Description:This silver coin was minted in Mexico City in the mid 16th century. Coins struck during this time in this newly discovered Spanish territory, are among the first coins minted in the New World. This Mexican mint opened in 1535 under the joint reign of mother “Johanna the Mad” and her son Charles I. During their reign, the territories in New Spain were considerably extended by conquistadores like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, who caused the Aztec and Inca empires to fall in little more than a decade.
When King Charles abdicated his throne in 1566 and his son Philip II became king, the Mexican mint continued to strike this style of coinage in the name of Charles I until 1571. Minted in five denominations in silver, the largest was the 8 reales, which was famous in the colonies and among pirates as a “piece of eight”. This 4 reales coin features the Charles & Johanna coat of arms on the obverse and the Pillars of Hercules on the reverse.
With the discovery of untold riches that were mined in the Americas, the Spanish became the premier supplier of gold and silver coins for the world. This vastly increased trade and made many merchants wealthy, both in Spain and in the Colonies. However, during this adventurous age, it was inevitable that large amounts of Spanish treasure would be lost on land and at sea due to pirates, storms and other unforeseen misfortunes.