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1629 Spice Islands Wreck


Recovered from the Spice Islands Wreckage off Southeast Asia ca. 1629

8 Reales Cob Silver Coin

Minted in Mexico City, Mexico under the reign of Phillip III and Phillip IV

Obverse side shows a Cross, Reverse side shows a Shield

Assayer not visible


The Indonesian Archipelago of the Molucca, commonly referred to as the Spice Islands, lies on the equator north of Australia and west of New Guinea. Though there are hundreds of islands in the group (mostly very small), only a handful figures prominently in the history of the European spice trade, including today's Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Makian and Bacan. Until the 1700's, these rain-forested, luxuriant volcanic islands were the only or best sources of such spices as cloves, nutmeg, and mace. A bag of spices could be valued equally to a bag of coins. These coins were recovered from a shipwreck which is rumored to have been traveling with intention to trade for spices.