Exploring the New World, Spain soon discovered plenteous deposits of gold and silver. To export the precious metal to Spain quickly, the colonial mints produced irregular coinage called cobs. A bar of silver was cut into bite-sized chunks of the appropriate weight, and then struck with a hammer between crude dies. The size, shape and impression of these cobs is highly irregular, but they were the proper weight. Often only a small portion of the image on the die was impressed on the silver.
The most important feature of any cob coin is the date. If your cob has an intact date, it is worth much more than a cob where the date was never imprinted on the piece of silver. The values remain basically unchanged with date; the presence or absence of a date is what matters.
Loading the cobs onto gallion sailing ships, they headed up the coast of Florida before turning east toward Spain. With no Weather Channel at their disposal, hurricanes often sunk the ships and the cobs became treasure coins. To this day people still use metal detectors along the beach to uncover these cobs of gold and silver. It is a lot of fun, and really fun when you find one!
Many collectors enjoy these coins and are willing to pay premium value over raw precious metal content. The coin in the photo is in marginal condition and would probably fetch $80 US dollars or so in retail value. Prices go as low as $20 for crude, uninteresting specimens. The coin catalogs indicate typical values for cobs as shown below.
The front side of these coins look approximately the same, with a Jerusalem cross. The back side varies (at least in general appearance) with the specific Spanish colony in the New World.
WITH DATE SHOWING: 1/2 REAL (1.7 grams, about 14 mm diameter)
crude: $80 US dollars approximate catalog value
well preserved: $250
WITH DATE SHOWING: 1 REAL (3.4 grams, about 18 mm diameter)
well preserved: $300
WITH DATE SHOWING: 2 REALES (6.8 grams, about 22 mm diameter)
well preserved: $400
WITH DATE SHOWING: 4 REALES (13.5 grams, about 26 mm diameter)
well preserved: $650
WITH DATE SHOWING: 8 REALES (27.1 grams, about 32 mm diameter)
well preserved: $650
1/2 real: $60
1 real: $40
2 reales: $100
4 reales: $160
8 reales: $120
If you have an old cob in good condition with clear dates and markings, seek out a knowledgable collector or coin dealer to get an accurate estimate of value. CoinQuest provides only very approximate guidance.
These are catalog values. Use our Important Terminology page to gain an understanding about catalog value.