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One reale piece of Charles II of Spain

Over the years detectorists have unearthed a very wide range of foreign coins, most of which will have circulated in England. They will have passed for whatever the silver weight was worth in comparison to English coins.

Pictured here is a silver Spanish-American coin, which was found in Lincolnshire by Francis Phillips. On one side is a cross potent with a castle in two quarters and a lion in the other two.  On the other side all that can be seen of the legend, which is in three lines, is I SV 91. The single I indicates this is a one reale piece. SV is part of PLVS VLTRA, which is the national motto of Spain and translates as ‘Further (or More) beyond’. The 9 and 1 are the last two digits of the date, which will be 1691.

The information given above allows me to say that this coin is a one reale piece of Charles II of Spain, whose dates are 1665 to1700. The overall design points towards it being struck in Bolivia, which was a possession of Spain until the 19th century.

Because of their rough appearance coins like this one are known as cobs. The derivation comes from coba de barra, the literal meaning of which is ‘end of the bar’. This suggests that roughly shaped pieces were chopped off the end of silver bars and then struck with coin dies.


Francis said that the cob he found is only 14mm in diameter and weighs two grams. The size is small for a one reale piece and the weight for the denomination should be 3.375 grams. Therefore, it is underweight and its overall condition could be better. The lettering and date show up but the cross side is weak and very worn. It’s certainly unusual for a UK detecting find but it isn’t a rarity so my price range would be £15 – £20 at best.

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