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Friday, April 9, 2010

An Artifact to Treasure

By Bryan McAuley, site manager of San Felipe de Austin

As part of the ongoing site development at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, recent archeological investigations uncovered a unique artifact that provides some insight into colonial San Felipe de Austin.
The artifact in question is a one-bit piece from a Spanish milled pillar dollar coin. These coins were accepted as currency all over the world, including in the American colonies. They are popularly collected today, and the below image of a full 1746 pillar dollar was posted by a seller at a coin collectors’ web site. Note the “M” with the small circle above it. This mark denotes that the coin was minted in Mexico City.
The one-bit piece discovered during testing at San Felipe de Austin (below, with an image of each side of the coin) includes the mint mark (Mexico City), but no evidence of the date of manufacture or of the Spanish monarch at the time of minting (three Spanish kings reigned during these years — Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles III).
As was typical in the Americas and along the frontier, including in Texas before the Revolution, coin money was in short supply. Additional analysis is under way and future research may help us better understand how artifacts like this one came to be at San Felipe de Austin. In some ways, with Mexican Texas a place where the United States and the New World formerly controlled by Spain collided, it seems only natural that this multi-cultural artifact would turn up at San Felipe de Austin.
Our thanks to the team from the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University for their hard work. Below, paying their respects to the Father of Texas after a day of fieldwork are, (left to right): Sarah Scogins, Carole Leezer (assistant director), Drew Sitters, Josh Hamilton and Amy Benton. **San Felipe de Austin is part of the
**The San Felipe de Austin is located west of San Felipe on FM 1458 in the Texas Independence Trail Region

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