For everyone who has dreamed of discovering a treasure chest of gold, silver and gemstones – perhaps the loot of a swashbuckling pirate of the Caribbean – take heart because this is the real thing. Spanish conquistadores and missionaries flocked to the americas in search of wealth or in hopes of spreading the gospel in the new world. Most of the mineral wealth they could gather was melted and turned into coins, which were struck, loaded onto ships, and sent across the Atlantic Ocean to the King of Spain.
Because of the haste from mine to mint, to shipping, and the crudity of the technology of the times, the detail of the coins is rarely clear. These historic coins are known to coin collectors as “Cobs”, an abbreviation of the Spanish term “Cabo de Barra,” meaning cut from the end of the bar. Although the full detail is rarely clear because of the resulting ragged shape, the featured side is a cross of the plainer sort, called as a “Jerusalem Cross.” The reverse shows a Coat of Arms of either the Hapsburgs or the Bourbons, powerful European families who ruled in Spain. Gold coins were referred to as Doubloons, a term originally from the word “double” for a two Escudo coin. The largest Escudo was an eight, so hence, the term “Pieces of Eight” to describe the smaller coins.