Very rare Peruvian 4 Reales from the dawn of Peruvian coinage

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo has a great number of numismatic treasures, including today’s preview coin, a rare Philip II 4 Reales from the very beginning of Spanish colonial coinage for Peru. Lima, sometimes considered the most aristocratic colonial capital, was the site of a new mint authorized in 1565, producing the first series of coinage in 1568. The mint in Lima operated sporadically, with sometimes decades in between mintages.

The Pillar side design (as with most Spanish Colonial issues of the time) depicts the famous “Pillars of Hercules” which marked the Strait of Gibraltar separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. According to Greek mythology these served as a barrier to the outer – and then unknown — sea, and were inscribed “Non plus ultra” or ‘nothing further beyond.’ These Pillars were adopted by Carlos I as the supporters for his coat of arms, but with a modified motto of “Plus Ultra” or ‘further beyond.’ This was an encouragement to go past the defined borders of the world, and to establish the gateway to a new Spanish controlled empire beyond the Pillars. The actual design on this coin shows two pillars surmounted by crowns in the center of the coin, with text stretching across; “PL – VS V – LT(RA)” (which is one form of shorthand for the motto). The large numeral 4 below the motto represents the denomination of 4 Reales. The entire central design is bordered by a beaded circle, with the outer legend just beyond. The outer legend of “: NIARVM . ET INDIARUM . REX.”

The Shield side displays the Spanish Royal Arms: the joint Castile and Leon, quartered, with a pomegranate below, all surmounted by a crown. The Assayer’s initial of “R” appears just to the left of the shield. The entire design is contained within a beaded border, with the outer legend just beyond. “PHILIPVS . II . D . HISPAN.” When this legend is attached to the Pillar side legend, the royal title is fully expressed: “Philip II, by the Grace of God, King of Spain and the Indies.” The example offered here displays the full texture of the dies within the protected areas of the fields above the waves. There is some noticeable strike doubling, but overall it does not mar the eye appeal. The devices and legends are clear enough for easy identification of the type. Some modest, pleasing toning is present. Overall a choice piece from the beginnings of the Spanish Colonial coinage of Peru that is sure to draw considerable interest from collectors of this era.

Look for this and other world numismatic rarities in our upcoming November Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at Though our Stack’s Bowers November Baltimore Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are accepting consignments of world and ancient coins for our January New York International Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our December 2015 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

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