Police hunt theives who stole rare ‘pieces of eight’ silver pirate coin

February 27, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

Police are hunting thieves who stole a valuable 18th century pirate coin in a raid on a home.

The Spanish silver ‘pillar dollar’, recovered from the wreck of the Hollandia which sank in 1743, was stolen from a house in Braughing, Herts., on Friday.

Burglars entered the house between 7:30pm and 8.15pm and grabbed the eight reales coin, minted in Mexico in 1741, which was hung on a silver chain.

A 1743 silver Pillar Dollar similar to the one that has been stolen

A 1743 silver Pillar Dollar similar to the one that has been stolen

The Hollandia, carrying a cargo of silver from Amsterdam to the Far East, sank on her maiden voyage off the Scilly Isles.

Pillar dollars, today worth £60, are believed to have inspired the phrase ‘pieces of eight’ as pirates and traders would cut them up into ‘pieces’ to create smaller denominations.

Tom Hockenhull, curator of modern money at the British Museum, said: “Historically these coins are quite important.

“They were some of the first trade coins – the model for the US dollar essentially.

“We don’t know quite how many were produced but they circulated widely so they are found all over the world.

“Known colloquially as pillar dollars, it’s said they led to the phrase ‘pieces of eight’ as pirates and traders would have cut them up into ‘pieces’ to create smaller  denominations.”

DC Jonathan Leak from Hertfordshire police said: “The victims of the burglary are extremely keen to have this unique coin back.

“I would urge anyone who may have encountered this coin since it was stolen to contact us as soon as possible.”

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