By John Kraljevich – Numismatic Consultant, Stack’s Bowers Galleries ……
Colombia has a proud numismatic tradition, extending in equal parts to the historic and fascinating nature of the coins made there and the superb numismatists who have collected and studied them for generations. The Eldorado Collection encapsulated both of these branches of Colombian numismatic heritage, gathering coins of extraordinary quality and importance in one place, and doing so with an advanced specialist’s expert eye.
This offering of the Eldorado Collection shepherds together many of the most notable highlights from this wide-ranging cabinet, an accomplishment many decades in the making. The coins span chronologically from the very first gold coin of the New World–the 1622 2 Escudos struck in Cartagena, a historic masterpiece of global importance–to modern issues of the Bogotá Mint. In the 350 years of history these coins bookend, a nation blossomed, from colony, through fits and starts of several republican (and not-so-republican) governments, to a modern power. The earliest coins represent some of the first treasure taken from the ground by the representatives of the Spanish crown, while those of the 19th century show a nation whose wealth made it a player in world trade, and a home to growing cities and grand aspirations.
This remarkable historical legacy is written in gold and, to a lesser but still important extent, silver. The vast majority of the coins in this offering are gold: onzas from colonial days and their later descendants, patterns of European workmanship and great beauty, and smaller denominations intended not for world trade, but local circulation. The silver coins here are all from Colombia’s colonial beginnings: a world class collection of cobs, from Cuartillos to 8 Reales; rare Pillar types; and an extensive run of portrait coins depicting Carlos III and Carlos IV, including many struck during the reign of Ferdinand VII.
No Colombian collection has ever excelled in so many specialties. While our friend Joe Lasser may have had more gold cobs, and Murias had an extensive run of portrait coins, no Colombian cabinet ever assembled has brought together so many challenging specialties into a single extraordinary grouping. Taken individually, most would be the best ever collected in terms of quality and completeness. Taken as a whole, nothing comes close.
The highlights are too many to list. Not all rarities will have astronomical estimates; indeed, many have yet to be fully appreciated for their importance. If Colombian coins are a new endeavor, this is a fine place to wade into this fascinating field.
Good luck in your bidding.
The Eldorado Collection of Colombian and Ecuadorian Coins will be offered in two sessions at the 2018 Stack’s Bowers New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) Auction: Session D takes place at 6:30pm EST on January 8, and Session F will be held at 6:30pm EST on January 13 – both at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.