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A Majestic Colombian 1770 Pillar DollarCarlos III Pillar 8 Reales 1770NR-VJ, KM39 (Date Unlisted), Calico 1000, Cayon Unlisted, MS64 NGC. Few world crowns demand so much numismatic interest as the Columnarios or Pillar Dollars that were struck from 1732 to 1773 in numerous Spanish mint houses throughout the Americas. By the second half of the 18th century, the Pillar Dollar had become a true "world currency" being widely used in Europe, the United States (where it was legal tender), and the Far East. Both old and new worlds are depicted on the coin's obverse and are crowned between the two pillars of Hercules with legends "VTRAQUE VNUM" (both are one). On the reverse, the arms of Castille and Leon are displayed under the Spanish crown with the denomination "8" to the right, assayer initials to the left.
Of all the Pillar Dollars minted, the pieces struck in Santa Fe de Bogota, Nueva Granada (today Colombia) at the Nuevo Reino mint are perhaps the most desired among collectors and numismatists worldwide. The coins were only struck in 1759, 1762 and 1770--all are extremely rare with very few specimens known.
The 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillar Dollar was unknown to exist until about 3 years ago when exactly fourteen coins where found in the old foundations of the Nuestra Senora del Pilar church in Bogota. This church, which was also a convent and school for girls, existed from the 1770's until 1948 when it was set on fire during major riots in Bogota. The church was eventually torn down, and the area was turned into a parking lot. A few years ago, construction began on a new building. When crews dug up the parking lot, they found a small group of coins in the old church foundation--including the fourteen 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillars.
Spanish tradition says that when the first foundation stone is laid, it is blessed and in specific cases, the foundation is carved, engraved and coins are placed inside. Inside this stone, over 100 coins were found, most were cob 2 Reales, a few gold cobs, and numerous circulated Pillars from Mexico. Since there are no previous records of 1770 Nuevo Reino Pillars, it is likely that these pieces were struck specifically for the ceremonies at the Nuestra Senora del Pilar Church.
All of the coins found have been sold to private collectors and museums in Colombia and Spain. The original purchaser of the coins kept the two highest quality coins for himself, and the piece we present here is one of them. With an incredibly strong and sharp strike, most, if not all of the original luster is remaining. This coin will command lively competition, and once it is done, the Nueva Reino 1770 8 Reales will find a new home and become the centerpiece of a very advanced numismatic cabinet.
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