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  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
  • Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)
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Caravel Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making (Fishing Boat)

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Caravel Sailing Ship & Cod Fish 50 Escudos Portugal Authentic Coin Money for Jewelry and Craft Making

Obverse: A caravel ship at sail, with four fishes below.

Obverse: The arms of Portugal dividing the date with the denomination below.
Translation: Republic of Portugal
50 Escudos

Issuer Portugal
Period Third Republic (1974-date)
Type Standard circulation coin
Years 1986-2001
Value 50 Escudos (50 PTE)
Currency Escudo (1911-2001)
Composition Copper-nickel
Weight 9.41 g
Diameter 31 mm
Thickness 1.65 mm
Shape Round
Technique Milled
Orientation Coin alignment ↑↓
Demonetized 28 February 2002
Number N# 770
References KM# 636, Schön# 95

The caravel was a small highly-maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The lateen sails gave it speed and the capacity for sailing windward (beating). Caravels were used by the Portuguese and Castilians for the oceanic exploration voyages during the 15th and the 16th centuries, during the Age of Discovery.

Its English name derives from the Portuguese caravela, which in turn may derive from the Arabic qārib, used to refer to an ancient boat type known as carabus in Latin or κάραβος in Greek, perhaps indicating some continuity of its carvel build through the ages.

Until the 15th century Europeans were limited to coastal navigation. They used the barge or the balinger (barinel), which were ancient cargo vessels of the Mediterranean Sea with a capacity of around 50 to 200 tons. These boats were fragile, with only one mast with a fixed square sail that could not overcome the navigational difficulties of southward oceanic exploration, as the strong winds, shoals and strong ocean currents easily overwhelmed their abilities.

The caravel was developed in about 1450, based on existing fishing boats under the sponsorship of Henry the Navigator of Portugal, and soon became the preferred vessel for Portuguese explorers like Diogo Cão, Bartolomeu Dias or Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real, and by Christopher Columbus. They were agile and easier to navigate than the barca and barinel, with a tonnage of 50 to 160 tons and 1 to 3 masts, with lateen triangular sails allowing beating. Being smaller and having a shallow keel, the caravel could sail upriver in shallow coastal waters. With the lateen sails attached, it was highly maneuverable and could sail much nearer the shore, while with the square Atlantic-type sails attached, it was very fast. Its economy, speed, agility, and power made it esteemed as the best sailing vessel of its time. The limited capacity for cargo and crew were their main drawbacks, but did not hinder its success.

The exploration done with caravels made the spice trade of the Portuguese and the Spanish possible. However, for the trade itself, the caravel was later replaced by the larger carrack (nau), which was more profitable for trading. The caravel was one of the pinnacle ships in Iberian ship development from 1400–1600.


The exact origin of the caravel is a matter of some debate. There are many possibilities and theories, but no conclusive evidence to sustain them. That the caravel was a fishing vessel in the 13th century is evident from Portuguese records from that period.


The International Fishery of the 16th Century

More Europeans at the end of the 15th century were engaged in fishing than in any other occupation except farming. This fact reflects the importance that fish played in the everyday diet of Europeans. It was a source of protein that was easy to preserve, transport, purchase and prepare. Moreover, in an age of rising (and warring) nation-states, fish made an ideal military ration.

Government Promotion of the Fishery
National governments came to regard all maritime activities, including fishing, as essential to the training of seamen needed by their navies in time of war. Thus governments promoted fisheries not only because fish was valuable as food and as an article of trade, but because they were "nurseries for seamen". Even Protestant England would legislate "fish days" to increase the consumption of fish. The discovery of new fishing grounds as rich as those at Newfoundland was guaranteed to attract the interest of all Western European countries.

News of what Cabot had found spread quickly throughout Europe. Within 10 years of his voyage, significant numbers of European fishermen had begun to make the annual trip to the "New Found Land" to catch cod. Few of these fishermen were English; instead, Bretons and Normans from France, and Portuguese, predominated during the opening decades of the 16th century. Breton fishermen were visiting Newfoundland as early as 1504, while Norman fishermen learned about the fishing grounds from Thomas Aubert, who had made a fishing and reconnoitering voyage in 1508. By the 1520s French ports regularly sent out between 60 and 90 vessels each year. The size of the Portuguese fleet is unknown.

Limited English Involvement with the Fishery
After about 1540, Basques from northern Spain added another element to what historians refer as the "International Fishery", so that by 1578 Anthony Parkhurst was able to count over 100 Spanish vessels at Newfoundland, all seeking cod. In contrast, the level of English activity during this period was quite small — Parkhurst claimed that in 1573 there were only four English vessels at Newfoundland.

Why was this? Why were the French and Portuguese so quick to take advantage of Cabot's discovery, while the English, who after all had sponsored his explorations, were so slow? Part of the answer may be location. The forerunner of England's Newfoundland fishery was its Icelandic fishery. This was based in the seaports of England's north-eastern coast, on the North Sea, which were poorly located to exploit the Newfoundland fishing grounds. In contrast, the south-western seaports (in the so-called "West Country") were ideally situated to exploit fishing grounds on the other side of the Atlantic. Eventually they would come to dominate the Newfoundland fishery, but they could not develop a cod fishing industry overnight. Nor could they establish markets right away for a product that was so new to them.

The French Atlantic seaports that were conveniently located to take advantage of the new discovery had already become skilled at cod-fishing in the North Sea. What is more important, they already had developed markets for cod in northern and eastern France.

Markets were another important factor. The fish caught at Newfoundland by Breton and Norman fishermen ended up in inland markets such as Rouen and Paris. Portuguese and Spanish fishermen benefited from the fact that their countries were staunchly, even militantly, Catholic, with a strong demand for fish to consume on fast days. In addition, both countries had growing sea-borne empires in America and Asia, and needed cod to feed the mariners and soldiers who were associated with that growth.

England, in contrast, had no comparable expanding domestic market. Its Icelandic and local fisheries satisfied the demand for fish. In the absence of some other market, there really was no incentive for English ports to develop a major fishery at Newfoundland. While a decline in the Icelandic fishery encouraged the expansion of the English fishery at Newfoundland, significant growth occurred only after the Spanish and Portuguese fisheries went into decline. This forced southern European consumers to look for foreign suppliers of cod. The English West Country ports had found the market they needed.

The Decline of the Spanish and Portuguese Fisheries at Newfoundland
The decline of the Iberian fishery (that is, the fishery of Spain and Portugal) had less to do with events in Newfoundland than with developments in Europe. The Spanish fishery was based in the Basque region in the northern part of the country.

The enormous wealth which Spain was plundering from its American possessions helped to finance the development of a powerful and highly centralized government in Madrid. This government began to assert itself through all sorts of new regulations and restrictions. These interfered increasingly with various economic activities, including the fishery. At first the Spanish Basque seaports tried to ignore many of these measures. However, in time new taxes, combined with restrictions on trade and shipping, weakened the ability of the Spanish fishermen to compete with their European rivals.

In addition, the great 16th century inflation caused significant price rises. So far as the Spanish fishery was concerned, this meant increased costs, while the rising price of fish encouraged foreign suppliers to penetrate the Spanish market even further.

Worst of all was the crippling effect of Spain's war with England that began late in the 1580s. Not only did the government requisition commercial shipping and seamen (including those from the fishery) for military purposes, but Spanish trade was now exposed to attack by English privateers. In 1585 Sir Bernard Drake carried out an extensive attack on Spanish ships in Newfoundland, although he was careful to avoid Spanish centres like Placentia and the Strait of Belle Isle. The Spanish retaliated with attacks on English and French shipping in 1587 and 1588. However, the Spanish cod-fishing industry never completely recovered. Portugal suffered too, because in 1580 she had been absorbed by Spain. The Portuguese fishery was subjected to the same ill-effects of Madrid's policies as its Spanish counterpart. Until peace was restored in 1604, the English continued to be aggressive in seizing and destroying Iberian fishing ships.

The destruction of the Iberian fishery at Newfoundland was not absolute and complete. Spanish and Portuguese fishermen continued to cross the Atlantic throughout the 1600s. There are French reports of Spanish fishermen at Placentia in 1655, and English reports of Spanish fishermen north of Bonavista after 1660. These suggest that a Spanish sedentary fishery may have struggled on to the end of the century. But their numbers were so reduced that, for all intents and purposes, they might not have existed. This created an exciting opportunity for the French and especially for the English.



Coat of Arms of Portugal

At center, five escutcheon shields, forming a cross. On each shield are five round bezants (coins).

These five shields are arrayed in their cross on a larger shield. They are surrounded by seven golden, triple-towered castles.

Behind the shield, is an armillary sphere (which looks like a circle crossed by lines).

Present and past elements of the Coat of Arms of Portugal:

Quina (plural quinas) is the Portuguese term for a group of five things.

After the official recognition of the Kingdom of Portugal as an independent country in 1143 (it had been self declared as so in 1139), silver bezants were added to the blue cross of the shield, symbolising coins and the right of the monarch to issue currency, as leader of a sovereign state. Eventually, and given the enormous dynamism of medieval heraldry, it is believed that the shield degraded and lost some elements in battle, eventually losing the cross format. This is how King Sancho I inherited the shield from his father, Afonso Henriques, with the cross replaced by escutcheons with the silver bezants. A traditional legend explains that these escutcheons represent the five moor kings defeated by King Afonso I of Portugal in the battle of Ourique.

The number of silver bezants in each escutcheon varied extensively, with versions having represented from four up to eleven. In the late 14th century however, the number of bezants was fixed in five. Late explanations interpret them as the five wounds of Jesus Christ and/or the thirty pieces of silver (with the five bezants in the middle escutcheon counted twice), although this is highly improbable.

From the fixation of the number of bezants in five, the groups of the five escutcheons, each with five bezants of the Portuguese shield became popularly referred as quinas. By synecdoche, the term "Quinas" came to be used as an alternative designation of the coat of arms of Portugal and came even be used as a reference to anything that represents Portugal (e.g. the Flag of Portugal being often referred as the "Flag of the Quinas").

It was during the reign of Afonso III that the red bordure with golden castles (not towers, as some sources state) was added. Although the number of castles could vary between eight and twelve, Afonso IV would define them as twelve, and Sebastian I would finally fix them as seven. They supposedly represent the Moorish castles conquered by the Kingdom of Portugal during the Reconquista. Their origin is probably Castilian, but unlike Spanish castles, which usually have their gates coloured blue (hence opened), Portuguese castles were usually depicted with gold gates (hence closed). As a matter of fact, Afonso III was the second son of King Afonso II of Portugal and thus was not expected to inherit the throne, which was destined to go to his elder brother King Sancho II of Portugal. As a second son, the coat of arms of Afonso III included both the arms of his father and the arms of his mother Urraca of Castile, thus the Castillan red border with golden castillan castles, around the Portuguese shield inherited from his father.

Armillary sphere
An important element of Portuguese heraldry since the 15th century, the armillary sphere was many times used in Portuguese naval and colonial flags, mainly in Brazil. It was a navigation instrument used to calculate distances and represents the importance of Portugal during the Age of Discovery, as well as the vastness of its colonial empire when the First Republic was implemented.

Although it is commonly regarded as a "republican" element, as opposed to the monarchist crown in the blue/white flag (see Flag of Portugal), its usage predates the republic by several centuries; it was the personal emblem of Manuel I. Some flags of the monarchic era, such as the flag of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, already depicted armillary spheres. The incorporation of the armillary sphere into the 1816 flag of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves is related to the adoption of the first flag of the Kingdom of Brazil, an armillary sphere on a blue background.

The coat of arms sported different crowns during imperial rule of Portuguese and foreign crowns.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
Elizabeth H
Perfect, just as described, fast shipping.

Perfect, just as described, fast shipping.

Roberta L
so beautiful - I know it's not a viking sh...

so beautiful - I know it's not a viking ship but my nephew loves history - he'll love it! I'm going to make a pendant for him