|Atocha Research Collection History||
crown and surrounded by a legend on both obverse and
THE CLASSIFIED COINS ACCORDING TO THEIR MINTS
LIMA, LA PLATA AND POTOSI, 1568-1651
I. Lima, 1658-1588
1) Pillars of Hercules on the reverse.
Assayer R 1658 - 1571
2) Crowned arms on the obverse.
a) Assayer R. 1572
5) Assayer X. M. 1572/73
c) Assayer B. Ca. 1573/74
d) Assayer L. Ca. 1574—1577
e) Assayer D. 1577—1588.
1) Philip II, until 1598.
a) Assayer B alone, 1575 - ca. 1588
b) Assayers B and A, Ca 1588-1591.
c) Assayers B and R, 1591-1598.
2) Philip III, 1598—1621.
a) Assayers B and R, 1598-1616/17.
b) Assayers Q, M, R, T, P 1616/17 - 1621/22
3) Philip IV, since 1621.
a) Assayers T and P, 1621-1632.
6) Assayers T and TR, 1633-1646/47
a) Assayers V, Z, 0, E, 1646-1651
On August 21, 1565, King Philip II of Spain signed the Royal Decree in which he authorized
the establishment of the Lima Mint. In a letter of February 7, 1568, addressed to the King by the
lawyer Castro we find, however, the following words: “I hope that with the consent of Your Majesty the work will begin within one month” (1). According to this statement, the actual process
p of minting was first initiated in Lima during the month of March, 1568. As early as April, 1571,
the coinage in the Lima Mint had already ceased. (2).
The illustrations 1 to 11 on Plate I show eleven examples of coins minted during the period
between 1568 and 1571. The legends display the following words: PHILIPVS. II. D. HISPA.
(obverse); NIARVM. ET. INDIARVM. REX. (reverse). Even if the legend is not always entirely
legible, during this period the word PHILIPVS is engraved without exception with only one P.
In the center of each obverse the coins worth 8, 4, 2, and 1 Reales display a coat of arms which
is quartered (I and IV: Castile; II and III: Leon; apex: Granada) and crowned. The crown cuts
through the milled edge above it.
Left of the coat of arms we recognize an R as the assayer’s initial, which most probably stands
for Alonso Rincon. This is at least the opinion of Edgar Fl. Adams as seen in his Catalogue of
the Guttag Collection” (1929). Referring to the Potosi Mint, J. T. Medina states the following:
“It is well known that its first engraver and assayer was Alonso Rincon, who had more than 45
years experience in these fields, in Spain as well as in Mexico and Peru” (3). If Rincon, as Medina
argues, really had acquired some experience in his field in Peru before the Potosi Mint opened,
the only place for him to practice his trade in Peru was Lima (since 1568).
On the reverse, the coins worth 8, 4, 2 Reales, and 1 Real show the crowned pillars of Hercules standing upon waves, which allude to the sea, and the uncompleted legend PLVS VLTRA.
The Latin P above the PLVS VLTRA was to indicate “how the minting was done in Peru” (4).
Assayer R (Pillars of Hercules).
Coins minted in the Lima Mint of Peru during the period from 1568 to 1571, following the
Royal Decree of August 21, 1565.
1) 8 Reales. In 1929 Edgar H. Adams attributed this coin of the Guttag Collection (nr. 3,993)
to the Lima Mint and to the assayer Alonso Rincon. In 1892 another piece of the same value
and similar appearance was listed under nr. 7485 in the Vidal Quadras y Ramón Collection
and was simply attributed to Peru by the collector. In 1914 Adolfo Herrera mentions the
same coin of Vidal Quadras (nr. 7.485) and lists it under nr. 884 in the chapter Casa de
Moneda de Potosi” in his book EL Duro. This mistaken designation most probably is the
basis for Toribio Medina’s assertion in 1919 that the fIrst engraver and assayer of PotosI
was Alonso Rincon. Medina does not supply any documentation to support this claim. On
the contrary, a proof carried out by Rincon in 1575, as well as his accounts of April 1575
on the coinage of La Plata in 1574/75 (5), seem to indicate the great likelihood that Rincon,
after having left his assayer’s office in Lima, moved to La Plata and Potosi in another
capacity than that of assayer (CL 1): This coin is reproduced in our book: “Las acuñaciones de la Ceca de Lima” (1964), under nr. 1.
2) 4 Reales. Value below the abbreviated lemma: PL-VSV-LT instead of PL-VSVL-TRA
3) 4 Reales. To the right of the arms of Castile on the obverse we find the value 1111. In 1865
Aloiss Heiss has already reproduced the same coin in his work Description General de Las
Monedas Hispano-Cristianas (Plate 29, Nr 13). Heiss identified the value beside the arms as
an M in gothic script, probably because of the inclarity of the last I in 1111. Up to this point
there is no knowledge of another coin with the same characteristics (CL 3).
4) 2 Reales. Two points below the lemma PL-VSV-TR indicate the value of the coin. Large
crown on nrs. 1-4 (CL 4). Medina attributed a similar coin to Santa Fe (op. cit., p. 262).
5) 2 Rcales. Two points below the lemma PL-VSVL-TR indicate the value. Middle sized crown.
6) 2 Reales. Two points between the P of Peru and the lemma PL-VSV-LT indicate the value
(more rare than the nrs. 4 and 5). Small crown (CL 5).
7) 1 Real. One point below the lemma PL-VSV.-TR indicates the value. Large crown.
8) 1 Real. One point below the lemma P-LV-S indicates the value. Small crown.
(1) See: J. 1’. Medina: Las Moaadas Hispono-Ansericaaas, p. 152.
(2) T. Desi: Estud(o St ~os Reels, Sc a Ocho, vol. II, p. 63.
(3) J. T. Medina: op. cit., p. 212,
(4) J. T. Medina: op. cit., p. 169, and H. F. Burzio: La Crea Se LOne, 1555-2824, p. 52.
(5) J. T. Medina: op. cit., pp. 153, 209 y 211.
THE ASSAYERS OF THE PERUVIAN COINAGE
DURING THE PERIOD 1572-1651
During the five years between 1572 and 1577 five different assayer’s initials are represented
on the coinage of Lima: R, X, M, B, and L. We believe that the R belongs to the assayer
Alonso de Rincon, and that the X and the M both belong to the assayer Xines Martinez, who
most probably started to work using the initial of his last name. We know neither the first
nor the last names of the assayers B and L. May be the B stands for Juan de Bruselas.
During the period between 1577 and 1588 the assayer of Lima is Diego de la Torre, whose
name is well known because of the documentation of his oath on September 23, 1577.
Considering the initials X and M as belonging to one assayer, and adding Diego de Ia Torre
to the list of assayers, we now count five assayers for the Lima Mint during the 16 years
between 1572 and 1588.
We maintain that the assayer with initial C was the only one to work as assayer in La
Plata. During the short period of time in 1574 the work was accomplished in this mint with
half of the tools of the Lima Mint and with borrowed dies. The initial C was provisionally
superimposed on the slightly erased initial B, which was then the assayer’s initial of the
In 1575, after the failure of the La Plata Mint, the assayer B, probably Alonso Lopez de
Barriales, the only assayer and metal founder in Potosi since August 31st, 1572 took over the
installation of the new mint as soon as possible. In Potosi the same dies were used again
which originated from Lima. The initial C of La Plata’s assayer, which had been superimposed on the initial B, was now covered again by the original initial B of the first assayer of the
new Potosi Mint. During the first years of B’s activity in Potosi, the Lima Mint continued
At approximately the same time as the closing of the Lima Mint (1588) we are confronted
with a second initial in Potosi: with A. Potosi was in those days the only mint which continued to function in Peru and in all of South America. The initial A (Alonso) could very
well stand for Alonso Lóp2z de Barriales, since with the coinage of Xines Martinez on which
the X and the M most probably stand for one and the same assayer, we find a similar
Furthermore there is evidence that on March 27th, 1591, i. e. three years later, it was Alonso Lopez de Barriales who was replaced in his assayer’s duties by Gaspar Ruiz (**). Under
Ruiz the coins were signed by the initial of his last name, i. e. by the initial R. He was
assayer of Potosi until 1618. The assayer’s initial B is characteristic of Potosi until the great
reform in 1616/17. Thus during the period between 1575 and 1598 we can ascertain the
presence of only three initials in the Potosi Mint: of B, A, and R. These three characterize
at the same time the period of reign of Philip II.
During the reign of Philip III, 1598—1621, the initials B and R remained in use for the
period indicated above. After the great trial of 1616/17 the initial B was successively replaced by the initials Q, M, and P, while the initial R was probably replaced by the initial T
in 1618. Taking into consideration the four new initials of the period of Philip lII and the
three already known ones of the period of Philip II we reach the number of 7 assayer’s
initials: B, A, R, Q, M, P, and T,
If we add to this number the initials of the period of Philip IV from 1621 on, i. e. TR, V, Z,
The Coinage Of The
Mints Of Lima, La Plata, And Potosi
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