Cuzco was authorized to establish a gold mint in 1683 and 1684, but for political and financial reasons, Cuzco was not able to start building a mint until of May of 1697. A year later, with personnel and equipment borrowed from Lima, and dies cut in Lima, Cuzco reported itself ready to strike gold coins, though the mint building itself was far from complete. In June or July Cuzco struck its first coinage, reporting this to Lima in August. Soon thereafter civil unrest broke out in Cuzco, apparently triggered by a mint guard’s assault on a woman, and mint was closed. Late in the year the mint was able to re-open to accomplish two emissions (“dos labores”) that likely represent the bulk of the 1698 gold coinage. In the first half of 1699 the mint was still mostly open, staffed by whom we wonder, but apparently receiving and issuing little or no gold. In August a decision was reached to close the mint, the just completed mint building having been sold to private interests. A small final quantity of gold on hand was minted in September or October, and the Cuzco mint ceased to exist. Gold struck at Cuzco in 1699 apparently used uncorrected 1698 dies. All Cuzco gold bears the assayer’s initial M. It is possible that this is the Lima assayer Melgarejo, but in an autobiographical deposit in 1727, Melgarejo does not mention any service in Cuzco. Also it is very unlikely Melgarejo would have remained available to Cuzco into 1699 or even late 1698. Since most of the assay work for the Cuzco coinage was likely done at the Cuzco foundry, and not at the uncompleted mint, a better candidate for assayer M is the foundry assayer Morocho.
C12. Cuzco 1698 M two escudos. Lustrous, well struck, well centered, and choice mint state. Quite rare in this condition as the vast majority of this one-year issue exhibit serious striking and planchet problems. NGC "1715 Plate Fleet MS63" The full story of the failed gold mint at Cuzco (1698-99) hides in the archives of Spain and Peru. We [...]