Cartagena RN & N(E)R mintmarks - combined
by Herman Blanton

New Discovery of Colombian coin type: Cartagena 8 reales ca. 1627-1633

Numismatist Daniel Sedwick alerted me to a Cartagena cob that has the mint mark RN to the right of the shield. Comparison with a similar coin in my collection identifies both pieces having been made from very similar if not identical punches. Neither coin has full details, but by mentally "re-constructing" a composite from the two coins, it can clearly be seen that the coins have two complete sets of mint marks, a previously unreported type for the Cartagena mint.

The Cartagena mint operated sporadically between 1622 and 1655, and used four (4) different mintmarks; S, RN, NR and C. The RN mint mark was used in the first year of mint operation, 1622,  by assayer "A", possibly Iñigo de Alvis.  Assayer "E", possibly Echeverría, looks to have used the RN mintmark from 1627 to 1630 and in 1633, however additional dates could yet be discovered. In the Christensen auction of May 14, 1982, lot 216, there was a 1626 2 reales RN (E), with the E inferred, therefore the coins could have been struck as early as 1626.  See table 1 for a list of dated coins.

For information on the Cartagena mint see Lasser in the reference section at the end of this article.

Coin numbers below refer to numbers that the author assigned in the web site Colombian Silver Cobs..

     #1810 weight 26.782 grams

#1818 weight 27.174 grams

Click on image to enlarge in new window

Close up of the RN mintmark
beneath the VIII

Coin #1810 is from Ponterio auction sale 106, April 7 & 8, 2000, lot 1619. The coin is identified in the Ponterio catalog as a product of the Santa Fe (Bogotá) mint, but an announcement made during the sale clarified the attribution as Cartagena. When I first examined this coin I saw something to the right side of the shield beneath the denomination VIII. There is not enough of the characters visible to read them, I thought that the bottom character might be an X. Looking to the left of the shield, notice the mint mark NR and the large assayer mark "E" between the NR of the mintmark, for a vertical grouping of NER.

Coin #1818 is reported to come from a "Black Sea" hoard of mostly Spanish cobs but with some México and Potosí cobs as well. The RN mintmark beneath the denomination VIII to the right of the shield is clear, even though the area above the mintmark, including the VIII is double struck. The NER to the left of the shield is not clear, with only the N being visible.

Characteristics common to both coins:

Shield Style
Shield width - 22 mm
Number, style and location of lily flowers in New Burgundy
Location of RN mint mark
Style of tail on the Brabant lion
Denomination VIII reads down and in same location
Legend stops are a cross of five dots
Thick cross arms, #1818 is even thicker though
Castles have tall towers
Right towers have 3 sharp points

A major difference in the reverse design, coin #1810 has brace design at cross ends instead of arcs; coin # 1818 has arcs, which is the standard configuration for Spanish cobs. Christensen also has an NER Cartagena cob with braces at cross ends, lot # 213.

My search for other coins of this type produced one other, for a total of three (3) pieces. It is Cayón # 5838 and the photo shows a letter N and part of another letter (R?) immediately below the VIII of the denomination, exactly the same location, but not the same order, as on the two coins illustrated here.  The Cayón coin has a partial date of (1)62(X).

Cayón 5838 - Click on image to enlarge in new window
images of 5838 copyright Cayón, used with permission


Table 1

1628 RNE 4 reales Calicó (Felipe IV) #617B, Lasser (1992)  plate 13 (not in Lasser 2000) 
1628 RNE 2 escudos Restrepo M52-6, Lasser (2000) M52C-6
1629 RNE 2 escudos Calicó  (Felipe IV) # 133
1630 RNE 4 reales Restrepo M36-3, Lasser (2000) M36C-3
1633 RNE 8 reales Lasser (2000) M45C-12
Table 1 lists published illustrations of  assayer "E" dated coins with the RN mintmark. There are other dates for Assayer "E" using different mint marks.

Works referenced:
Blanton, Herman.  Web Site: Colombian Silver Cobs. Page: Cob 1810eng.htm. last modified April 22, 2000.

Cayón, Adolfo, Clemente & Juan Cayón
Las Monedas Españolas, Del tremis al euro, Del 411 a nuestros días. Madrid, 1998, 1270 pp., distributed by Jano S.L.:, Alcalá, 35:, 28014 Madrid.
Christensen, Henry, Inc
. May 14, 1982 Auction catalog sale 80, Treasures of the Concepción. Madison, New Jersey.
Lasser, Joseph R. "The Cobs of Cartagena, 1622 - 1655", pp. 117-122, plates 13 and 14. American Journal of Numismatics 3-4 Second Series, continuing The American Numismatic Society Museum Notes, published by American Numismatic Society, New York, 1992.
Lasser, Joseph R. & Jorge Emilio Restrepo. The Cob Coinage of Colombia 1622 - 1756. 150 pp., pub. by Pertinax Press, New York, 2000. Second edition with emendations and two essays. Translated and Edited by William L. Bischoff.
Ponterio & Associates.  2000.  "C.I.C.F.Y2K" in Public Auction Catalog of Sale #106.  San Diego, CA.
Restrepo, Dr. Jorge Emilio & Lasser, Joseph R
. Macuquinas de Colombia (The Cobs of Colombia, South America) 110 pp., pub. by author in Medellín, Colombia 1998. First edition, Spanish.

Thanks to Daniel Sedwick,  & Dr. Jorge Restrepo for information and for reviewing the article.  Thanks to Cayón - Jano S.L. for use of their image.

All rights reserved by the author. The author grants non-exclusive rights to Numismatics International print and internet publication, and to Círculo Numismático Antioqueño for print and internet publication.
page created 16-June-2001, last modified 07-July-2001