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New World Mintage: México, Santo Domingo, Lima, And Potosí

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Chapter Summary

Coinage at colonial mints was the final step in the mining process after extraction of gold and silver from placers and mines, their refinement by amalgamation or smelting, assay at royal treasuries, and finally refashioning the ore into ingots of silver. On 11 May 1535 Charles V ordered establishment of the first Spanish colonial mints in Mexico City and Santo Domingo on Española. Until the eighteenth century in Spanish America, private empresarios and their workers minted coins as concessionaires, albeit supervised by royal officials and regulated by royal laws. The casa de moneda in Mexico City succeeded in attracting a great number of miners, traders, and refiners to the mint to sell their gold and silver bars in exchange for coin. When comparing Upper Peruvian silver output with Potosí mintage the pattern is quite different from that in Lima or Mexico where mintage was usually greater than silver output.

Keywords: casa de moneda; colonial mints; Lima mintage; Mexico City; Potosí mintage; private empresarios; Santo Domingo

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