Peru Gold 8 Escudos 1749/8 From The River Plate

The August 2013 Chicago ANA World’s Fair of Money show promises to offer a vast assortment of numismatic pieces, including Ancient, Medieval, and Modern World coins as well as Paper money. This week we are excited to preview another treasure, a Cob style Gold 8 Escudos from Peru. The term treasure is not used lightly here; this coin is literally salvaged sunken treasure. The frigate “Nuestra Senora de la Luz” – a Portuguese ship operating under license for the Spanish – was carrying cargo from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Cadiz, Spain in 1752. While anchored off the coast of Montevideo, Uruguay a westerly tempest of sudden and dramatic force smashed the Luz against the coast and scattered her cargo across a wide area. Salvage operations began immediately and 90% of the cargo was recovered within the first year. In 1992 divers found gold coins in the River Plate that could have been part of contraband on the Luz that was hidden in the gunpowder hold. One of these gold pieces of sunken treasure recovered from the wreckage has found its way to our auction block for August.

By nature the cob style of coinage is rough and inconsistent, due to its hand-made preparation and striking. The dies used to create these coins were much larger than the finished coins, which lead to it being extremely rare to find a full and complete legend on any one piece. The hand-crafted nature also lends uniqueness to each coin, since no two coins could be identical. A Cross of Jerusalem design dominates the obverse (cross side), with the emblems of Castille and Leon in the quadrants, a lion in the upper right and lower left, and castles in the upper left and lower right. This coin is somewhat off-center, with only a portion of the lower left inscription visible: “ANDVS VI.” This is the last part of the Spanish king’s name; Ferdinand VI. This rare type contains a second date of “749” is faintly engraved below the cross.

The reverse (pillar side) contains the Pillars of Hercules, located at the Straits of Gibraltar, indicating the gateway out of the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic. The center letters “P.V.A.” are an abbreviation of the Latin legend “PLVS VLTRA” which means ‘more beyond.’ This must refer to the vast uncharted territory beyond the Pillars which the Spanish explored and colonized. The upper portion contains the mint mark “L” for Lima, Peru, and “8” for the denomination of gold 8 Escudos. The Assayer’s mark (R) is normally to the right of the 8, but this example is off center just enough so as to not be visible. The lower set of numbers “7.4.9.” refers to the minting date of 1749, and below the date and the Pillars waves of the sea are visible. The outer inscription around the edge of the design for this type usually continued the King’s titles, but for this example the only portion visible is “ARVM. R. F.” This piece of sunken treasure, pulled up from the bottom of the River Plate in Uruguay, is just one of the many magnificent numismatic collectibles offered in our August ANA auction.

Look for this and other world numismatic pieces in our upcoming August ANA Sale. Preview this impressive coin along with the rest of our auction this August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine California or New York City. For details please refer to the Auction Schedule/Details link under Current Auctions at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.566.2580.

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