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World Coins – Fantastic “Imaginary Bust” Mexican 8 Escudos of Ferdinand VI

world coins - mexican coins - 8 Escudos of Ferdinand VI

World Coins – 1747 Mexican 8 Escudos Ferdinand VI

By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger, Stacks Bowers …….


The Stack’s Bowers Galleries August ANA World’s Fair of Money Showcase Auction, held this year in Anaheim, California, promises to be a tremendous event. The World coins auction sessions feature some fantastic rarities and highly collectible types; seemingly there is something for everyone. High on the list of extraordinary coins is a rare 1747 Mexican 8 Escudos.

At this time in history Mexico was a Spanish colony known as the “Viceroyalty of New Spain.” The Spanish monarch Philip V died in July 1746, and his son Ferdinand VI succeeded him. One issue facing royal successions at that time was the travel required to spread the news of the new king’s ascension.

It took many weeks to travel by ship from Spain to the New World, and before the news of Philip V’s demise reached Mexico, the Mexico City Mint had already begun issuing posthumous issues of Philip V in the early months of 1747. It took time for the official mint in Spain to create punches with updated portraits, legends, and icons.

In the meantime, the Mexico City mint improvised a design for Ferdinand VI. Using a verbal description of the new King Ferdinand VI of Spain, Mexican mint officials created an “imaginary portrait” for the obverse of this coin.

Ferdinand VI’s royal titles appear around the bust: “FERDND. VI. D. G. HISPAN. ET IND. REX.” The date appears below the bust, flanked by two rosettes. A careful examination of the armor shown on this bust reveals it to be nearly identical to the armor of Philip V, the predecessor. In all likelihood it was simply copied in order to facilitate speedy production of the new coinage.

The bust itself, as mentioned above, is known as an “imaginary portraiture” and would not resemble the future official portrait punches of Ferdinand VI issued by the Madrid mint.

This “imagined portraiture” was unique to the Mexico City Mint, was only used for a brief span of a few months, and was never used at any of the other colonial mints outside of Mexico. These factors combine to create an extremely rare world coins that was only produced during a short window of time.

The reverse contains an intricate shield depicting the complex and stunning coat of arms of the King of Spain. The Crown appears above, and along either side of the shield appears the Order of the Golden Fleece, a famous Order that has existed for almost 600 years.

Between the chain of the Order and the heraldic shield are displayed the assayer’s initials on the left and an “8” for 8 Escudos on the right.

The inscription reads: “INITIUM SAPIENTIAE TIMOR DOMINI,” which translates to “Beginning of Wisdom is Fear of the Lord.” This inscription was the official motto of Philip V.The reverse design is the same punch reused from the previous Philip V issue.

At the very bottom, between the beginning and end of the legend and the Golden Fleece, are two “MO” monograms signifying the Mexico City mint. This rare type was only issued for a few months in the year 1747, and as such it is extremely rare.

The original and highly attractive example Stack’s Bowers will be auctioning in August, features warm attractive golden toning and glossy mirrored surfaces within the protected areas of the legends. This is a key one-year type and the coin is in exceptionally high-grade, finer than the Iovino coin and equal to the Norweb and Karon examples that were among the world’s finest known world coins.

Though our Stack’s Bowers August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is no longer open for consignments, we are now accepting consignments of world coins for our January 2017 New York International Auction as well as Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2017 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. 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

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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