A Legendary RarityGuadalajara. Ferdinand VII gold 4 Escudos 1812 Ga-MR XF45 NGC, Guadalajara mint, KM147, Cal-128. A lustrous and well struck coin, with little actual high-point wear and a few handling marks on the obverse fields preventing a higher designation, yet exceptionally attractive for this legendary and highly significant issue.The War of Independence issues rank among the more interesting and challenging ones of the entire Mexican Series, containing many of its more important rarities. Among the latter, the Guadalajara mint gold issues are in a class of their own: Guadalajara was the only provisional royalist mint authorized to issue gold coinage, and did so in very limited quantities. Nevertheless, the coins thus minted span almost the entire period of the War of Independence struggle, first issued during 1812 and 1813 at the initial period of the conflict and then again in 1821, only a few months before Mexican independence was finally attained. Only five different types and two denominations (8 Escudos and 4 Escudos) were apparently minted as regular issues, with a 1 Escudo dated 1812 also known in trial strike / pattern form (in silver, dated 1812) although others could also have been issued (see commentary following). It is therefore not an extensive series by any means. Nevertheless, each of those types are very rare, two of them extremely so. As a whole, the Guadalajara Colonial gold series is therefore among the more significant of the entire Spanish Colonial gold series.The rarest gold issues of this colonial provisional mint are the early ones of 1812-1813 assayed by Manuel Rivera (initials "M. R.") which is hardly surprising since the total combined amount issued for those two years confirmed from archival sources was a paltry 3861 pesos. Interestingly, Lucas Alaman comments in appendix 4 of his work "Historia de Mejico" (1849): "in addition to the amount indicated of minted silver in the years 1812-1813, gold coins of onzas and escudos of 1 Peso - a 1/2 Escudo or escudito coin was worth 8 Reales or 1 silver Peso)". This odd (not even) amount of 3861 pesos could well mean that the ½ Escudo denomination was also struck among the early issues of Guadalajara. All these initial 1812-1813 gold issues were produced under dire circumstances with locally engraved dies, and, while obviously imperfect and crude, they also exude character. Among the confirmed denominations, the rarest undoubtedly corresponds to the present coin, with only four examples known to the cataloguer:
- the Carles Tolra specimen (plated ad No. 1920 in the work "Catalogo de la coleccion numismatica Emilio Carles Tolra", 1936). Later sold as lot 133 in the little known 1943 sale "Monedas Antiguas Españolas" (organized by the Spanish Numismatic Association on June 6, 1943). Same specimen as the Calico plate coin (plated as Tipo 27/ No. 128 in the work "Numismatica Espanola") and also plated on page 65 - as from the collection of one Juan M. Sanchez in Madrid - in Medina's "Las Monedas Obsidionales Hispanoamericanas" (1919). In comparable condition to the present piece.
- the present specimen, ex Norweb collection, part 2 (Christie's Dallas 11/1985, lot 524 for $40,700).
- a specimen in a private collection in Mexico, not seen by the cataloguer but reportedly in high grade.
- a lower grade specimen recently found in Mexico.
To the knowledge of the cataloguer, this extremely rare type has only been offered publicly twice in the past 75 years. To consider the offering of the present handsome example a rare opportunity for the collector is indeed an understatement! One of the centerpieces of the Rudman collection, certain to keep that status in the next owner's collection, and the very coin that sets it apart from other offerings, as the most important group of Guadalajara gold colonial coins ever sold.
From The Rudman Collection of Mexican Coins
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