Our Treasure of the Month for January is a most unusual item, a partially encrusted Mexico eight reales. Although coins from the 1715 Fleet covered with ocean deposits (hence the term “encrusted”) have been found over the years, but not many like this. The majority of encrusted coins that we have encountered (and featured here on our website) are almost completely encrusted as found, or nearly so. We are aware of instances where completely encrusted coins have had part of the encrustation removed in an effort to identify the coin by date or mint, but our featured coin does not appear to fall within that category.
Our subject coin weighs 29.83 grams which accounts for the encrustation as well. It would be impossible to determine the exact weight of the silver coin here because of the encrustation but, based upon what is visible and the condition of the coin, a 25 gram estimate would be reasonable.
Upon close examination the large patch of encrustation contains colorful bits of orange and gray shells along with other ocean deposits. The obverse displays a nicely-centered, almost full shield. The reverse, a bit more corroded, shows the hint of a cross. Overall, a solid coin.
For comparison please see our Treasure of the Month for January, 2022. There, some of the coins are partially encrusted but none are as unique as our featured treasure for this month. How our coin came to have such an unusual appearance is a mystery. Was it part of a larger group of coins that was partially exposed to ocean deposits? Was it a single coin that remained partially buried for centuries? Regardless of the reason it still remains an intriguing item.
Special thanks to Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC and Connor Falk for providing information and images used in this post. Ben Costello.