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An Unusual Underweight (5.2 Grams) 1721 Spanish Pistareen

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 Posted 12/04/2022  7:21 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add colonialjohn to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Have not dissected it yet using KM but the coin weighs 5.2 grams on a slightly oversized flan. Any thoughts preferably negative. <BG>

Pay particular attention to its motifs and not so much its underweight - some people are not certain its a contemporary circulating counterfeit or so the dealer told me but that its VERY PECUILIAR in its design features. Supposedly not KM listed based on its attributes.

SPECIFICATIONS from NGC on a real (regal) Spain 2 Reales KM#307:

Composition: Silver

Fineness: 0.9030

Weight: 6.7700g

ASW: 0.1965oz

Melt Value: $4.59 (12/4/2022)

Obverse: Crowned arms with rounded bottom

Obverse Legend: PHILIPPUS V D G

Reverse: Cross with castles and lions in octolobe


Ruler: Philip V
Edited by colonialjohn
12/04/2022 7:36 pm
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 Posted 12/04/2022  7:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Hondo Boguss to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
John, 5.2 g as opposed to 6.77 g nominal? Why might that be? Apply Occam's Razor.
Inordinately fascinated by bits of metal with strange markings and figures
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 Posted 12/04/2022  8:52 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add colonialjohn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
When I told him its probably a contemporary circulating counterfeit (CCC) possibly of high tin or debased silver he mentioned several experts one being a noted Rhode Island collector with initials RA mentioned it could be something else as a test trial, weird mule, not sure - sometimes there is a quick answer just hoping someone like realeswatcher can shed some light before I did deeper into another possibility other than a CCC. At this point I consider an underweight CCC - note when comparing to a regal the crown and other details are OFF for this 1721F KM#297 issue struck in the Segovia Mint. JPL
Edited by colonialjohn
12/04/2022 9:44 pm
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 Posted 12/06/2022  12:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add realeswatcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As we've discussed on here a few times before, "nominal" vs. observed specifications of peninsular Spain 2 Reales "pistareens" are a mess to sort out... and that complicates deciphering which pieces may be contemporary counterfeits. Krause lists all of them - from the shield-style issues produced until 1771 continuing through the portrait issues up to 1833 - at the "old-style" weight of 6.77g., similar to the colonial pillar and portrait milled issues.

I'm not exactly sure what Krause's source for that weight was - believe I've seen some reference saying that "officially", that was what they were listed at? However, this is definitely not what they were in practice. Basically from around 1730 through 1833, they kind of standardized at right around 6.0g as made. The finenesses that Krause that shows (reduced from .903 to .833 than to .812) DO sort of reflect reality - see the measures pasted below.

Long story short, the peninsular 2R (and correspondingly the 1R and 1/2R) were debased (by reducing both weight and fineness) to where 10 of them added up to an 8R "peso duro" coin... rather than the traditional 8 as was still the case in the Latin American colonies.

Now, the pieces of the early 1700s period (basically up into the late 1720s or so - the dates which were exported to and used in Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas in large numbers) are ALLLLLLL over the place in terms of observed weights. Certainly there are a LOT of contemporary counterfeits of those dates, and obviously the weights on them are going to vary greatly, but I'm speaking of pieces which by die work, surfaces, metal content, etc. appear to be "regal".

Anyway, John... not even looking in great detail at the particular design elements, that piece very much presents as genuine "regal". Looks like good silver and has a typical rocker press appearance.

I wouldn't go crazy picking apart design elements - these early 1700s pistareens were produced in large numbers and punch variety is observed. Just off the top of my head, recalling certain dates/mints I've done searches on, you'll often find a good bit of variety within a given year/mint on pieces that present as regal.

I will say, from doing a quick run through ACsearch, I'm surprised how many 1721 Segovia pieces present with surprisingly HIGH weights for the period. Usually the late 1710s-early 1720s dates present in the 5._g range... sometimes even down below 5.0g into the 4s. However, a number of pieces with provided weights check in at over 6.0g:

There's a decent primer article on these from the C4 newsletter back in April 2001:
"When Cross Pistareens Cut Their Way Through the Tobacco Colonies"
by Thomas A. Kays; Alexandria, VA

Also, read the section on Spain silver from the contemporary Eckfeldt & DuBois reference from p. 119 following:

Edited by realeswatcher
12/06/2022 08:54 am
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 Posted 12/06/2022  12:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add colonialjohn to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well I think you supplied the answer -the weight can go down to 5.0 grams or so and design elements are not universally a KILLER in these being regal. Do different design elements then really add value to these pieces?

Here is your response on that (VERY COMMON) 1833 Spanish 2 Pistareen fake back in April, 2012 with Gurney which appears to be silver plated over a Cu host:

Based on my experience the 1833 counterfeits are very common - they are usually high grade -

That's definitely the case... have also never seen any that seem to have anything more than light handling wear, though they do often display some corrosion due to their nature.

However, the idea that original specimens of 2 "reales de plata" had a higher intristic value than their theoretical equivalent, the 4 "reales de vellon" (as represented by the Joseph Napoleon coinage and that of Isabella II), and thus would have been driven out of circulation, is predicated on the incorrect reporting of the specifications of the Spain 1772-1833 "reales de plata" (halfR, 1R, 2R)... namely by the Krause book. Krause shows the Spain bust 2R, for example, as being 6.77g (same weight, essentially, as the "old standard" which the colonies had continued minting), though with a lowered silver fineness of 0.8125. While that quoted fineness is probably what they were using, the weight given for this coinage is simply wrong. A Spain bust 2R as struck seems to have weighed in just below 6.0g (high 5.9 range). I've never seen an exact explanation of why Krause confusingly provides a blatantly incorrect weight... However, I've seen speculation that this is due to Krause simply regurgitating what Spain "officially" reported about their coinage at the time, the idea being that Spain was trying to maintain some sort of illusion regarding their coinage.

Now, the conversion system for these two confusingly similarly-named systems was 8 "reales de plata" to 20 "reales de vellon"... Further muddying this is the fact that due to the earlier "tinkering" with the "reales de plata", the homeland Spain minor denominations of 2R, 1R, and half R had been reduced by roughly 20% as compared to the old standard (which again, was still used on Spain's COLONIAL output). In the English world, we called this devalued coinage "new plate" (a ba$tardized translation); note that the "pistareen", particularly common in the U.S. South, was used as a 20 cent piece once we adopted our dollar, the silver content of which was VERY close to the "peso", aka 8 Reales.... Under that conversion, it now took FIVE homeland Spain "2 reales" coins to equal a full "peso duro" (or old standard 8 reales) as opposed to four. Thus, the Spain BUST 2R, 1R, and half real "de plata" equated to the 4R, 2R, and 1R "de vellon". Now, if we figure the known TRUE weight of the Spain bust 2R (call it 6.0g even) and use the quoted 0.8125 fineness figure (I believe I've seen something that indicated the mid-1700's pistareens have indeed been found to test close to this figure), you end up with something very close to the known .157 troy oz. ASW of the "vellon" 4 Reales...

PS - Spain had been messing with the content of the "real de plata"-type homeland 2R, 1R, and half real (and for a while, the 8R and 4R also, though they eventually returned to the old standards on those two) back to the late 1600s, through all of the "pistareen" type round shield coinage... In the early 1700's, that coinage varied widely in terms of gross weight and the fineness of the alloy. By the mid-1700's, they seem to have settled on something similar the specs seen on the bust coinage that followed, as discussed above.

Just never went deep or even shallow on Pistareen CCC 2R's. JPL

Edited by colonialjohn
12/06/2022 12:31 pm
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