Description:These Spanish gold 1/2 escudo coins were minted in Madrid Spain during the reign of Ferdinand VI. The obverse side features the bust of King Ferdinand VI and the reverse shows his crowned coat of arms. Ferdinand VI, of the Bourbon Dynasty, was King of Spain from 1746 until his death in 1759. The 18th century was a prosperous time for the Spanish Empire in the Americas as trade within grew steadily. The Bourbon reforms of Ferdinand VI and his father Philip V included a major modernization of the Spanish Navy. They also began registering individual merchant ships (rather than private monopolized fleets), which led to much greater revenues from the Americas.
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 expanded 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.
Gold coins, known as "escudos", were decreed by the King to be 22 karats. There were five denominations in gold, the largest was the 8 escudos and the smallest was the 1/2 escudo. The wage for a common worker in the 18th century was around a half escudo per month.