[ Coins ] Mexico: Uncertified 151030 Mexico, Carlos and Joanna 8 Reales ND (1538). Since the re-discovery of certain archival documents by Dr. Alberto Pradeau in 1947, it has been known that the early Mexican Mint did strike large, dollar-sized silver 8 reales in 1538, two years after the Mint began operation. Those documents were the transcripts from an investigation by Francisco Tello de Sandoval in 1545, as ordered by the king in response to accusations of fraud by Hernan Cort?s, Spanish conqueror of Mexico. The investigation exposed eyewitness accounts by various mint officials (including Francisco del Rinc¢n, the first assayer at the mint) that 8 Reales were made briefly in 1538 until it was determined that they were too difficult to craft properly under the conditions that existed. Without a single specimen to prove the existence of these 8 Reales, it was believed that all specimens struck had disappeared forever. In the 1990s, however, an unidentified Spanish shipwreck, sunk circa 1550 in the Caribbean yielded three specimens of the long-lost Rinc¢n 8 Reales in a chest of about 2,000 silver coins from the early Mexican mint. The first specimen to be announced publicly was promoted as the first dollar of the Americas in the past couple of years by dealers Ira and Larry Goldberg. That coin ultimately became the key showpiece in a private Coinage of the Americas collection prominently displayed by the Goldbergs at the ANA's World's Fair of Money in San Francisco last summer. Due to the fact that that coin is slightly underweight (from corrosion) and of substandard fineness (possibly evidence of at least some of the difficulty mentioned by the mint-workers in the 1545 investigation), and because it was the only specimen known to the public, a few modern researchers quietly questioned its authenticity. That opinion will undoubtedly be reversed upon examination of this second specimen, the first one to be offered for sale at public auction. The current whereabouts of the third specimen, which this cataloger can personally state is the middle coin of the three in quality through earlier viewing of a photograph, is currently unknown. We can also state, without fear of contradiction, that the coin we are offering is quite a bit nicer than the other two examples. It is difficult to put a price on these coins, although rumors abound as to the selling price of the Goldberg specimen-some of the figures mentioned approaching $1,000,000. We cannot verify these figures, they are purely speculation, but suffice it to say that this is one of, if not the most valuable Latin American coin. The design of the present coin is typical for the Early Series issues under Carlos and Joanna at Mexico from 1536 to 1542: On the obverse, a simple crowned arms with lions and castles (for the main Spanish regions of Le¢n and Castile) in the quadrants and a pomegranate (for the newly-reconquered Moorish stronghold of Granada in Spain) at the bottom, flanked by oMo mintmarks; on the reverse, crowned pillars (emblematic of the Pillars of Hercules, the ancient name for the narrow Straits of Gibraltar that connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean) with PLVS in a panel standing for PLVS VLTRA ( more beyond, the Spanish answer to the ancient expression of ne plvs vltra), with of course the letter R for assayer Rinc¢n below the pillars. Above the pillars, where a numerical denomination appears on the smaller coins, a small Greek cross was used to denote the 8 reales. The legends read KAROLVS ET IOHANA D / HISPANIE ET INDIARVM RE ( Carlos and Joanna, by the Grace of God, King and Queen of Spain and the Indies ), with various ornaments between the words. Some of the lettering is Gothic, including the M mintmarks, but most of it is the new Latin lettering that became the norm for the Late Series that followed (1542-1572). These earliest coins of Mexico are typically rather pretty, with judicious use of expertly crafted punches in artistic symmetry, struck on broad, round planchets of even thickness, the only typical limitations to an individual coin's beauty being double-striking and poor centering. Despite the officially reported problems with minting the large 8 reales, this specimen shows very little doubling and rather good centering, and unlike the other public specimen it shows only a tiny bit of the effect of salt water between 2 and 3 o'clock on the obverse periphery. U.S. silver dollar collectors by now are quite familiar with the fact that Spanish colonial coins were legal tender in the U.S. until 1857, making the 8 Reales the true first dollars of the United States. The significance of the very first dollar struck in the Americas, three known, of which our specimen is definitely the finest, cannot be understated. It is also the first 8 Reales of Spain or the New World. This piece is toned an even slate-gray, nearly fully round, 27.18 gm, with full legends and is a pleasing XF in all respects. We invite you to participate in the first public offering of the most important Latin American coin ever brought to the auction floor, the Mexico, Carlos and Joanna, Rincon 8 Reales.