Q: I found this old coin while my grandson and I were digging in the sand dunes at Hilton Head Island. I believe it might be from a shipwreck. I took a small brush and some detergent to try to brush off some of the salt and sand from it, and it looks like it might possibly be gold. Can you shed any light on this and tell us if it has any value?
A: You may have something of value, or you may just have an interesting story to tell. Spain minted gold and silver coins in the area that is now Peru, Columbia, and Mexico beginning in the 16th century. Coins with an irregular shape like this are called cobs and were made by cutting a piece off the end of a gold or silver bar and hammering in the design. The weight of the piece determined the value of the coin. Your coin is not in very good condition, but we can see a cross with bars at each end on one side and a design called “pillars and waves” on the other side. We can see the number “8” and the letters “P” and “A.” A gold coin, 8 escudos, with similar designs and the letters “P,” “V,” and “A” was made in Lima, Peru, in the early 1700s. Some of these coins were used in the colonies and some were sent back to Spain, where they were melted down to make Spanish coins, jewelry, or other things. Some ships sank in storms and the coins ended up at the bottom of the ocean. The value of old coins is determined by rarity and condition. Some old Spanish coins sell for high prices, but there are many fakes. We aren’t experts on coins. You should take your coin to an expert in rare coins to determine its value.
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