Latin American Numismatic Heritage: Eight, Four and Two-Real Coins from the Potosí Mint

Project leader:
• Paloma Otero Morán, Department of Numismatics and Medals

Working group:
• Paloma Otero Morán, Department of Numismatics and Medals
• Paula Grañeda Miñón, Department of Numismatics and Medals
• Documentation Department

Ocho escudos de Felipe V. México, 1742 (anverso)

Spanish colonial issues are one of the most important series in the museum’s coin collections. It is estimated to contain more than 7,000 pieces, which together paint a highly accurate picture of the monetary history of the colonial era. The museum also contains national issues produced by the different American nations after they achieved independence from Spain, pre-monetary objects used as currency by indigenous societies, and commemorative medals, especially the proclamation medals of the Spanish monarchs, a phenomenon unique to Spain and the Americas.

Colonial issues are the basis of Latin America’s modern-day currency systems and represented the continent’s introduction to coinage. Produced in vast quantities thanks to the fabulously rich mines of the Americas, they also facilitated the emergence of the first truly international coin, the “piece of eight”. This coin circulated along all the major global trade routes between the 16th and 18th centuries, linking the Americas with Europe and the Far East. In time, it became the model for the national issues of the Latin American republics and the United States dollar.

Ocho reales de Felipe V. Santiago de Cuba, 1741 (reverso)

Since 2007, the Latin American Numismatic Heritage project has been cataloguing and digitising the rich collection of Spanish colonial coin issues, as part of a larger international project involving experts from museums and institutions in Latin America. By making these pieces available online, the project aims to facilitate access to information, guarantee the protection of cultural assets, and create a useful resource for research on various levels. However, its primary goal is to raise public awareness about the cultural importance of coins, one of the most common targets of underwater treasure hunters and shipwreck looters.

This campaign will focus on silver multiples struck at Potosí from the former collection of Domingo Sastre, adding more than 300 new pieces to the existing catalogue of coins from this mint.

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