Atocha Treasure Coins
Authentic Atocha Coins Recovered by Mel Fisher

 

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Atocha Coin Design

The coin design in use during the Atocha time period, referred to as shield type, incorporated the Spanish coat of arms or shield on the obverse side and a cross representing the union of Church and State on the reverse. The elements of the design between the three major mints, Mexico City, Lima and Potosi, although similar, have features which make differentiation possible. This is especially true of the Mexican versus Peruvian coins. Shield type cob coinage was first struck at the Mexico City mint in 1572 and ceased production in 1733 when it was replaced by the machine struck pillar dollar. The Lima mint also struck shield type coins in 1572, but only a few coins were minted before operations ceased the same year. The mint reopened for a 12-year period between 1577 to 1588 using the same design. Potosi began striking coins in 1574 using dies from the Lima mint. Shield type production ceased at Potosi in 1652 when it was replaced by the pillar and waves design. Dated coins first appeared at the Mexico City mint in 1607 followed ten years later at the Potosi mint in 1617.

Shield elements on the obverse identify lands controlled by the king. Displayed is the Hapsburg Shield that appears on cobs minted during the reign of the Hapsburg kings beginning with Philip II (1556-1598) and ending with Charles II (1665-1700). The shield design changed with the first Bourbon King, Philip V in 1700. Although not displayed, its primary identification feature is the prominent three Bourbon fleurs-de-lis arrangement located at the center of the shield.

 

 

1.   Crown.
2.   Quadrants of castles and lions – Kingdoms of Castile and Leon.
3.   Mintmark: Mexico City – M (with a small o above the M), Lima
      or Potosi – P, sometimes located to the right of the shield.
4.   Denomination - Usually located to the right of the shield.
5.   Horizontal bar – Austria.
6.   Diagonal lines – Old Burgundy.
7.   Vertical Lion – Flanders. Sometimes switched with 8.
8.   Eagle – Tyrol. Sometimes switched with 7.
9.   Lion – Brabant.
10. Fleur-de-lis – New Burgundy or France.
11. Pomegranate – Granada.
12. Assayer – Usually located to the left of the shield, either Roman
      numerals or Arabic.
13. X with eagles in the left and right quadrants – Naples and Sicily.
14. Vertical Lines – Aragon.

The cross on the reverse clearly identifies coins struck at the Mexico City mint. The Greek cross is found on Lima and Potosi coins. It consists of two intersecting lines in the shape of a large plus sign. The Florenzada cross, a large plus sign flared on the ends and topped with spheres, is found exclusively on Mexico City coins.

 

 

 

15. Cross.
16. Lions and Castles – Found within the four quadrants of the cross
      and representing the regions of Castile and Leon. Their positions
      are sometimes transposed.
17. Tressure – Arcs located at the ends of the cross and quadrants
       making up the border.

 

Legends are the words placed around the circumference of both sides of the coin. Legends are usually incomplete or often times totally missing, but when full read differently on Mexican cobs versus their Peruvian counterparts. The meaning however, is the same and reads:

Kings name, by the grace of God, King of Spain and of the Indies.

In the actual legend, the letter V is always used in place of the letter U. The King’s name is PHILIPPVS or PHILIPPVS II (1556-1598), PHILIPPVS III (1598-1621), PHILLPPVS IIII (1621-1665), CAROLVS II (1665-1700), PHILIPPVS V (1700-1746) or LVDOVICVS (1724) depending on the time period. King is REX, and is ET, Grace of God is DEI GRATIA or D.G. for short, of Spain is HISPANIARVM and lastly of the Indies is INDIARVM.

Starting clockwise at the 12 o’clock position, the legends read:

OBVERSE SIDE (undated)

Mexico City: NAME OF KING DEI GRATIA
Lima and Potosi: NAME OF KING D.G. HISPANIARVM

REVERSE SIDE (undated)

Mexico City: HISPANIARVM ET INDIARVM REX
Lima and Potosi: ET INDIARVM REX

Legends change slightly for dated coins. Mexican coins display the date in the 10 – 11 o’clock position on the obverse side necessitating a compressed legend. The Peruvian coins display the date in the same position but on the reverse where there is ample space for the addition. A new word appears on the Potosi coins, ANO, which means date.

Legend changes are:

OBVERSE SIDE (dated)

Mexico City: NAME OF KING DEI G. DATE
Lima and Potosi: unchanged

REVERSE SIDE (dated)

Mexico City: unchanged
Lima and Potosi: ET INDIARVM REX ANO DATE
There were no dated Lima shield type cobs.

The assayer mark guaranteed the coins proper weight and purity. It consisted of the chief assayers initial or a monogrammed representation of his name. Records of the assayer names and dates of tenure are important for dating the coin. Unfortunately, many such records do not exist or are still buried in the Spanish archives.

 

ASSAYER MARKS FOR SHIELD TYPE COINS

 

MEXICO CITY - MINTMARK = M (small o over the M)

DATE

1572
thru

1607
1607-1608
1608-1609
1610-1617
1618-1634
1634-1665
1666-1677
1677-1705
1705-1723
1724-1728
1729-1730
1730
1730-1733

 

 

ASSAYER MARK

O
F
F (small o over the F)
F&D (small o over the D)
F
A
F
D
P
G
L
J
D
R
G
F

ASSAYER NAME

Name and exact
dates for the period
1577-1607 are

(first dated coin)




Geronimo Bercerra
Martin Lopez
Jose Eustaquio de Leon

Nicolas de Rojas

Felipe Rivas Angulo

LIMA- MINTMARK = P

DATE

1572
1577-1588

 

 

ASSAYER MARK

X
D, D (small o over 2nd D)

ASSAYER NAME

Xines Martinez
Deigo de la Torre

POTOSI - MINTMARK = P

DATE

1574-1576?
1574-1579?
1575-1579?
1580?
1581-1586
1586-1589
1589-1593?
1593-1596?
1596-1605?
1605-1613?
1613
1613-1616
1616-1617
1618
1618-1623
1622-1623
1624-1626
1627-1636
1628
1636-1640
1640-1643
1643-1648
1644-1648?
1645-1648?
1646
1646-1647
1647-1649
1649-1651
1651-1652

 

ASSAYER MARK

R
M, L
B
C, B, X/S, L
B
A
B
R, RL (monogrammed)
B
R (curved leg R)
C
Q
M
RAL (monogrammed)
T
P
P, P (small o over 2nd P)
T
P
T/R
F/R
T/R
T
R
V
P
Z
O (dot in center of O)
E

ASSAYER NAME

Alonso de Rincon
Exact dates and some
names for the period
1574-1586 is unknown
Juan Ballesteros
Juan Alvarez
Juan Ballesteros
Baltasar Ramos Leceta
Hernando Ballesteros
Baltasar Ramos Leceta

Agustin de la Quadra
(first dated coin)
Baltasar Ramos Leceta
Juan Ximenez de Tapia
Luis de Peralta
Pedro Martin de Palencia
Juan Ximenez de Tapia
Luis de Peralta
Pedro Trevino
(in various
monogrammed forms)
Juan Ximenez de Tapia
Felipe Ramirez de Arellano
Geronimo Velazquez
Luis de Peralta
Pedro Zambrano
Juan Rodriguez de Roas
Antonio de Ergueta


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