1681 Eight Reales Silver Cob – Spanish Colonial Mexico Mint
The eight reales silver cob of 1681 from the Spanish colonial mint in Mexico is a significant relic from the age of New World exploration and colonial expansion. The term “cob” refers to a particular type of coin, named from the Spanish verb “cabo,” meaning to chop or cut. Cobs were hand-struck, often irregular in shape, and were the precursor to the milled or machine-made coins.
The eight reales denomination was essentially the “dollar” of its day, widely accepted worldwide and setting the standard for international trade. It’s often called the “Piece of Eight” and was the foundation for many modern currencies, including the U.S. dollar.
The Mexico City mint was the first mint established in the Americas, inaugurated in 1535, producing coinage for nearly 400 years. A 1681 eight reales cob would be considered a middle-period issue from this mint.
A Numismatic Treasure from the Reign of Charles II of Spain
- Reign: Charles II ruled from 1665 to 1700. He ascended to the throne when he was just a child after his father’s death, King Philip IV of Spain.
- Legacy: Charles II’s reign was marked by a decline in the Spanish Empire’s power and influence in European affairs. His inability to produce an heir led to the War of the Spanish Succession after his death. In his will, Charles named Philip, Duke of Anjou (grandson of King Louis XIV of France), his successor, leading to the eventual establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain and the end of the Hashburg dynasty.
Shield Side: Hashburg Shield
During the reign of Charles II, the Habsburg coat of arms, or shield, was a complex piece of heraldry that showcased the many territories and claims of the Habsburg dynasty. While there may be variations based on specific uses and regions, the Habsburg shield during this period generally contained the following elements:
- Castile and León: Quartered represent the foundational kingdoms of modern Spain. Castile is symbolized by a castle, and León by a lion.
- Aragon and Sicily: Another quarter shows the vertical stripes of Aragon juxtaposed with the eagle of Sicily.
- Austria and New Burgundy: The middle represents Austria, while the Fleur-de-lis – New Burgundy or France.
- Granada: Near the middle of the shield, there’s a pomegranate representing the Kingdom of Granada, the last Muslim state in Spain, conquered in 1492.
- Old Burgundy and Brabant: The diagonal stripes depict ancient Burgundy, while the lion represents Brabant.
- oML to the left of the shield. oM for Mexico mint, L represents the assayer Martin Lopez.
- To the right of the shield is the number 8 for the denomination.
- Around the shield are:
- CAROLUS II DEI GRATIA translates to “Charles II, by the Grace of God.”
- HISPAN[IARUM] REX translates as “King of the Spains.”
- 1681, the date the coin was minted.
- Jerusalem Cross: The central feature is a large, bold cross. This design is often called a “Jerusalem Cross.”
- Castles and Lions: In the four quadrants created by the central cross, alternating designs of castles and lions appear, representing the Kingdoms of Castile and León, respectively. These are fundamental symbols of Spain’s heraldry.
- Lettering around the cross: HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX This translates to “King of the Spains and the Indies.”
- The legend emphasizes Spain’s dominion over its Iberian territories and its vast overseas colonial holdings in the Americas and the East Indies. The inclusion of both “Hispaniarum” (Spains) and “Indiarum” (Indies) underlines the global reach and importance of the Spanish Empire at its height.
Diameter: 46 x 38 mm
Silver-plated lead-free metal
Made in the USA
This coin is stamped with the word copy.
Packaged in a coin collecting flip with the description of the coin printed on the flip insert.