Macuquina coins are fantastic collectibles, desired by many collectors, to the point that some are willing to pay thousands of dollars for one.
Why are these coins so valuable? How much can these rare coins be worth?
In this article I share with you these answers and other facts that will surely make you open your eyes wide, and dream of all the things you could do if you had a macuquina and sold it today.
But before we get into the economics, let’s start at the beginning, by understanding what a macuquina coin is and why it is so valuable.
What is a macuquina coin?
A macuquina coin is a piece of money minted in Spanish America approximately between the 16th and 18th century. They were manufactured by manually hammering the coin blanks until the design of the coin was printed. These coins are characterized by being coarse and with errors resulting from the rudimentary minting process.
The origin of the word MACUQUINA is not known for certain.
Some numismatic specialists affirm that it comes from the Arabic word “machuch” (approved or sanctioned). In this case it would be a word brought from Europe to America.
Other sources, on the other hand, point out that the word macuquina is derived from the Quechua expression Makkaikuna -or macay cuna- which would refer to its manufacture by hammering.
The term Cobs, in English, refers to the end of the bar; since, in this case, to create the coin’s hammered coin blanks, the end of the bar was cut off.
The ancient macchuquina coins were minted in silver and gold metals. Later we will see some particularities of both types, and the value that these interesting numismatic pieces can reach.
Macuquinas of Mexico
Macuquina coins are often associated with Mexico, and this has a well-founded justification in the monetary history of the new continent.
The first mint in America, or Mint as it is usually called, was created in Mexico in 1536.
Since then, Mexican numismatic history has been marked by a high degree of richness in terms of the number of types, models and designs of coins, including the famous Macuquina coins.
There are many macuquinas minted in Mexico, like this one that was auctioned for 30 thousand dollars . But we can also find macuquinas minted in other mints in the Americas. For example, macuquinas minted in Santo Domingo, Bogota, Lima and Potosi are quite common.
How to understand macuquina coins?
As I said before, a macuquina coin is easily recognizable by the simplicity of its design, and the coarseness of the manual minting process.
In this sense, it is extremely difficult to find a macuquina coin with real busts with colorful designs. This type of design is characteristic of other coins both earlier, such as the coins of Carlos and Juana, or later, such as the columnarios and the peluconas.
Macuquina specialists have systematized a system of analysis of these coins, significantly helping coin collecting enthusiasts (like me and possibly you who are reading) to understand Macuquina coins.
Basically, we owe special thanks to Daniel and Frank Sedwick who wrote an interesting book entitled “The Practical Book of Cobs” on Macuquaine coins. In the book, we can learn, among many other things, how to read the pieces to learn part of their history and value.
Macuquinas coins generally have a cross on the reverse, with the symbols of Lion and Castile. On the other hand, the obverse may have a Spanish Coat of Arms or the famous Pillars of Hercules.
NOTE: The shield design is more common in Mexican macuquinas.
In the following infographic I share with you the way you can read a macuquina with the Columns of Hercules.
In the case of the coin shown, the 8 escudos of Lima minted in 1711, the year is identified in spaces 7, 8 and 9 of the obverse grid. There are other macuquinas where the year is concentrated in space 8, while in space 7 the initial of the assayer is repeated, and in space 9 we again find the mint.
This type of design is generally found on heart-shaped macuquinas coins, which we analyze below.
The Sacred Heart Macuquina coins, as they are known because of their heart shape, were minted mainly at the Potosi Mint in the 1690s.
These macuquina coins have two particularities that make them special.
The first one I mentioned before, the year of minting is concentrated in space 8 of the grid on the reverse of the coin.
The second peculiarity is obvious. They change the circular shape, common in the coins of that time, for that characteristic outline that refers to the representation of the Catholic symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is why these coins are known by collectors as “Potosi Hearts” .
Macuquina heart coins are known in denominations of 1, 2, 4 and 8 reales. The Sacred Heart of Potosi macuquinas are extremely rare and valuable.
In 2015 the auction house Daniel Frank Sedwick auctioned this 1704 8 reales Corazón de Potosí specimen, minted under the reign of Philip V, for more than 70 thousand dollars .
How much is a Macuquina worth?
As you can see, Macuquina coins tend to be valuable pieces that fetch figures in the tens of thousands of dollars. However, not all coins are worth that much, it will depend on a series of factors such as the metal, the state of conservation, the patina, the quality of the design details, among others.
Silver macuquinas were minted mainly in denominations of one, two, four and eight reales under the reigns of Philip II (1556-1598) and Philip III (1598-1621). During this period the standard weight of a silver macuquina is 27 grams.
Later, under the reign of Philip IV (1621-1665) half real coins were added to the circulating denominations.
Silver macuquina coins can be worth a few hundred dollars, such as these 8 silver reales of 1685 (left) to several thousand, such as the 8 silver reales of 1660 (right).
Gold macuquinas were first minted in 1627 at the Santa Fe de Bogota mint, but were later also produced at the Mexico mint in 1679. They were also minted at the Lima mint starting in 1696.
These gold macuquina coins were issued in denominations of 2, 4 and 8 escudos. Like the 8 escudos coin of 1711 that you saw earlier in the infographic.
The production of gold pieces continued until 1750, when all designs were replaced by other, more detailed designs thanks to advances in coin production processes.
The value of macuquina gold coins ranges from a few thousand dollars (left) to several tens of thousands, such as these 8 gold escudos auctioned for 30 thousand dollars (right).
Ready to collect macuquinas?
Now the question is… are you ready to start your own macuquina coin collection?
Hopefully yes, just keep in mind that in order to do so you will have to have a large amount of capital to invest in silver, gold or both macuquina coins.
Luckily, the investment you make in these pieces promises to increase in value over time, as more and more collectors are interested in buying macuquina coins; therefore, these pieces tend to increase in value over time.
Share this article with your friends if you found it interesting, and you will surely have a topic worthy of conversation the next time you meet for dinner or hang out together.
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