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Remarkable 1769 Pattern Grano and Half Grano

The World Coin team here at Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio is incredibly excited for our upcoming January New York International coin show and auction. It is a truly monumental task to follow last week’s unique and historic 1755 Nuevo Reino “Milled” 8 Escudo, but the two coins featured here are spectacular numismatic rarities in their own right. These two Mexican coins are a topic of debate within the numismatic community. Some key aspects of what defines these coins are still uncertain after years of dedicated research by top historians and numismatists. As it stands, the status as to whether or not they are patterns or circulation issues and even the denomination of “Grano” and “1/2 Grano” are in dispute. However the rarity can be agreed on by all familiar with these coins. The examples in our January 2014 auction are the finest certified, a truly monumental offering.

 

The state of preservation for these coins is remarkable. Usually examples are in Very Fine condition and often have problems such as corrosion or edge bumps. These two lovely examples surfaced recently in an old time European collection and have clearly remained together since the time of striking. Both are sharply struck with lustrous red and brown surfaces that remain original and untouched. Both are certified by NGC as MS65 RB and are the finest graded.

 

The iconography for these coins is very fascinating, as is their mysterious background. The obverse design could very well be the first coin to depict an eagle perched on top of a cactus, which would become the iconic image for independent Mexican coinage in the later centuries. However, some assert that this bird is a dove of peace, spreading seeds into fertile ground (as an allegory for the Spanish spreading their influence throughout the known world). At the base of the cactus there are three globes, which could be attributed as a representation of the Spanish sphere of influence; they depict the Spanish Old World, Spanish New World, and the Spanish Orient (Philippines). The inscription bordering these images states: “SINE ME REGNA FATISCUNT” which means: “without me kingdoms totter” and finally there are two Mexico City mintmarks surrounding the date of 1769. The reverse design showcases the proud Spanish Coat of Arms, including the castles and rampant lions of Castile and Leon and the pomegranate of Granada in the bottom. The triple fleur de lis is also present in the center. The regal crown surmounts the Bourbon escutcheon (heraldic shield), and the outer legend “CAROLVS. III. INDIAR. REX.” states Charles III’s royal title. Two symbols appear to either side of the heraldry, “Go” and “1” (or “1/2” on the smaller denomination), and possibly stand for its denomination.

 

These copper coins are referred to as patterns by most traditional references, but as stated earlier this is speculative analysis. The denomination of “Grano” is also assumed, as this denomination had never seen use in Mexico before. Grano is attributed as the denomination based on the two symbols on either side of the Spanish Coat of Arms, “1” (or ½) and “Go”, with Grano derived from the “Go” monogram. It is generally assumed however, that these were created as part of a rare and short lived issue intended for circulation in Mexico. One important piece of evidence in support of their intended circulation in Mexico is that all other Spanish Colonial pattern pieces from the Charles III era were issued directly from the Madrid mint in Spain. These coins display the Mexico City mintmark. This leads to the assumption that these particular coins were indeed intended for circulation and are not pattern types.

 

One possibility for these coins’ short lived nature is the coinage reforms Charles III attempted under his rule. The King of Spain hired Tomas Francisco Prieto to oversee all of the Spanish Colonial mints, in an attempt to unify the coinage in the Spanish Realm. At the Madrid mint, Prieto designed a new portrait coinage for Charles III and distributed to the colonial mints full denomination sets of uniface patterns. These were dated 1770 and their authority in unifying the colonial coinage would supersede any potential newly issued copper coinage series. Some authors have even thrown the intended country of circulation into question by offering the idea that these pieces were minted in Mexico City (as expressed by the Mo monogram) but were intended for circulation in the Philippines. This theory states that these were patterns struck in Mexico City and sent to Spain for consideration as a circulating piece in the Spanish Orient (Philippines). Regardless of their intended use, only a small amount of these coins remain, and none can match these examples’ stellar NGC-MS 65 Red-Brown grade. These coins are certainly going to bring colossal results once the live bidding begins. These two Mexican coins join the growing list of incredible Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio world coin highlights for the January New York International show.

 

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming January New York International Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this December at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at www.StacksBowers.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580. While our Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio January New York International sale is closed for further consignments, we are currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins for our April 2014 Hong Kong and August 2014 ANA sales. If you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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