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January 2012 Treasure of the Month

This month’s featured offering is a rare 1715 Fleet coin with political significance. It is the only surviving gold coin struck by the Lima mint in 1701 in the name of Philip V. The reference books say there was no gold coinage in the name of Philip V until 1702, but here is Lima 1701/0 Lima eight escudos boldly displaying Philip’s name! Philip’s succession to the Spanish throne started a war in 1701 that would last a dozen years. In the early years of the war, many people thought Philip’s rival, the Hapsburg Carlos III, would win. Colonial mints, cut off from Spain by the hostile British navy, hesitated to declare their loyalty, but, as this coin attests, the viceroy of El Peru, Melchor Portocarrero, did not hesitate long. Why did Portocarrero take this risky step and immediately declare himself in Philip’s camp by ordering a 1701 Philippus coinage? That is a topic for future research.

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