Mendoza succeeds in this task perfectly. The first production line of Mexican coins is installed in the private residence of Cortes in 1536. The first denomination is 3 reales. In the following year an imperial decree replaces this first coinage with two denominations, 8 reales and 4 reales. 8 reales is the standard of the large Spanish silver coin created in 1497, which will become the model of the US dollar.
Due to a suspicion of fraud, the imperial administration audits the Mexican currency in 1545. In 1947 a scholar studies the interviews of this investigation. In compliance to the decree, a production of the 8 reales had been tried. It was soon abandoned because it was too difficult to achieve with the rudimentary equipment installed in Mexico City.
Historians are delighted but numismatists are frustrated : in 1947, nobody had ever seen such an 8 reales coin. At the beginning of the 1990s, a search in a shipwreck brought back a treasure chest containing 2000 silver coins, including three of these legendary pieces.
The drawing of this coin displays the Pillars of Hercules linked by a banner with the word PLUS, a summary of Charles V's motto indicating that the Strait of Gibraltar is no longer a limit for the imperial ambitions. The inscription Hispanie and Indiarum Re qualifying Charles and his mother Joanna leaves no doubt about this interpretation. This figure is at the origin of the modern sign of the dollar ($) according to the most probable hypothesis.
The coins have an irregular outline and a double hammering, confirming the difficulty of manufacture. They have the mark of the assayer R (Rincon), active from 1536 to 1538, replaced in the following year by the assayer P.
The three Mexican coins found in the wreck thus become the oldest American precursors of the US dollar. They are separated. The first auctions are organized too early, without the collectors being convinced about the real progress of the wreck inventory. In fact no other coin of 8 reales has surfaced.
The three units were graded by NGC. The best, AU-50, was sold for $ 374K including premium by Heritage on January 9, 2006. It is estimated $ 500K for sale by Heritage in Philadelphia on August 17, lot 30386. The coin graded EF-40 was sold for $ 310K including premium by Goldberg on May 26, 2008. The XF-45 was sold for $ 590K including premium by Sedwick on November 6, 2014.
SOLD for $ 530K including premium