The First Mexican Royal found on the Fleet

Phil Flemming

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The first Division between the State of Florida and Real 8 & its associates occurred on July 21, 1964. Among the 3376 gold coins divided were 15 Mexican galanos, which had already begun to be called “royals”. Real 8, due 25% of the Division, kept 12 galanos. Among them, a beautiful 1711 4 escudos galano. All of the gold coins had been found between May 21 and June 30 on the Douglass Beach site. If Lou Ullian’s memory was correct, this was the first of the galanos.

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Real 8 was eager to raise some money and looked for ways to sell some of its gold, though it knew almost nothing about its coins or about how to sell them. Kip was acquainted with the coin dealer Henry Christensen and an auction sale of 100 coins was hastily arranged for October 8. Real 8 decided to include 3 galanos in its consignment. The Mexican 1711 4 escudos went to auction with the 1695 Mexican 8 escudos and a Mexican 1702 8 escudos. Christensen balked at calling them Royals, thereby endorsing the conjecture that they were special productions for the King. No documentary evidence had or has ever supported this conjecture, and it seems more than unlikely. Some “salesman” in Real 8 or their advisors quickly hatched the royal conjecture in the summer of 1964 and we are still dealing with it today. The statute of limitations has long expired, but I would still love to know who started calling these coins “royals”.

Real 8 was satisfied with the sale, although in fact, they had given away many great rarities at ridiculous prices. Neither the sellers nor buyers had had time to study Spanish Colonial gold of this period. The unique 1695 8 escudos galanos, for example, sold to Calico for $3500. Now surely worth more than a half million dollars and even in 1964, worth several times what Calico had paid. The star of the sale was our little 1711 4 escudos which edged out the 1695 and 1702 8 escudos. 

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Apparently, our 1711 was off the market for the next 45 years until the Caballeros de las Indias Sale in 2019. In the meantime, eight more 1711 galanos showed up on Fleet sites. A 1711 4 escudos was no longer a rare coin in galanos terms. Collectors were not put off and greeted the return on our 1711 galanos with a 56,600 euros winning bid. It sold again in 2002 and 2012, it rose to 63,700 euros. Then it reappeared this January in a Stack’s auction, now encapsulated in a NGC holder graded “MS 66 Royal Coinage”. I knew I could get NGC to ditch the “Royal Coinage”, and I thought I finally had a shot by committing $150,000 against a high estimate of $100,000. I was never in the game. It sold for $264,000.

1715 Fleet Society 1st Mexican Royal Found 3 Altamira

Finally we should say a little about the politics and artistic merit of our 1711 galanos’ cross design, usually called the Cross with Crosslets or the Cross Fleury. In late 1710 the office of Tallador Mayor was purchased by the richest man in Mexico, Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, soon to be created the Second Marquis of Altamira. Don Pedro despised the previous virrey, the Duke of Albuquerque, and celebrated his departure with a spate of changes, including any permissible changes in the coinage designs associated with the previous virrey. Two new cross designs premiered in 1711 including our Cross Fleury design. Unfortunately, Don Pedro’s engravers had great difficulty in executing the Cross Fleury design, and by 1713 it was clear this design was not successful. Cross Fleury escudos were minted only in 1711-13.

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