The Monarches Of Spain And The Legends On Cobs
| The legend of a coin can be defined as
the inscription, or worded message of identification, placed on the surface near the edge
around both sides of its circumference. Since dies were round and most cob planchets were
not, the legend on the average cob is incomplete. If you can find the King's name and
ordinal in the legend in the legend, where they are supposed to be, you have identified at
least the period of issue of the coin. As we shall see, other components of the legend may
help to identify the mint. Of course mintmark and assayer also serve this purpose, and
more adequately, but, depending on the cut and strike, they too can be off the planchet
despite their less peripheral location on the coin.
The student of cobs should adapt his thinking to the Spanish mode. All children in Spain
must memorize the names and reigns of Spanish monarchs, of whom the list to follow is but
an abbreviated one, suitable to the time frame for cobs. All numismatic books and catalogs
emanating from Spain and Spanish American classify coins by kings.
|Isabel I, 1474-1504|
|Fernando II de Aragon, 1479-1516|
|The above Isabel and Ferdinand are the monarchs who unified Spain. She, Queen of Castile and of Leon, married Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Aragon, in 1469. The joint reign dates from 1479 when Ferdinand became King of Aragon and brought that region under the joint crown. Isabel Juana, their daughter, was married to "Philip the Handsome" of the Hapsburg line, who died in 1506; but she became Queen in name only, at the death of Ferdinand in 1516, for she was insane. Her power was presumably shared with, but in reality assumed by, her eldest son Charles, born in 1500.|
|Carlos I, 1516-1556|
|The above Charles, first Spanish monarch to be heir of the House of Austria, named Hapsburg, was also called Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. He did not die in 1556 but abdicated in favor of his son Philip.|
Felipe II, 1556-1598
Felipe III, 1598-1621
Felipe IV, 1621-1665
Carlos II, 1665-1700 (died childless)
Felipe V, 1700-1724 (first period)
|First monarch of the House of Bourbon, Philip V abdicated in 1724 in favor of his son Louis.|
|Luis I, 1724|
|The 17 year old Louis I became King in January and died in August of the same year 1724, whereupon his father, Philip V, was restored to the throne.|
Felipe V, 1724-1746
Fernando VI, 1746-1759
Carlos III, 1759-1788
|The above rulers' names appear in the legend of cobs. Legends are in capital letters, with the letter V used in place of U in all elements of the legend. Here, then, are the Kings' names in Latin, followed by their Spanish and then English equivalents, beginning with the opening of the Mexico City mint:|
|CAROLVS, CARLOS, CHARLES. (For Charles I only, the variant spelling of KAROLVS and CHAROLVS are possible.)|
|PHILIPPVS (sometimes PHILIPVS or PHYLIPPVS), FELIPE, PHILIP.|
|LVDOVICVS, LUIS, LOUIS|
|FERNANDVS, FERNANDO, FERDINAND|
| In the case of Philip IV, it should be
noted that the custom was to write his ordinal as IIII rather than IV.
The standard legend, running around both sides of the coin, said: (NAME OF THE KING), KING OF SPAIN AND OF THE INDIES, BY THE GRACE OF GOD.
"King" is REX, simple enough, as is ET for "and." "Grace of God" is DEI GRATIA, often abbreviated as DEI G., or DEI GRAT., or D.G. "Of yhe Indies" is the Latin genitive (possessive) plural INDIARVM (whose first I is sometimes replaced by Y), sometimes abbreviated as IND. or INDIAR. "Of Spain," HISPANIARVM, sometimes with a Y replacing HI, and often abbreviated as ISPAN. or HISP. or HISPA. or HISPANI., requires some explanation.
Although the word "Spain" is in singular, HISPANIARVM like INDIARVM is Latin genitive plural, hence literally "of the Spains." There is a historic reason for this plural usage, rooted in feudal times before the various small kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula came to be united into one nation by Ferdinand and Isabel. Think of HISPANIARVM as meaning "of the lands of Spain" and you will be following the right thought process. The component regions of "Spain" have always had separatist tendencies. Portugal at one time was part of Spain (a joint monarchy but separate kingdoms) but ceased to be so, most people in Catalonia and its capitol of Barcelona never wanted to be part of Spain, and even today the Basque provinces continue to seek independence. Throughout the peninsula the typical Spaniard's loyalty tends to be regional first, and national second. "Las Espanas," plural, in place of "Espana," singular, is not a dead term in Spanish usage even today.
Depending on the period and the mint, several more identifiers occur occasionally in the legend. EL PERU or LIMA or POTOSI are three of them. Another is ANO, sometimes ANNO, Latin for "year," followed by the year that the cob was issued. In this case Arabic numerals are used, but not always in four digits: sometimes only the final two or three digits appear.