Hello Carissa --
I am not sure, but it sounds like you are describing a Peruvian 8 escudos gold cob coin. These coins are tremdously valuable. Does your coin resemble our picture? If so, that's great!
The 8 reales coins you mention in your questionnaire are minted in silver and use letters other than PVA. Reales and escudos were minted in silver and gold, respectively, by Spain and her far-flung colonies in the New World during the 1700s and early 1800s.
Our picture on this page comes from one of the auction lots on iCollector.com, an upscale online auction house for elegant collectibles. We thank iCollector for the use of their image. It's a beauty! This particular coin was sold for a whopping $7000 by Sedwick Auctions.
In terms of value, these old escudos reach into the stratosphere if they are genuine coins, and not counterfeits. The coin in iCollector's picture is in such good shape that it would easily sell for several thousand US dollars. Here are some sample catalog values for early gold 8 escudos:
2 ESCUDOS (about 18 mm diameter)
average circulated: $4000
well preserved: $7000
4 ESCUDOS (about 24 mm diameter)
average circulated: $11000
well preserved: $15000
8 ESCUDOS (about 32 mm diameter)
average circulated: $9000
well preserved: $12000
These coins are all roughly equal in catalog value regardless of date and minor variations, like the one Carissa describes about the feathering atop the pillars. A very knowledgeable collector might pay a premium for specific dates and variations, but this would be the exception, not the rule. In general, each coin stands on its own merits, so if you have a nice-looking example, be sure to get an in-person appraisal from a professional or top-notch amateur.
These are catalog values and must not be interpreted literally, but by the guidelines shown on our Terminology page.
Counterfeiting is a fact of life in modern numismatics (coin collecting). It wasn't always like this, but the crooks have gotten so good, all collectors must take steps to be sure their coins are genuine. The steps are usually (1) buy and sell 'slabbed' coins, that is, coins that have been authenticated, graded, and encapsulated by PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS, and (2) deal only with reliable, nationally recognized coin dealers.
The picture on the left is a replica of a Peruvian 8 escudos. The fact that it is not gold is a give-away of fakeness, and you can also see marked differences in the design when you compare it to the genuine article in our main picture.