Sao Jose Shipwreck


Setting out in haste after learning of an impending British attack on the strategic island of Hormuz, a small fleet consisting of four ships including the São José departed Lisbon, Portugal in 1622.  

The ship carried an impressive cargo - the legendary silver treasure of Philip III, King of Spain and Portugal, handed over to Francisco da Gama on his way to Goa, India. The shipment included nine chests or crates filled with thousands of silver reales coins produced in the Old and New World mints of Mexico, Bolivia and Spain.

As the São José sailed up the Mozambique Channel, a combined fleet of Dutch and British ships of the East India Company attacked the Portuguese flotilla. The São José was cut off from the rest of the fleet, surrounded by the enemy and attacked. Despite damage to her sails and spars, the São José remained afloat. In a desperate attempt to escape, the ship ran into a shoal. The São José met her demise grounded on a reef off the Mozambique coast, victim to final assault by the Anglo-Dutch fleet. A reported 66,000 Spanish reales were taken by the enemy, a small share of the total treasure aboard the ship, lost with some 300 - 400 passengers and crew as the vessel broke up and sank to the bottom of Mozambique Channel.

Part of the treasures lost to the majesty of the sea when the São José sank were cob coins. Cobs are the original "treasure coins." Produced in mints in Mexico, Bolivia and Spain, the coins were all made by hand by forming slabs of silver and alloy into long rolls of irregular thickness. These rolls, while still warm, would be sliced with metal shears or a chisel. Depending on the mint, these blank slices were snipped to form basic round shapes. Since this was done by hand with much guesswork, many coins had flat edges from the trimming process. The leftover snips were collected, re-melted and used again. Due to this rudimentary process, no two cobs look exactly alike.

With a date range from 1556 - 1622, the silver cobs found on the wreck of the São José represent some extremely unique and rare specimens, composed of an assortment of Old and New World mints.


!! Authentic coins are in high demand !!

Therefore, if you see a coin you like that is marked “sold” please contact us. We can have a custom mount created specifically for you in the design of your choice on another authentic coin of your choosing.
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