1636-1641 Mexico 4 Reales Cob From The Concepción Shipwreck
Item #CC-0450 | 1636-1641 Mexico 4 Reales Cob From the Concepcion Shipwreck
Assayer: “P” for Pedro Becerra (1634-1665)
Date: Not Visible
Ruler/Period: King Philip IV
Grade: NGC XF Details
Weight: 12.95 Grams
For more details on this coin from the NGC database, click here 6698792-009
Description: This well-preserved Spanish 4 reales cob displays very nice details on the obverse, a boldly struck assayer mark “P”, and mint mark “M”. The reverse is well struck and the cross, castles, and lions are nearly complete. Not many 4 reales were recovered from this wreck in this level of preservation and this one is definitely a choice one.
The Sinking of the Concepción
The Nuestro Señora de La Pura y Limpia Concepción, was a 600-ton Spanish galleon built in Havana, Cuba in 1620. In July of 1641, she left Veracruz, Mexico in a flotilla of 30 ships on a voyage bound for Spain carrying tons of silver from the rich mines of Mexico and Potosi. Also aboard were quantities of gold and jewels, silks, spices, porcelain, and jade. Treasures from the Orient, which had been sent on the Manila galleons to Acapulco then transshipped overland to Veracruz and loaded aboard the fleet. In addition to the government cargo, the Concepción and other ships also carried much of the personal treasure of Diego de Pacheco, Viceroy of New Spain, and payments being remitted by major merchants of all the new World Colonies.
While sailing through the Florida Straits, the fleet was caught in a hurricane which scattered and sank most of the ships. Severely damaged, the Concepción headed for Puerto Rico but miscalculated the course and on October 30, 1641 she rammed into the Abrojos Reef, near Hispaniola (now known as the Dominican Republic).
After 12 days adrift she finally sank on November 11th. Between the storm and the wreck itself, starvation, exposure, and sharks, over three hundred of the 500 people aboard the Concepcion perished.
Then 46 years later, in 1687, William Phips of New England learned, through a survivor the location of the wreck. He organized an expedition with two ships and in order to get past the Spanish authorities, he deceived them into believing that he was on a trade mission. He left one ship in port and with the other, he headed to the wreck site with a group of native divers who spotted cannons under the surface.
The divers recovered almost 30 tons of coins, which Phips took back to England. Phips would cede part of his new found wealth to the Crown, depositing it for the founding of the Bank of England, and would later end up being appointed governor of the colony of Massachusetts.
Later, in the 1980’s and 1990’s more of the treasure was found, with much of it being placed in a museum in the Dominican Republic.
This beautiful silver cob has a fascinating history and is a perfect piece for any collection of shipwreck treasure!