1770 Pillar Dollar From Colombia's Neuvo Reino Mint Not Previously Known Sold by Heritage Auctions

by Mark Borckardt

During Spain's rule over much of the New World, the use of its coinage was widespread. Colonial mints in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala and Chile produced various coins, including silver Reales.

By the second half of the 18th century, the Spanish milled dollar or "Pillar Dollar," minted from 1732 to 1773, was circulating throughout the world, even serving as standard currency in the United States. Its usage was so widespread that some historians argue its pillars with scrolls running across them inspired the creation of the $ symbol.

Until recently, most if not all Pillar Dollars were believed documented. But three years ago, a small group of Pillar Dollars struck at the Nuevo Reino mint in Colombia was found amid the ruins of Bogota's Nuestra Señora del Pilar church, which was founded in 1770 and destroyed during civil unrest in the early 1950s. Since there are no records of 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillars, it is likely that the pieces were produced specifically for the church and placed in its foundation, says Cristiano Bierrenbach, director of international sales at Heritage.

All 14 Pillar Dollars, minted during the reign of King Carlos III, were acquired by the same person. The finest example from the batch realized $80,500 at Heritage Auctions' World & Ancient Coin Signature® Event in May 2009.

"The amazing thing about this Pillar Dollar," Bierrenbach says, "is that we can actually trace it to the day and place of its minting. The entire history of this coin, and the reason for which it was created, is right on its face."

Carlos III Pillar 8 Reales 1770NR-VJ, KM39 (Date Unlisted), Calico 1000, Cayon Unlisted, graded MS64 by NGC.
Sold: Heritage Auctions, May 2009, $80,500.

Heritage Magazine Summer/Fall 2009 Copyright ©2009 by Heritage Auctions, Inc.

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