Sao Jose Shipwreck - 4 Reales - Mexico Mint

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Denomination:  4 Reales

Assayer:  D

Date: CA. 1618

Weight: 12.50 gm

Mint:  Mexico

Mount: Sterling silver with 14k prongs & bale

The Sao Jose was a Portuguese "Carrack," an immense ship with a huge stern castle that towered high above the sea. Following reports that the British planned on capturing their strategic island outpost Hormuz along the spice route, a fleet was hastily prepared for an urgent mission. Armed with brass cannon, the Sao Jose set sail in March 1622 from Lisbon with many passengers and the royal treasure of Philip III which included 9 chests filled with thousands of silver Reales. After entering the Strait of Madagascar, the Sao Jose lagging behind the fleet was attacked by a combined force of Dutch and British East India Company ships. 

On the night of July 22nd the enemy ships fired more shots into her than any previously recorded naval battle in the Indian Ocean. After a desperate attempt to escape, she finally met her demise after grounding on a reef off the Mozambique coast and a final assault by the British & Dutch Fleet. 66,000 Spanish silver Reales were captured by the enemy before the Sao Jose finally broke up and sank, taking 300-400 souls with her to the bottom of the Mozambique Channel. The remains of the Sao Jose lay undisturbed for nearly 400 years until her discovery in May 2005 by the Portuguese marine archaeology company Arqueonautas.