5 thoughts on “Where Have all the Four Reales Gone?

  1. Addressing this question from a West Indian perspective my understanding is that the 4 Reale denomination did not see extensive circulation in the West Indies and indeed was not generally minted in the Spanish-American mints in the same huge quantities as the 8 Reale coins.
    There are two official references to 4 Reale coins being countermarked in the West Indies. Firstly there is the November 1758 Jamaica Act revaluing the series of 8, 4, 2, 1 and Half-Reale coins by countermarking both sides with a floriate GR within a circular indent. The counterstamped 4 Reale coins circulated at the enhanced value of 3 shillings 4 pence.
    In September 1811 St. Vincent passed a Resolution authorising 8000 8 Reale coins and 2000 4 Reale coins to have a central plug of 1/3 the weight of the respective coin removed. The 4 Reale coin ring would be valued at 4 shillings 6 pence and the plug at 2 shillings 3 pence. No specimens of 4 Reale coins in this configuration are known to exist. There are 4 specimens known of whole 4 Reale coins seemingly from this St. Vincent Resolution stamped S/IX for 9 Bitts (6 shillings 9 pence) suggesting a modification to the Resolution. However, there is some degree of controversy surrounding these 4 specimens questioning their status of being contemporary or modern.
    Ken Eckardt (cutcmkman)

  2. Thanks Ken. Your comment on the reduced number produced in the Spanish-American mints is certainly of interest. The fact they were not utilised in the West Indies certainly supports this.

  3. I should have probably added that the countermarked 4 Reale coins issued under the Jamaica 1758 issue are far fewer in number today than the 8 Reale coins, which are in fact seen quite frequently in the numismatic marketplace. This would suggest possibly much fewer were available for countermarking. Some years ago the 4 Reale coin was considered quite a rare coin, but a few more examples have since turned up in recent years.

  4. Hi Eric. You may find an article by Brian Stickney of interest- “The Evolution of Spanish Colonial Coinage and its influence on the United States”, Journal of American Numismatics- June 2018. This issue is now accessible on the Newman Numismatic Portal.
    Here’s an excerpt: “Carlos Lazo Garcia provides the best information with regard to the percentage breakdown, by denomination, of silver coinage produced during the colonial period. The royal decree of 1535 laid out a guideline as to what proportion of silver should be used by denomination. But that soon changed, in part because the unpopular three-real denomination was abolished and the eight-real authorized. While the quantities of eight-real coins produced as compared to those of lesser denominations probably varied from mint to mint and from decade to decade, data from Lima and Potosi are instructive. One decree issued at Lima in 1683 mandated the mint there (and presumably Potosi) to have 75% of the value of annual production issued in coins of eight reales; 12.5% in four reales, 9.3% in two reales, and the balance in half- and one-real coins. By 1760, based on tallies made at 10-year intervals out of Lima, levels dramatically changed. By then, about 95% of production (by value) was devoted to eight-real coins while those of four-reales dropped to less than 1% through 1820. A similar pattern emerged for Potosi.”

  5. Thank you David for this input. I have studied the periodical and read the very interesting article you mentioned. It answers a lot of my questions and seems to explain, certainly to me, why there are so few countermarked 4 reales. This blog site has certainly come up trumps for me on this subject so thanks too to Robert Page.

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