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Piece of Eight Silver Coin– Now That’s an Antique!

Atocha cross

We were thrilled to acquire this pendant featuring an authentic Piece of Eight silver coin from the most valuable sunken treasure ever found.

In 1985, after 16 years of searching, famed (and persistent) treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered the mother lode of all treasures off the Florida Keys. Valued at over 500 million dollars, the Atocha treasure contained tons of silver coins and bars along with gold objects, jewelry and gems.

On September 5,1622, heavily laden and bound for Spain from Havana with 28 other ships, the galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha was driven on to a reef in the Florida straits by a hurricane. The immense treasure, which took over two months to load and record, was supposed to pay the debts of King Philip IV. As a result of this loss, Spain gradually withdrew from the Caribbean, leaving it to French and British influence. In a sense, the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and countless historical events in the Americas were directly linked to the wreck of the Atocha.

The peso de ocho, also known as the Spanish dollar, enjoyed world wide acceptance from 1497 onward. In fact, it was the coin on which the original United States dollar was based and remained legal tender in the US until the coinage act of 1857. Talk about historical significance!

These coins owe their odd shape to the method of manufacture. The Spaniards enslaved the indigenous people of the Americas to mine and mint these coins. After refining, the silver was cast into crude bars. The individual coins were cut from these bars, then clipped by the assayer to the proper weight. Once they were clipped, each side was struck with hammer and crude hand held dies.

Our attractive coin is mounted in a 14K gold frame and is suspended on a 20″ Byzantine style chain. The coin is from the Potosi Mint in Peru, dated circa 1618 – 1621– note the P mint mark on the Shield side. It’s almost 400 years since it was struck! Now that’s an antique!


Atocha shield
Spanish Shield with P mint mark

We have the original documentation and grading from Mel Fisher. It’s an 8 reale coin, grade 3. Our Potosi coin has the Cross of Leon on one side, showing the Lion of Leon and the Castle of Castile, while the reverse has the Hapsburg shield, the denomination, the mint mark and the assayer’s mark.

You can still buy something very similar from Mel Fisher’s company for ~$2700. Ours, including the grand chain is $1250.

Our vintage and antique jewelry department is always brimming with surprises and delights. Stop by the shop Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 am to 5;30 pm to see this and other treasures.

james l. sweaney cga fga. gg

james l. sweaney cga fga. gg

james l. sweaney cga fga. gg

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