More Spanish Colonial Coins

From the Royal Mints of Potosi (Bolivia), Lima (Peru), and Guatemala

Presented here is a hand-hammered cob coin of 2 Reales denomination, cut from the end of a bar or sheet of silver, and trimmed by hand using shears. Each cob is unique in shape - no two are alike. Next are two round milled (made by machine) 8 reales coins with an ornate floral edge. These coins were made in a screw press operated by human muscle power. As you can see, the old style cob pieces were irregular in shape and thus invited clipping of the edges by unscrupulous people. The eight reales coin is known as a "piece of eight" - the largest silver coin in circulation. The milled Spanish colonial 8 reales coins and its time-honored fractional coins of 4, 2, 1, 1/2 and 1/4 reales were the principal coins in circulation in the U.S. in colonial days, and were legal tender in this country right up to 1857.

The individual descriptions of the coins explains the symbolism of the simple yet powerful design, which advertised Spanish prestige throughout the many generations these well regarded silver coins circulated throughout the world.

The author expresses appreciation to Daniel F. Sedwick and for reviewing and commenting on these articles.


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All photos in this gallery were taken by .

References for more information about the coins discussed:

The Practical Book of Cobs, Third Edition, by Daniel Sedwick and Frank Sedwick, Winter Park, Florida, 1995.

The Milled Columnarios of Central and South America - Spanish American Pillar Coinage, 1732 to 1772 by Frank F. Gilboy, Prairie Wind Publishing, Inc., Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1999.

Standard Catalog of World Coins, Spain, Portugal and the New World by Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler, Krause Publications, Iola, Wisconsin, 2002.

Copyright © 2005 and the Willamette Coin Club