The hidden treasures are protagonists of popular stories and part of great legends.

Why are they called “tapados”?
The first cities that were built after the arrival of the Spanish to the present Argentine territory did not have banks. For this reason, valuables were hidden in graves, cisterns or earthenware jars. Some of these treasures have never been discovered and since they were hidden they were popularly called “tapados” (hoards). Picture: Obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1826.

8 escudos, minted in gold. Reverse of the medal: seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 with a blue chief that occupies half the shield (barry), with hands clasped holding a pike with a Phrygian cap overhanged to the left, on the outside flags to the right and left, surrounded by a laurel wreath. Bellow two traversed cannons and a drum. On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.8S.1826” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.8S.1826”). Reverse of the medal. Irregularly oblique reeded edge.

Detail of the 8 escudos coin, minted in gold in 1826, two traversed cannons and a drum.

Unitarios vs. federales
During the 19th century in Argentina two political camps, the “Unitarios” (unitarian) and the “Federales” (federalists) battled to rule the country. On the one hand the “Unitarios” favoured a political system centred on Buenos Aires. And on the other hand the “Federales” supported the a political system based on provincial autonomy. In the province of La Rioja, the conflict between the opposing armies was centralized in the battle for the minting rights for the Famatina hills and the issuing of coins from its metals. Picture: Obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1828.

Reverse 8 escudos, minted in gold: seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 with a blue chief that occupies half the shield (barry), with hands clasped holding a pike with a Phrygian cap overhanged to the left, outside the shield flags to the right and left, surrounded by a laurel wreath. Bellow two traversed cannons and a drum. On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.8S.1826” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.8S.1828”). Reverse of the coin. Irregularly oblique reeded edge.

Buried treasures
In 1829, with the advance of the enemy troops, the federal military chief from La Rioja, Facundo Quiroga, commanded an exodus from the territory and decided to bury the tools of the provincial Mint, the steel dies that were used to mint the coins and part of his own fortune. These leather bags with minting tools and gold and silver coins are known as the “Tapados de Quiroga” (Quiroga Hoards). Picture: Obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1829.

The 8 escudos gold coin from 1929 is one of the most important pieces that was donated to the Central Bank Museum by Héctor Carlos Janson, one of the main exponents of numismatics studies in Argentina.

The gold and silver pieces found inside the leather bags burried by Quiroga reproduced the disign of the first patriotic coins from 1815.
Picture: Obverse 2 escudos, minted in gold in 1826.

Reverse 2 escudos, minted in gold in 1826: to the left you can see number “2” and letter “S” to the right though less visible.

The treasure hunt
When the “Unitarios” (unitarian) invaded La Rioja, their leader Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid ordered to interrogate the “Federales” (federalist) caught and forced Facundo Quiroga’s mother to walk enchained down the streets to reveal where the hidden treasure was. Finally he accomplished to take possession of the buried coins and minting tools. Picture: obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1826.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1826: Seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 with a blue chief that occupies half the shield (barry), with hands clasped holding a pike with a Phrygian cap overhanged to the left, surrounded by a laurel wreath with 7 leaves on each side. Outside the shield number “8” to the left and letter “R” to the right. On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.8S.1826” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.8S.1828”). Reverse of coin. Laureate edge.

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1827: sun face with the perimeter legend "PROVINCIAS DEL RIO DE LA PLATA" (“PROVINCES OF RIO DE LA PLATA”).

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1827.

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1828 found inside the leather bags buried by Facundo Quiroga in La Rioja.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver 1828.

Obverse 4 soles, minted in silver 1828.

Reverse 4 soles, minted in silver 1828.

Obverse 4 soles, minted in silver 1828.

Reverse 4 soles, minted in silver 1828.

Obverse 2 soles, minted in silver 1826: sun face with the perimeter legend "PROVINCIAS DEL RIO DE LA PLATA" (“PROVINCES OF RIO DE LA PLATA”)

Reverse 2 soles, minted in silver 1826. You can see number “2” to the left and lettler “S” to the right.

“Unitarias” (Unitarians) coins
Due to the need of circulating money, the “unitarios” (unitarians) minted gold and silver coins in 1830 and 1831. Picture: obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1830.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1830: seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 with a blue chief that occupies half the shield (barry), with hands clasped holding a pike with a Phrygian cap overhanged to the left and surrounded by a laurel wreath. Bellow two traversed cannons and a drum. On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.8S.1830” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.8S.1830”). Irregularly oblique reeded edge.

Obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1831.

Reverse 8 escudos minted in gold in 1831.

Reverse 8 escudos, minted in gold 1831. If you look closely the coins issued that year by the “Unitarios” (unitarians) have doubled die number 1 over 0. In other words, they reused the dies of the previous year with a numerical amendment.

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1830.

Reverse 8 reales minted in silver. On the left side you can see number “8” and on the right letter “R”. On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.1830” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.1830”)

Quiroga’s return
In 1831, Lamadrid is defeated by Quiroga, who manage to regain the provincial gobernment and ordered to start minting gold and silver coins again. Picture: obverse 8 reales, minted in silver 1831.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1831.

Doubled die number “1” over “0”.

Obverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1831.

Reverse 8 escudos, minted in gold in 1831.

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1831.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver in 1831.

Obverse 8 reales, minted in silver 1832.

Reverse 8 reales, minted in silver 1832.

Obverse 4 soles, minted in silver 1832.

Reverse 4 soles, minted in silver in 1832: seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 with a blue chief that occupies half the shield (barry), with hands clasped holding a pike with a Phrygian cap overhanged to the left and surrounded by a laurel wreath. Outside the shield number “4” to the left and letter “S” to the right On the perimeter legend you can read “EN UNION Y LIBERTAD. RA. P.1832” (“IN UNION AND LIBERTY. RA. P.1832”). Irregularly oblique reeded edge.

The recovered treasure
Some years after Facundo Quiroga’s murder in 1835, his wife took legal actions against the unitarian Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid and managed to recover part of their fortune. It is popularly said that the “tapados” are not for those who look for them but for those who find them.
“Hector Carlos Janson” Numismatic and Historical Museum
Credits: Story

The Central Bank Museum invites you to rediscover the “Tapados” of Facundo Quiroga and, with them, part of the history of the Argentine currency.

The exhibition can be visited from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in San Martín 216, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

More information: http://www.bcra.gob.ar/BCRAyVos/Museo_Historico_y_Numismatico.asp

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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