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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 2095. Estimate $150. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $725. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

LATIN AMERICA, Wars of Independece. Orden Mercedaria. AR 4 Reales (12.93 g, 12h). Crowned shield of the Orden Mercedaria countermarked on a Potosí mint 4 Reales of Fernando VII, dated 1816 (KM 88). H. Carlson, “Unusual Hispanic countermarks explained,” World Coin News (May 2005), p. 49 (this coin illustrated). Coin Fine, countermark good VF. Extremely rare and historical.

The Orden Mercedaria, or the Order of the BVM of Mercy, was established in Spain in 1218 as an order whose purpose was to ransom Christian captives. In Spanish colonial America, the order became well-established, organizing numerous chapters, as well as involving itself in a variety of religious and secular organizations. As the wars of independence sought to throw off Spanish colonial rule, the Orden Mercedaria was deeply involved as well as deeply divided. In some areas, the order assisted the pro-independence movements with the distribution of funds. This coin, countermarked to designate it as having come from the order, may have been employed to “liberate” partisans of the movement who were being held in Spanish captivity.