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Brazil João VI 1809 Peça of 6,400 Reis, Ex Douro Cargo Shipwreck
Brazil, João as Prince Regent (1799-1816), gold Peca of 6,400 Reis, 1809, R mint mark for Rio, laureate and draped bust right, date and mint letter below, legend and toothed border surrounding, JOANNES. D. G. PORT. ET. ALG. P. REGENS, rev. crowned oval shield of arms within garnsihed frame, edge engrailed, weight 14.34g (R.577; Gomes 29.06; Fr.93). Some nicks and light surface marks both sides, with full underlying brilliance, extremely fine, and intriguing to think the coin has been to the bottom of the Bay of Biscay and back with the shipwreck provenance.
The obverse legend translates as "Joao by the grace of God, Prince Regent of Portugal and the Algarves"
The Royal Mail Steamer Douro sank in 1,500 feet of water after colliding with the Spanish steamer Yrurac Bat at 4am on the 2nd April 1882 in the Bay of Biscay off Cape Finisterre. The Douro built in 1865 was a popular choice of those first class passengers who liked to travel from South America to England via Portugal. The Douro was on the final leg of her journey en route to Southampton when tragedy struck. The Chief Officer had not noticed the light of the approaching Spanish ship until it was too late to take evasive action and the Yrurac Bat struck the Douro hard on the starboard area near the mainmast and rebounded, and as the engines were still running hard, she ploughed forward again striking the Douro a second time in the aft. The Yrurac Bat lost 30 men and all survivors of which the Douro's were mainly the women and the children, were picked up by the ship Hidalgo of Hull and landed at Corunna.
Moving forward 111 years the wreck was at last located in 1993 after marine researcher Nigel Pickford spent ten years researching the Douro, its cargo and whereabouts after being left a cryptic note by his Father dating back to 1949 merely saying "Douro, 1882, £53,000, Bay of Biscay." The Deepsea Worker Salvage team led by Sverker Hallstrom recovered much of the cargo culminating in what was the most valuable coin auction that Spink and Son had ever held as of 1996 with 1,713 lots of coins and artefacts from the ship. Some 28,000 Sovereigns were recovered from the wreck with a proportion appearing in the auction sale, the remainder gradually found their way into the market-place in the succeeding decade by private treaty. However, the coin offered herewith is one of the few world coins that were formed a small proportion of the cargo and is one of the actual pieces from this ground-breaking auction sale. This coin is one of only 12 gold peca coins of Joao the Prince Regent from Brazil, all from the Rio mint and this coin was only one of three dated 1809.
Ex Douro Cargo, Spink Coin Auction 118, 20th-21st November 1996, lot 136 - with original lot card from the sale.