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    Remarkable 6 Florins Struck by the GWC

    Pernambuco. 6 Florins (120 Stuivers) Brazilian Ducat, KM6.2, Russo-4. About Uncirculated, 3.73 grams. Showing but a tad of wear on the higher points, while a spectacular strike and planchet combine to show all of border pearls on either side. Despite some darker patinated areas on the obverse and minute contact marks on the reverse, a coin with sensational eye-appeal. This choice specimen allows us to better understand some previously overlooked aspects of this fascinating and very rare series.

    Let us first recall a most interesting contemporary description of the melting and lamination of the gold to produce the planchets which would be used to strike the coins (quoting from Goncalves de Mello): "Having put the crucible filled with 20 marks of Guinea gold on the fire to be melted, the crucible cracked (all the way) from the bottom up to the top rim, and all the gold escaped through the crack and onto the ashes; having been recollected and purified, 10 marks (of this spilled gold) were placed in a new crucible close to the bellows, which in turn also cracked thus we only obtained 6 marks in usable planchets, with the rest spilled on the ashes. This crucible was repaired and again placed near the bellows and it provided with near 12 marks of good-quality planchets, with the balance being spilled over the ashes. This spilled gold was combined with more gold of Guinea for a total weighing 32 marks which were again placed in a crucible but, after being placed into the fire, it cracked from the top half way through the base, but it was possible to save half of this gold and turn it into planchets. Therefore, after the day was spent in these four exhausting melting operations, we were only able to obtain 39.5 marks in planchets, with the other 50 marks having to be picked up from the ashes. The efforts and losses incurred in these operations can be well understood by those knowledgeable on these matters".

    Another tedious aspect of the production process was the engraving of the dies. Documents indicate that Jan Bruynsvelt engraved 3 obverse and 3 reverse dies for the VI Florins (for which he also charged 5.12 florins per pair). In addition, he also produced repaired (or more accurately reworked, as we will see) dies, for which operation he charged 1.10 florins per die.

    As we have seen previously, the contemporary documentation gives ample evidence that these coins were mostly minted from gold that was brought in ships coming from Guinea. However, a recent article (Duttine et al: The first gold coins struck in Brazil: myth or reality? in Archeosciences 33, 2009, pp. 309-312) shows that the gold used to strike some of these coins (four coins dated 1645 and 1646 from the Museo Historico Nacional in Rio were analyzed) is different from the one used for the Islamic coins struck in Northern Africa with local gold and from the one used to strike the Portuguese coins during their control of Sao Jorge da Mina on the African Coast. Whether this shows that the gold carried in the Dutch ships was not from those mines, or that the analyzed Brazilian Ducats were struck from tableware gold remains an interesting point for further analysis.

    As a parting comment of this great rarity, let us recall another anecdote: when the Dutch finally surrendered to the Portuguese in 1654, the latter allowed the former to take their possessions without paying dues. The Dutch merchants requested that this exemption be extended to the sugar and the wood (mostly of the Caesalpinia echinata variety) but the Portuguese Governor Barreto de Menezes refused, indicating that these rights were to be paid in Portuguese money. His Dutch counterparts informed that they only disposed of Brazilian ducats, but received the following harsh reply: "that coinage is not welcomed in any location, since it was minted by them [Dutch] at a time of crisis..."

    The Portuguese were of course wrong, but they can perhaps be forgiven for not having the foresight to anticipate that almost 400 years later, any collector would willingly receive any of these coins, and as many as possible as a matter of fact! A choice example of a type of great rarity and historical importance, the present coin will undoubtedly elicit strong attention.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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