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Lot 1307: COMPANIA DEL POZO RICO
29 October 2016
Brussels, BelgiumLive Auction
Description: 1768-78 Accion de 100 pesos de a 10 reales de plata. black. No 2602. Some small holes and small tears. Also ink erosion at one signature. An exceptionally rare Spanish 18th century share, not reported in Kipfer, Torrente, or any other source. Yet, the mine itself, Pozo Rico or Rich Mine, has a long and important history. A royal decree from 1557 allowed Mosen A. Boteller to start the mining explorations. By 1564 the silver mine was fully equipped (including houses, hospital,...) with up to 1300 miners, mostly slaves imported from the Spanish colonies. Pozo Rico was as such the first and most important mine in Guadalcanal (province of Sevilla). It was even said that the silver to be found in Pozo Roco would match that of the famous mines in the Spanish Americas (especially Peru). It was also technologically very advanced, and served as a technical laboratory for the other Spanish mines, especially overseas. So they already had a steam engine in use by 1606 ! (Patented by D. Jeronimo Ayanz y Beaumont). Throughout the centuries, many different companies have mined in Pozo Rico, all with ups and downs. For instance, in the mid-19th century, the "La Vigilancia" company and in the early 20th century "El Socorro y la Prueba". Mining in Pozo Rico definitively stopped in 1967, after no less than 400 years of digging. The share of the "Compania del Pozo Rico" that we offer is undated. Yet, it is doubtless an 18th century certificate. The value is expressed in pesos and reales de plata. The latter currency was used in Spain from 1642 until 1808. Also, the certificate bears the coat of arms of the Bourbon Kings of Spain. The Bourbons have sat on the Spanish throne since the year 1700. According to our research, the coat of arms on the certificate seems to match, in all its details, that of King Charles III, who was King of Spain from 1759 until 1788. Part of his policy was to strengthen the contacts with France. And this matches the signatures on the share: two of them (director and treasurer) look French, while the third one is clearly a Spanish name. Furthermore, the certificate has a completely different look from the shares known of other 18th-century Spanish companies. The style and wording are very reminiscent of the French Compagnie des Indes, and a few other French shares of the period : a long and small vertical format with 6 dividend coupons to be cut. Also, it is printed on thin paper, not on vellum. Finally, we discovered that this French-financed company was founded in 1768 to exploit the mines of Pozo Rico. In 1775, the company engaged Juan Martin Hoppensack, a German mining engineer, as the new manager. Nevertheless, the company ceased its activities in 1778. As such, this company fills the gap between two known mining companies in the Guadalcanal district: in the early 18th century, there is the Compania de las Reales Minas de Guadalcanal (founded 1727, shares known dated also 1727), and in the late 18th century the Reales Minas de Cazalla y Guadalcanal (the so-called Hoppensack-share), founded 1795 by the same Hoppensackwho thus made a come-back but this time as company president. Only two other pieces are known to us, hence Rarity 10.
Condition Report: VF