October 2011 Treasure of the Month

October’s Treasure of the Month is this nifty little silver ingot salvaged from the 1715 Fleet. It weighs a hefty 21.5 troy ounces with dimensions of 11 x 3.1 x 2.9 cm. Notice the sugar-loaf tapered shape, with many tiny pits from the smelting process. The absence of any markings means this was a privately and illegally produced bar being smuggled back to Spain. If it had been produced at an official Spanish Colonial foundry, it would have had assay and foundry marks, plus a quinto, an excise stamp signifying that 20 percent had been paid to the royal treasury. If it were being legally exported to Spain, it also would have had owner’s and shipper’s marks, plus a mark signifying that the avería, or defense tax, had been paid. By private manufacture and smuggling, the ingot’s original owner was evading taxes amounting to about 40 percent of the value of the bar, and he risked confiscation, fines, and criminal penalties if caught. The unlucky owner of this bar is not known. The bar was allegedly found by the Real Eight Company at a site just south of Sebastian Inlet known as the Cabin Wreck.  More about this bar and other treasure bars from the 1715 Fleet can be found in Chapter 9 of Spanish Treasure Bars From New World Shipwrecks (En Rada Publications, 2003) by Alan K. Craig and Ernest J. Richards, Jr.

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