Saturday, January 24, 2015

1/24/15 Report - Potosi Pillars and Waves Reales Date Designations. Gusty West Winds Saturday. Coins of the Lost Galleons Book.

Written by the Treasure Guide for the exclusive use of

1726 Eight Reales Illustration and Photo
Source: Seawall Menzel book Cobs, Pieces of Eight and Treasure Coins
I recently received a picture of a very interesting Treasure Coast Potosi Eight-Reales.  As a result I did a little research to see what I could learn about the cob.  One thing I learned is that before 1700, and back until when the Potosi Pillars and Waves cobs were first produced in 1652, a two digit date was typical, while 1700 and later a three digit date was typical on such cobs.

As you might know, there can be many varieties for a cob made by a specific mint in any given year.  Since different dies were used and the same die reworked and reused over the period of time, the large number of existing varieties can be over-whelming, but each difference can provide an important clue that can be used to help date and identify the cob.

The Potosi Pillars-and-waves eight reale that I recently looked at had some features that were similar in many ways to the one shown at the top of this post, although it was not the same year.

You seldom if ever are able to see all of the design features on a salvaged or dug cob.  They just aren't that perfect.  Even if the strike is near perfect, years in the ocean or sand will take a toll.

Not long ago I discussed the subject of Royals and some questions regarding their true purpose.  Royals are cobs that are produced in exceptional quality and are often considered to be presentation pieces for the king, thus the name, however their true purpose is not so certain.  (See the previous post discussing the Sedwick article on that topic.)

The above illustration from the Menzel book shows a three digit date displayed on the bottom row between the pillars, in this case "726" indicating the year 1726.   Of course that date is later than 1715 and would not normally be found on 1715 Fleet wrecks or beaches, however it does illustrate one thing that I was interested in, and that is how the dates were displayed on Potosi Pillars and Waves eight-reales beginning in 1700.

As I said above, Pillars and Waves cobs manufactured in Potosi prior to 1700 showed a two-digit date between the pillars.  "52," for example, would indicate 1652. 

On the top row between the pillars in the example shown above, you see the mint mark "P," followed by the denomination, "8," followed by the assayer intial "Y." 

In the second row, "PLVSVLTR."  Plus Ultra can be interpreted as "more beyond," referring to the New World. 

In the example above, in the third row you have the assayer initial and mint mark plus a three digit date between the columns, as is typical of Potosi eight reales produced from 1700 on.

Just one additional note: Lima also produced Pillars and Waves cobs. 


While on the subject of cobs, I just came across a book that I evidently forgot that I had.  It is a small paperback by Kathryn Budde-Jones entitled Coins of the Lost Galleons, second edition published 1993.


On the Treasure Coast the wind was coming from the South and West early in the day.   According to the buoy data, the waves didn't get much over three feet.  Later in the day the wind was more out of the West and North.

It doesn't look like we'll get much more than a two or three foot surf for a few days.  We do have a negative tide now.  That is one good thing.


I've had a chance to give an ATX a few tests and one thing that I've seen that I like a lot compared to some other pulse detectors that I've used or tested is that a small thin gold ring gave a better signal than a clad dime.  That was observed under various conditions.


Happy hunting,