Thursday, February 19, 2015

Making a traditional Heart Of Potosi Pendant Reproduction.

Two Reales 1737 in Sterling Silver

© MMXV O’Shea Hand-Made – Saint Augustine Mint House
The photographs in this document are under copyright protection and NOT for use in the public domain. Images may not be copied for reuse under any circumstances with out written permission.

   This Potosi heart reproduction was made using traditional methods rather than the modern day methods by use of a jewelers saw. It is far more than a reproduction cut coin pendant. It is, perhaps the first of its kind done in the traditional practice in nearly 300 years. Its undertaking was far more complex than expected. And the use of the tools to make it where as close to the original tools used on the originals. This is a documentation of its creation.

  Rather than draw out a long heavy silver strap known as a rielera in the old Potosi mint for minting cobs. I drew out a simple silver bar weighing 150 grams, struck on each end with my old 8 reales reproduction die for coining jewelry pieces in sterling silver. The end piece of that bar was clipped off and hammered into a small disc.

   This being my first attempt at doing a Potosi heart reproduction in the traditional way with hammer and chisel vs use of modern jewelers saws and tracing a ready template onto my silver. I chose to draw a basic outline of a heart similar to one I wear in order to help guide my hand as I employed the use of the custom made chisels for the first time.

    Above you can see my first cut to the right of the silver blank leading into the right of the top flames and me preparing for the second cut on the left side. The custom made chisel is almost identical in its cuts as that used in the Potosi mint. This is an important step in the creation of this piece, as I wanted it to have the look and feel of an authentic heart. It is also the same tool I use for clipping my reproduction cobs. And has become one of the most vital tools I have in my shop for anything related to Spanish Colonial minting.
 The creation of this tool was something I had wanted to do for years as Potosi cobs have a very specific look in their cuts. And while it is not yet fully perfect. It is extremely close and really shows in the final pieces.
  I have purposefully left out full photos of this tool in order to keep it from being knicked by would be counterfeiters or those whishing to infringe on my design of the tool. I have shown just enough to share that the tool is being used without giving away its exact shape.

Cutting away at the piece to create a heart.

  Here you can see multiple cuts made into the silver flan and the shape of the heart starting to show. On the left you can see how the chisel was able to cut the arch into the tail and the cut out of the tail leaving a perfect arch as well. The photo on the right shows these cuts completed except for a little snag into the flames on top. This was removed with several more carefully laid chisel strikes.

  The next step was to work on the flames on the top of the heart. For this, I switched to a straight chisel in combination with the custom made chisel to form the flames.
  This proves far more difficult than I had expected. So I retired for the day and dove into more of what little literature I had on Potosi hearts. Finding nothing specific. I figured that this must have been achieved the same way they shaved cobs to bring them to their proper weight.
  So the next day, I used a set of files. As this would have been the most likely tool for the job on the originals.

   In this photograph from day two you can see the flames on the top of the heart are now visible. They were made by cutting out the notches with a straight chisel and a simple file to help shape them”.
   It was at this point. I realized, that the Potosi hearts where more than likely struck and then cut as a result of the cutting tools in the mint. A 4 reale flan becoming a 2 reale heart. Though this didn’t explain the extremely common 8 reale hearts. So, the flans for 8 reale hearts where probably prepared before hand with the full intention of becoming hearts. This being the practice of mint officials, Indians and possibly at the request of merchants who submitted their silver bullion for minting to be given as presentation pieces to priests or as valentine like gifts.
   Nobody truly knows the intention of Potosi hearts. But we do know that they were most likely given as presentation pieces to catholic priests or church officials to be worn as pendants.

   Finally, after the heart was cut into shape and I felt it was good enough to be struck. It was heated under intense flame until it was glowing red hot and placed between two hand engraved dies I had made and struck several times to get a decent impression.
  The photo above is the struck heart just after striking and fresh off the dies. It shows a full strike and oddly, the chisel marks into the heart at the base of the flames drive directly into the top of the pillars inner spikes, blending in beautifully.
   After striking and inspecting the piece, it was time to blanch the silver heart to remove the fire staining from heating the blank heart, which is seen in the photo as dark staining.
   After the silver heart is blanched and fire stain removed. It was time to give the piece a treatment in a special oxidizing solution to give it medium grey color rather than the dark blacks of sulphur based aging.
  Seen below in the next two photos, is the piece with a manufactured aging to give it the look and feel of an older piece and to bring out the contrasting of the low relief and high relief.

The next step was to weigh and measure the piece for my database. I record all pieces I make for my database and portfolio with exact details. So that is always the next step in creating my pieces. This piece weighs heavy and is rather large for a 2 reales potosi heart. I wanted it to be chunky and thick for a pendant. 

After I have recorded the weight and particulars. I then stamp it with 3 markings. The first being the silver fineness of 92.5% pure – or sterling silver in this case. The silver purity mark on this piece was placed on the very top of the flames on the rim.
Location of silver purity marking
 The photo above shows the marking on the top of the heart’s center flame, 925 facing out over the reverse or pillars side. 
  This photo is also an interesting shot as it shows how some of the details struck deeper than others due to the different thickness of the original flan.
   The next marking would be my hallmark.
O'Shea Hallmark. If it doesn't have this on an artisan piece of jewelry, I didn't make it. 
   My hallmark is a simple hallmark that incorporates the black swan from my family crest into the O and S of my last name. So the while it appears as a swan it is actually an O’S for O’Shea. 
  All my jewelry pieces after 2013 are marked with this hallmark. And issued with an Artisan COA that is to authenticate my work as being genuinely hand-made. It may sound unnecessary, but keep in mind I am a coin artisan and that I take great pride in my work.

The next step is adding the hole into the pendant to be worn. Followed finally by a “copy” mark making it a legal reproduction of a 1737 2 Reales Cob / Potosi Heart. This mark is necessary with reproductions. So my copy mark is small and discreet so as not to deter from the attractiveness of the piece. But visible enough to keep would be counterfeiters from trying to pass it off as the real thing and keeping those who are uneducated in Spanish coinage from mistaking it as authentic.

  Finally, the finished piece – shown above making a handsome pendant made in the traditional manner and with a nice crisp strike and lovely silver ring to it when tapped.  
  I have added a shackle bail to this piece as I felt it was deserving of one. Though not my first Potosi heart, it is a special piece of a higher class and first of its kind.
   I have no way of knowing for sure. But it could very well be the first Potosi Heart Reproduction in nearly 300 years to be made with the methods used to create the originals.  

Potosi Heart Reproduction Information:
Denomination: 2 Reales
Date: 1737
Assayer: E
Silver: .925
Weight: 14.2 Grams (without bail)
Serial#: 2XV16B37-TPHO1
Artisan: O’Shea
Mint: Saint Augustine Mint
Date Made: February 18, 2015
Price: 125$
With Shackle Bail.
No bail. 

What happened to the silver scrap from the clipping?

1697 Lima Gold Escudo Pendants in .925 Silver.
300th Commemoration of the1715 Fleet
and of Francisco Hurtado.
10$ Each. for 1/10th .999 Silver Escudo Rounds. 

Purchase of the Potosi Heart comes with a free Sterling Silver 1697 Lima Escudo Coin!
GOLD ESCUDOS ALSO AVAILABLE! 22k Gold with exactly 1/10th Ozt 999
To purchase this pendant, or to see others like it, or to browse authentic cobs, place custom orders for jewelry and coins please send me an email for a catalog or visit our website. Many different things to choose from! Atocha, 1715 Fleet, 1733 Coffin Patch, Jupiter Wreck, Cobs, Reales, Silver, Gold and more!

Ryan O’Shea

American Numismatic Association Member # 3179717

TPHO1 – Potosi Heart Pendant comes with booklet and hand signed COA.

For copy of Saint Augustine Mint’s Database of February, 2014 you can request it at the above email or find it at the website.


All images are copyright 2015 and may not be duplicated or used without permission. These photographs are not in the public domain.
Use of any photograph contained in this document that is for personal profit or gain will be prosecuted by the fullest extent of the law.

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All reproduction coins are legal reproductions and follow HPA law. They are recorded into a database and copies of the original dies are recorded into other databases. So please do not try to pass off any of our reproductions as the real thing.

All artisan coas are for authentication of hand-made work by the artisan and are not to authenticate any reproduction coin as authentic.
Artisan coa’s that use authentic coins are issued as such along with a coa of the authentic coin, relic or antique.

All COAs are hand signed and embossed. All artisan work in the form of jewelry or special reproduction coins have a hallmark. And are recorded in our database.
Bullion coins in the form of reproduction coins are not hallmarked. But include inserts. Some include coas that are hand signed. All reproduction coins shipped outside the USA are hallmarked and stamped with COPY to deter would be counterfeiters.

Cast Copies of our coins, reproduction coins or otherwise is highly forbidden.
Though our reproduction dies and strikes are replicas, they are still original work. And therefor they are protected under the V.A.R.A. Unauthorized duplication will result in prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
All silver or gold bullion submitted for minting will be marked with copy and the artisan’s hallmark. All coins are documented and recorded in a database that is public.

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