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Venezuela: Ferdinand VII Real 1817-BS,...

2014 April 10-12 & 15-16 CICF World and Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Chicago #3032

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Auction Ended On: Apr 12, 2014
Item Activity: 6 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel
5440 N. River Rd.
Rosemont, IL 60018

Probably the Finest Caracas Real 1817 in Private Hands
Ferdinand VII Real 1817-BS, Caracas mint, KM 5.2, Stohr-10-C5, AU53 NGC. Little wear over the higher points including the central dots but obviously unmolested and original surfaces with gorgeous dark bluish and gray toning. Struck a bit off-center but that does not detract in any way from the coin's attractiveness. The variety with the Castle and Lion in the first two quadrants on the cross side. This is the rarest Caracas silver colonial issue in truly amazing condition!

In the early period of the War for Independence, the Royalist Caracas provisional mint issued imitation cobs starting in 1812. Beginning on May 13, 1816, steps towards the reorganizing and modernization of the mint were taken under General Morillo himself, and the mintage the better quality fully round silver coins known as (Reales) morilleros started in 1817. These silver coins carried the B. S. initials for Bartolome Salinas and were struck until 1821 (copper ΒΌ and 1/8 Reales were also minted). Most of the coins struck in silver were of 2 Reales, with far more specimens of that denomination being extant than of the other two denominations (1 Real and 4 Reales) combined. All these coins were readily accepted (and in particular the 2 Reales) as proven by the low grade of most surviving specimens and two additional telling facts: the relative abundance of contemporary counterfeits 2 Reales struck in German silver, and also the fact that the Republican authorities in 1830 reused this same design (albeit without the King's initials "F.7") to mint 2 Reales themselves. Both of the other two silver morilleros denominations, 1 Real and 4 Reales, are rare type coins. Among these two types, the rarest coin is the 1817 1 Real, and that status has been acknowledged for decades: early works such as the Catalogo de Monedas Venezolanas by Celis & Brito already called it the "rarest coin in the Venezuelan series". This is consistent with historical data since it was minted only in two days (July 10 and August 10 of 1817) with a total mintage of ca. 6,500 pieces (the lowest of the series of 1 Real). Census by local experts in Venezuela such as L. Ponte estimate that less than ten coins exist of this variety, including the ones impounded in the ANS collection and the FNMT in Madrid (finest seen by the cataloguer). Around 12 specimens of the other variety (Lion-Castle) are accounted for, with many also impounded in institutional holdings. Most of the specimens of both varieties  are in low grade, and worn coins tend to be unattractive in appearance since they were of only around 0.750 fineness to begin with. To the knowledge of the cataloguer, only four pieces have changed hands in the last 15 years: a coin offered by a local firm in Venezuela in 2004, a VG holed piece (Ponterio 4/1997, lot 3820), the plugged VF recently sold in Spain (Aureo 3/2012, lot 1507 for E11,000) and the nice XF specimen housed in the Ferdinand VII collection offered by the Cercle Filatelic y Numismatic of Barcelona a few years back (3/2000). The present coin is perhaps two numerical grades finer than the latter specimen. It is the finest seen by the cataloguer, and very probably represents the finest 1817 Caracas 1 Real in private hands. Needless to say, this numismatic prize of Venezuelan numismatics will surely attract spirited bidding.

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