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López de Quiroga, Antonio (c. 1620–1699)

López de Quiroga, Antonio (c. 1620–1699)

Antonio López de Quiroga (b. ca. 1620; d. late January 1699), silver mine owner in Potosí. López de Quiroga was born near Triacastela in the province of Lugo, in northwestern Spain. He was the leading silver producer of Potosí (and possibly of all Spanish America) in the seventeenth century, owning mines and refineries at Potosí itself as well as at other sites widely scattered over its district. Between 1661 and 1699, these operations provided about 14 million ounces of silver, a seventh or an eighth of the Potosí district's total output in that period.

About 1648 López came to Potosí, where he used his prior commercial experience to set himself up as an importing merchant. He quickly married Doña Felipa Bóveda y Savavia, daughter of a prosperous local family from Galicia, close to his own birthplace in Spain. He benefited from an investigation of coinage adulteration at the Potosí mint, which led to the removal of most of the existing mercaderes de plata (silver traders and coinage supervisors) thereby paving the way for his eventual entrance to that profession in the 1650s. From this position, he moved into silver production about 1660, and in that decade rapidly expanded his holdings of mines and refineries in Potosí. In the 1670s and 1680s he extended his activities to Porco, Ocurí, San Antonio del Nuevo Mundo, and other sites in the district, often reviving old mines through the excavation of deep drainage galleries. To expedite this process, about 1670 he introduced the technique of blasting with gunpowder, probably for the first time in Spanish-American silver mining.

López placed many relatives in governmental positions in the Potosí district during the 1670s and 1680s, thus safeguarding his own interests. He became a large landowner and used his estates to supply goods useful in mining. Though he was unsuccessful in acquiring a title of nobility, he ended his days an already quasi-mythical figure in Potosí.

See alsoMining: Colonial Spanish America .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bartolomé Arzáns De Orsúa y Vela, Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí, edited by Lewis Hanke and Gunnar Mendoza I. 3 vols. (1965), vol. 2.

Peter Bakewell, Silver and Entrepreneurship in Seventeenth-Century Potosí: The Life and Times of Antonio López de Quiroga (1988).

                                        Peter Bakewell

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