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Press Release - August 20, 2018

Spain’s Legendary ‘First Dollar of the Americas’ Auctioned for $528,000

Spanish 1538 8 Reales struck in Mexico City is finest of three known to exist

First Coin of the Americas Spain 8 Reales
DALLAS, Texas (Aug. 20, 2018) — The legendary "First Dollar of the New World," struck in Mexico City by the Spanish in 1538, sold for $528,000, Aug. 17, at an auction of ancient and world coins held by Heritage Auctions in Philadelphia.

The first dollar-sized coin struck in the Americas, it was minted under the joint Spanish reign of Charles I and his mother, Joanna. The 8 Reales auctioned is the finest of three known specimens, which made world history when salvaged in the 1990s from the northern Caribbean shipwreck of the "Golden Fleece."

"The bold design of Spain's 1538 8 Reales is highly symbolic," said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. "It signifies the end of the middle ages and establishes Spain's powerful accomplishment of settling the New World."

Native New World mint workers in Mexico City struck the silver coin about two years after the Spanish Empire opened a mint there in 1536. It features a Gothic style of numerous letters and the crowned royal shield of Spain. The reverse of the coin bears the Pillars of Hercules with a banner with the words 'PLVS,' or 'beyond,' which defies Spain's ancient motto Ne Plus Ultra, meaning 'nothing further beyond.'

"No major museum holds one of these three coins in its collections," Bierrenbach said, "and that's why auctions such as this are an extraordinary opportunity to own one of the world's historically most important coins."

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

The Internet's most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over one million registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of four million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.


Eric Bradley, Director, Public Relations
214-409-1871; EricB@HA.com

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