An Artistic Jewel of the Period and the Finest Known of the DateFelipe III Royal 8 Reales 1609 Mo-A, Lazaro-35 (this coin). AU55 NGC. Ex: Huntington Collection. Minimal wear, attractive old toning, and slight (non-distracting) doubling in the obverse's legends. Also well struck, as can be expected from a fully round piece. An old rubbing of this coin is plated by Lazaro as his #35. Numerous common details between the actual coin and that rubbing can be found, the most telling perhaps being the small planchet flaw between the "H" and the "I" in "PHILLIPVS" and the small nick on the shield to the left of the "8", both on the obverse. An examination of the actual coin allows for further detail. It has a perfect coin rotation (Lazaro guessed a somewhat shifted one) - a further testimony to the great care that was taken in its striking , and it is also of the same type as Lazaro #36 - since the legend on the obverse also ends with a four pointed star. Thus Lazaro's 35 and 36 are only different die varieties of the same subtype.
The true nature of the "Royal" coinage is still subject to debate. Although clearly not restricted to be presentation coins to the King himself (many found in fact their way into circulation more than two centuries later, as evidenced by the few specimens existing with the Guatemala series of revalidation countermarks applied in the 1840s), these pieces were undoubtedly special items. Many of the coins countermarked in Guatemala show little circulation, pointing to their hoarding during the mentioned 200-year interval. In addition, that they were prized items suitable as gifts from special occasions can be deduced from a little known reference by Mexican numismatist Romero de Terreros: quoting the work Diario de sucesos notables : 1665-1703, by Antonio de Robles, he wrote that on May 16 sup th /sup , 1703 a comedy in the honor of the Viceroy and Duke of Albuquerque was given at the Mint (of Mexico), the cost of which was covered by its Treasurer don Francisco de Medina Picazo, who is said to have given to each of the Viceroys and to their daughter one thousand pesos manufactured in the style of the segovian ones. This is a clear reference to the round pieces of eight struck in Segovia at that time (perhaps KM227?) and thus a contemporary description of the Mexican "Royal" 1703 8 Reales. If coins of this type were worthy as gifts to the Viceroy of New Spain, they are surely worthy of the finest cabinets of our time!
Being the finest of two known of this date, and among the first dated "Royal" 8 Reales of the Mexico City mint, this jewel represents a striking testimony of that mint's technical and artistic capabilities at that time. A very special rarity, and should attract serious interest.
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