Spain 1798 Silver 8 Reales
Recovered from the wreck of the Boston steamer Rapid - sank off the coast of Ningaloo (Point Cloates) in North West Australia in 1811
Obverse: Bust of Charles III to right, legend around and date below
Reverse: Coronate shield within denomination and moneyer's initials, legend around
Reference numbers: KM# 432.2 /; Calico 72/593
Condition: good Fine
WA Museum Certificate # 13265
This could be the only coin from the Spanish mainland recovered from this wreck that is legally in private hands.
Even though the wreck of the Rapid took place decades, if not centuries after the first Dutch ships to wreck off the WA coastline, that does not mean that it is any less interesting historically.
The Rapid was transporting 280,000 Spanish colonial silver dollars such as the coin we offer here when it sank off the West Australian coast in 1811.
280,000 doesn't sound to be a particularly large number, until we remember that just in weight alone, 280,000 silver dollars weighs more than 7.5 tons.
In addition to that, 280,000 coins is very nearly ten times the amount of "specie" provided to Governor Lachlan Macquarie by the British Home Office to ensure that the wheels of commerce continued to tick over in the colony of New South Wales.
In 1813, the population of New South Wales was around 12,000 people, and since settlement it had experienced repeated problems with there not being enough coins in the colony for the colonists to use in their daily lives. Macquarie of course turned those 30,000 Spanish colonial 8 reales into 30,000 Holey Dollars and 30,000 Dumps that were intended to circulate throughout Sydney and it's surrounds.
Even 60,000 coins however is absolutely nowhere near the 280,000 coins that were being carried by the Rapid.
This particular coin was struck at the Seville Mint in Spain, and may be the only coin struck on the Spanish mainland to have been recovered from this wreck and that can be legally held in private hands.
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