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Mexico, Ingot of 10 reales

1545-1554
Origin: Sub-America, Mexico, Mexico City
Height: 2 3/16" Width: 1 1/16"
Silver
Museum Purchase, Ruth P. and Joseph R. Lasser
Acc. No. 2007-94
Label:While it is true that coins of the colonial period are often crude, there were some pretty unorthodox forms of "money" in use. Before the mints in the New World came into full swing in the 16th century, much gold and silver was shipped back to Spain in the form of ingots. Some looked like bricks; others were shaped like baked goods. A convenient way of moving material quickly, the practice of using ingots continued into the 17th century.

Chisel-cut to the weight of 10 Spanish reales, this section of a silver "biscuit" ingot was stamped with the "Pillars of Hercules," amongst other devices. Made late in the joint reigns of Carlos and Johanna, it was worth about a dollar and a quarter.

The Mexico City mintmark can be found at the bottom of the stamp, in the form of an "o" over a larger "M" with an "o" to each side. The letters traversing the two columns are an abbreviation for PLUS UTLRA, Latin for "more beyond," in reference to the New World treasures Spain was reaping.
Provenance:From the 1554 Plate Fleet sunk off Padre Island, TX