These are the 8 Reales produced by the Mexico City mint during the reign of Charles III of Spain from 1760-1771. The coins are 91.7% silver with a nominal weight of 27 g and diameter of 40 mm. I follow the convention of identifying the obverse as that side depicting the symbols of the state, therefore the obverse displays the Spanish arms and the monarch's name "CAROLUS III". The reverse shows the date and design featuring two columns, representing the Pillars of Hercules, framing two globes surmounted by a crown and resting on water. The left column is topped by the Imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire and the right has the Spanish Royal crown. This iconic image of the Spanish empire's dominion in the old and new worlds gives these coins their common nicknames of "Pillar Dollars" and "Columnarios".
The edge of these coins have a repeating floral motif, to deter clipping and make counterfeiting more difficult. This feature, coupled with the quality and consistency of the milling and minting by screw press, allowed these coins to be accepted across the world. The assayer pairs during this time were Manuel de la Pena and Manuel Assorin (MM) until 1762/63, then Manuel Assorin and Francisco de la Peña (MF) until 1770, followed by Francisco de la Peña and Manuel de Rivera (FM).
Trading reforms enacted by Charles III in the 1760's expanded the opportunities for commerce within the colonies and contributed to the greatly increased mining and minting of silver. At the quantities that were being produced, these coins became the de facto international currency of the time.
I didn't plan on building this set but by working on my Mexico City 8 Reales Type set, I won a few ungraded, problem-free, examples in Ebay auctions to get me started. I convinced myself that stretching my focus on Charles III portrait 8 reales to include the pillar dollars minted during his reign just might fit within my collecting budget. At the current stage in this collection, all but three of these coins were purchased in ungraded state (mostly from major US and Spanish auctions). The 1761/0 MM, 1768/7 MF and 1770/60 FM are the highest NGC or PCGS graded examples.
Update January 2016: I won four coins (three new overdates and one upgrade) from the Rudman Collection of Mexican Coins Part II. I was really hoping to acquire more of them but the truly rare and quality pieces got remarkable bids and even some of the details graded examples hammered at surprisingly high amounts.
Update October 2018: rudman coleccion Mexico City 8 reales sets have been emptied, although not completely removed so you can still view the set history. I think it's important to keep track of such notable achievements -- for this series rudman coleccion had 28 coins with a high score of 37,806.Read more...
Jack's Mexican 8 Reales Columnarios of Charles III
The owner of this collection went from collecting Mexico City Mint eight reales pieces by type to getting hooked on a complete run of the Charles III Columnarios (pillar dollars) from 1760-71. A nice introductory essay about the coins and the mint officers is included. Of the 35 slots in this set, all but eight have been filled with very nice specimens, and the photos provided are superb. Some of the more memorable entries include 1761Mo MM (NGC MS 62), 1763/2Mo MM (NGC XF 40) and 1770/60Mo FM (NGC AU 50).
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