lots sold for record prices, according to Garcia.
For results from the auction, visit the company’s website.
More from CoinWorld.com:
ISIL issue its own coins?
States Mint resumes silver American Eagle sales Nov. 17 to satisfy
voracious investor demand
than 2,000 19th century silver coins in mud-pot hoard discovered
1965 Washington quarter planchet error among unusual auction
items: Whitman Expo Market Analysis
finds 1969-S DDO Lincoln cent after searching through 12,000 cents
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by signing
up for our free eNewsletters, liking
us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!