Columnarios

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A Spanish colonial silver coin, minted in Potosi in 1768, featuring the columns and the hemispheres Potosi Real.jpg
A Spanish colonial silver coin, minted in Potosí in 1768, featuring the columns and the hemispheres

Columnarios are silver coins that were minted by Spain from 1732 to 1773 throughout its new colonies in present-day Latin America. While the majority of columnarios were struck in Mexico, smaller mints existed in Guatemala; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Potosí, Bolivia; and Colombia. The base denomination is an 8 reales coin (aka Piece of eight or Spanish dollar). Other minor denominations included 4 reales, 2 reales, 1 real, and 1/2 real. The 8 reales coin is the predecessor to the American dollar. Before the United States Mint was in production, columnarios circulated, along with other coinage, in the US colonies, as legal tender until the middle of the 19th century.

Silver Chemical element with atomic number 47

Silver is a chemical element with symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Latin America Region of the Americas where Romance languages are primarily spoken

Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Western Hemisphere where Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French are predominantly spoken; it is broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America. The term "Latin America" was first used in an 1856 conference with the title "Initiative of the America. Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics", by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was used also by Napoleon III's French government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas, along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed, including the Spanish-speaking portions of the United States Today, areas of Canada and the United States where Spanish, Portuguese and French are predominant are typically not included in definitions of Latin America.

Prior to the columnario, Spanish coins were hammer struck. These rather crude looking coins were called cobs. Clipping was a problem with cobs as it was easy to shave small amounts of silver from their edges, and although this action was punishable by death, it was still a widespread occurrence. The columnario, unlike the odd-shaped cob, is a round coin with milled edges which makes clipping detectable and less likely to occur.

The design of the columnario consists on the reverse of two worlds — representing the new world and old world — with a royal crown above. Below are the waves of the sea that separate the worlds and on the left and right are columns (hence the name "columnarios") representing the Pillars of Hercules adorned with crowns and wrapped with a banner spelling "PLUS ULTRA", meaning "more beyond". The reverse also has the letters "VTRAQUE VNUM", referring to the Old and New Worlds, "Both are One", and the date at the bottom, with mint marks on both sides.

Pillars of Hercules name applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar

The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar, Calpe Mons, is the Rock of Gibraltar. A corresponding North African peak not being predominant, the identity of the southern Pillar, Abila Mons, has been disputed throughout history, with the two most likely candidates being Monte Hacho in Ceuta and Jebel Musa in Morocco.

The obverse features the crown's name followed by "D G HISPAN ET IND REX", meaning, "By the Grace of God, King of Spain and the Indies." The assayer's mark is on the left and the denomination on the right of a large Spanish shield which is adorned with a royal crown atop. Various florets, rosettes, stops, and other features are used to separate features.

Metallurgical assay

A metallurgical assay is a compositional analysis of an ore, metal, or alloy.

The edge has a repeating laurel leaf design which is very difficult to counterfeit and is often used for authentication purposes.

Currently, the Mexican 8 reales columnario is worth US$200 or more, depending on condition. Specimens from other mints fetch much higher values due to their rarity.

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Spanish dollar Former coin of the Spanish Empire

The Spanish dollar, also known as the piece of eight, is a silver coin, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight Spanish reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire following a monetary reform in 1497.

Dollar coin (United States) $1 coins issued by the United States.

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Doubloon

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