April 2022 Treasure of the Month

Our featured treasure for April is this double dated 1710 eight escudos from the Spanish colonial mint in Lima, Peru. As can be seen in the image a double dated coin contains two dates, one located in the bottom half of the coin and the second in the legend of the coin (at the 10:00 o’clock position). According to the letter that accompanies a picture of the coin, it was found in 1987 near Johns Island north of Vero Beach. This would place it at the Corrigan’s Beach wreck site. (Corrigan’s has been the site of many great treasure recoveries including the famous Tri-Centennial Hoard of 2015). As can be seen, the letter was written by Lou Ullian who was an original member of the famous Real Eight Company. Ironically it was sent to Dave Horner who himself was a famous author of shipwreck and treasure related books.

As will be discussed later, the letter appears to have been written as a photo-certificate prepared by Lou Ullian for Mr. Dave Horner who intended to buy the coin. The letter provides all of the pertinent details of the coin in anticipation of the sale ($12,250.00). This seems to be the case inasmuch as there is a handwritten note on the same letter by Lou Ullian in 1993 providing an updated appraisal ($18,000.00). All in all, a gorgeous coin with a rare double date.  Regrettably, only one side of the coin was featured in the letter. Although described as fully struck, what the cross side actually looked like would remain a mystery for several decades. This coin remained out of sight for over 25 years finally re-emerging in 2016 as Lot #13 in Sedwick Treasure Auction 19, as confirmed by our Advisory Board member Charlie Winn, who researches coin pedigrees from the 1715 Fleet.

1715 Fleet Society Sedwick Auction 19 1 e1648687928267
Horner Specimen double dated 1710 Lima eight escudos as it appeared in Treasure Auction 19.(Photo courtesy of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC)

There it is described as a choice specimen weighing 27.03 grams and exhibiting a full second date in the legend. Also, we were now able to get an opportunity to finally view the cross side. The cross, although slightly off center, was boldly struck confirming the description in Lou Ullian’s letter. There was some minor doubling of the cross but no obvious breaks or distortions which are common features of Lima mint crosses from this era. Some spotty encrustation in crevices on the surface of the coin adds character and is further evidence of the coin’s ocean origin. The description further references the July 15, 1990 letter as a photo-certificate from Lou Ullian and pedigreed to the Dave Horner Collection.

As the photo-certificate letter indicates, the Lima mint started to double date their gold coins in 1710. After discontinuing the practice in 1711 they resumed double dating their coins again in 1712 although the second date is often not visible.  As to why the Lima mint started double dating their coins in 1710, we do not know. Nor do we know why they paused this practice in 1711. There are no documents that we know of that mentions this procedure. Most of the 1710’s that show at least 50% of a legend date are described as double dated in auction catalogues. So, how many double dated coins exist is ambiguous. Most 1710’s do show some trace of a legend date.

One additional note regarding Lou Ullian’s letter is worth mentioning. He remarks in the final sentence that the coin pictured in his letter is only one of two double dated coins known to exist at that time. Below is a double dated 1710 with a photo-certificate letter prepared by Lou Ullian.

1710 Lima 8 Escudo

This letter describes a double dated 1710 Lima eight escudos found in the same general area as our featured Treasure of the Month. According to the letter, this coin was found in the summer of 1975. It was sold to a private collector by Lou Ullian in 2006. Could this be the other double dated 1710 referred to by Lou Ullian in his 1990 letter to Dave Horner?

letter3

Here is an image of a double dated 1712 found in 1964.

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