YoloBagels's Blog

01 Feb 2020

The reales of El Cazador

Coins-World | YoloBagels

For several centuries the reales minted by the Spanish Empire dominated world trade. From the Colonies of the Americas to the Empires of Asia, these coins were primarily used in many regions as they went unchallenged for decades; and in some cases, centuries. With that stated, the Spanish Empire was at one point the largest and most powerful nation on the globe and thus its economic influence propelled with the newly-discovered nations the Spanish conquered.

The year was 1784. Economic turmoil took over the Spanish colony of Louisiana’s capital, Nueva Orleans. This was mainly due to the paper money circulating at the time, which was not backed by silver or gold and was heavily disregarded by the general economy. In response to the high rate of instability, King of Spain, Charles III ordered the Spanish brig on a mission to supply Louisiana with the much-needed silver currency.

On October 20th, 1783 El Cazador left the shores of Spain and sailed towards Veracruz, Mexico. She would not arrive until January of 1784, where she would pick up approximately 450,000 reales, significantly composed of newly-minted 1783 eight reale coins. On January 11th, 1784, El Cazador sailed off the coast of Veracruz, not to be seen by human eyes until over two centuries later.

For a very long time, it was unknown what had happened to the ship. Once a few weeks had passed that it had not arrived, El Cazador and its hoard of treasure were officially stated as missing. As a result of the treasures absence, the Spanish economy in Louisiana crashed, forcing Spain to cede that land to France, who then sold it to the USA as part of the Louisiana purchase.

In August of 1993, a fishing boat owned by Jim Reahard was conducting its routine catch when the net became snagged. Upon raising the net, hundreds of 1783-dated reales spilled aboard the boat. After reaching out to his lawyer and filing a claim on the site, Marex inc was hired to look into the site. Using sonar technology to photograph the site, thousands of coins could be seen littering the seafloor. Reviewing historical records from Spain, it was revealed that this was the wreck of the long-lost El Cazador.

After a large amount of scavenging efforts, many of the original coins were recovered, many with problems such as sea salt corrosion. These coins can very commonly be found on the market today both online, at stores, and at coin shows. They do command a premium but can usually be bought fairly close to a typical reales price depending on the individual coin. Overall the wreck of El Cazador plays a massive part in history and numismatics, giving us a representative look at how the Americas developed during the colonial age.





Level 6

Cool coins for sure! Thanks for the information! ; )

Foreign coins are underrated to be sure. Nice informational blog!


Level 6

Amazing story, no? I am a fan of Reales and other Mexican/Spanish/Latin American silver coins. I too have a 1853-O Half Dollar from the SS Republic. Not a CSA coin like Mokie's. My coin dealer just got and set aside for me an 1875 8 Reale coin. Now all I have to do is come up with the money.. You can get hooked on treasure coins very easily. Be careful Thanks.. P.S. Just this week one of those TV coin sellers tried to tie in global warming of the time to the sinking. They said the Mississippi River froze that year and the ship hit an iceberg from it and sank..WOW!! No Comment

It's Mokie

Level 6

I love the treasure coins, I have an 1861-O Half from the S.S. Republic and a1737 8 reales from the Dutch Ship Reijgersdahl. The history and their disappearance for so many years makes them all the more interesting.


Level 7

Thanks for the information.


Level 6

Thanks for educating me on these coins.


Level 5

Amazing story. Might purchase one of these coins someday.

    No tags are attached to this post.
We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.