By John J. TePaske and edited by Kendall W. Brown

ISBN-10: 9004188916

ISBN-13: 9789004188914

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Awed by its size and productive activity (it was the largest mint of its time), Humboldt compiled coinage figures for Mexico from 1690 to the beginning of the nineteenth century. 24 He also commented on mintage production elsewhere in the Indies. 25 His listing is reliable only after 1690. 26 In it he provided capsule histories of each of the eight Spanish American mints (including the one in Española). He also estimated mint output in some areas—the first few years of gold output at the Guatemalan mint years, for example, as well as plates of the various coins produced in these cecas.

In fact Iberian emigration to Mexico virtually depopulated the islands and was in part as responsible for the decline in gold production as the rapid decimation of the native population. In New Spain, silver, not gold, was the lure. Gold production in New Spain can be measured both in time and in space by treasury (caja) district (see Tables 2–4 and 2–5 and Figures 2–6 and 2–7). In the first three decades following the conquest of Mexico City, New Spain produced only a bit more than 6,000 kilograms of gold and virtually nothing after the 1550s until the 1590s when a small gold boom occurred with the opening of new gold fields near San Luis Potosí.

In this study I have relied primarily on the estimates of João Pandía Calógeras supplemented by those of von Eschwege and the document from Goiás provided by Professor Karasch. The Brazilian mintage figures presented by Michel Morineau are crucial. The same is true of his estimates of gold shipments from Brazil to Lisbon. Most likely because it incorporated a fraud factor of 19 percent, the early nineteenth-century calculation of Alexander von Humboldt seems reasonable, although the fraud rate was probably much higher than his estimate.

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A New World of Gold and Silver by John J. TePaske and edited by Kendall W. Brown


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