Spanish dollar: Wikis

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Spanish dollars
Silver 8 real coin of Philip V of Spain, 1739
Obverse
VTRAQVE VNUM M[EXICANUS] 1739
"Both (are) one, Mexico [City Mint], 1739"
Displays two hemispheres of a world map, crowned between the Pillars of Hercules adorned with the PLVS VLTR[A] motto.
.
Reverse
PHILIP[PUS] V D[EI] G[RATIA] HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX
"Philip V, by the Grace of God, King of the Spains and the Indies"
Displays the arms of Castile and León with Granada in base and an inescutcheon of Anjou.
Silver 8 real coin of Ferdinand VI of Spain, 1753
Obverse
VTRAQVE VNUM M[EXICAUNS] 1753 M
"Both (are) one, Mexico [City Mint], 1753." Displays two hemispheres of a world map, crowned between the Pillars of Hercules adorned with the PLVS VLT[R]A motto.
.
Reverse
FERD[INA]ND[US] VI D[EI] G[RATIA] HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX
"Ferdinand VI, by the Grace of God, King of the Spains and the Indies"
Displays the arms of Castile and León with Granada in base and an inescutcheon of Anjou.
Silver 8 real coin of Charles III of Spain, 1776
Obverse
CAROLUS III DEI GRATIA 1776
"Charles III by the Grace of God, 1776"
Right profile of Charles III in toga with laurel wreath.
.
Reverse
HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX M[EXICANUS] 8 R[EALES] F M "King of the Spains and the Indies, Mexico [City Mint], 8 reales"
Crowned Spanish arms between the Pillars of Hercules adorned with PLVS VLTRA motto.
Silver 8 real coin of King Charles IV of Spain, 1806
Obverse
CAROLUS IIII DEI GRATIA 1806 "Charles IV by the Grace of God, 1806." Right profile of Charles III in soldier's dress with laurel wreath. It was under the reign of this monarch that the last series of Spanish dollars were struck before the United States Mint began the U.S. silver dollar in 1794..
Reverse
HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX M[EXICANUS] 8 R[EALES] T H"King of the Spains and the Indies, Mexico [City Mint], 8 Reales." Crowned Spanish arms between the Pillars of Hercules adorned with PLVS VLTRA motto.
Silver 8 real coin of Ferdinand VII of Spain, 1821
Obverse
FERDIN[ANDUS] VII DEI GRATIA 1821"Ferdinand VII by the Grace of God, 1821." Right profile of Ferdinand VII with cloak and laurel wreath.
Reverse
HISPAN[IARUM] ET IND[IARUM] REX M[EXICANUS] 8 R[EALES] I I"King of the Spains and the Indies, Mexico [City Mint], 8 reales." Crowned Spanish arms between the Pillars of Hercules adorned with PLVS VLTRA motto.

The Spanish dollar (also known as the piece of eight, the real de a ocho or the eight-real coin) is a silver coin, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after a Spanish currency reform in 1497. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler. It was the coin upon which the US dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until an Act of the United States Congress discontinued the practice in 1857. Because it was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century. Many existing currencies, such as the Canadian dollar, United States dollar, and the Chinese yuan, as well as currencies in Latin America and the Philippine peso, were initially based on the Spanish dollar and other 8-reales coins.

The term peso was used in Spanish to refer to this denomination, and it became the basis for many of the currencies in the former Spanish colonies, including the Argentine, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Costa Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, Honduran, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Paraguayan, Philippine, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Salvadoran, Uruguayan, and Venezuelan pesos.

Contents

History

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Etymology of dollar

In the 1500s, Count Hieronymus Schlick of Bohemia began minting coins known as Joachimstalers (from German thal, or nowadays usually Tal, "valley", cognate with "dale" in English), named for Joachimstal, the valley where the silver was mined (St. Joachim's Valley, now Jáchymov; then part of the Holy Roman Empire, now part of the Czech Republic)).[1] Joachimstaler was later shortened to taler, a word that eventually found its way into Danish and Swedish as daler, Dutch as daalder, Ethiopian as talari, Italian as tallero, Flemish as daelder, and English as dollar.[1]

Spain

After the introduction of the Guldengroschen in Austria in 1486, the concept of a large silver coin with high purity (sometimes known as "specie" coinage) eventually spread throughout the rest of Europe. Monetary reform in Spain brought about the introduction of an 8-reales coin in 1497.

In the following centuries, and into the 19th century, the coin was minted with several different designs at various mints in Spain and in the new world, having gained wide acceptance beyond Spain's borders. The main new world mints for Spanish dollars were at Potosí, Lima, and Mexico City, and silver dollars minted at these mints could be distinguished from the ones minted in Spain, by virtue of the Pillars of Hercules design on the reverse. In the 19th century, the coin's denomination was changed to 20 reales (based on 20 reales de vellón) and finally 2 escudos.

Spain's adoption of the peseta and its joining the Latin Monetary Union meant the effective end for the last vestiges of the Spanish dollar in Spain itself. However, the 5-pesetas coin was slightly smaller and lighter but was also of high purity (90%) silver.

In the 1990s, commemorative 2000-pesetas coins were minted, similar in size and weight to the 8 reales and also with high fineness.

Mexico

Following independence in 1821, Mexican coinage of silver reales and gold escudos followed that of Spanish lines until decimalization and the introduction of the peso. The Mexican 8-reales coin (eventually becoming a 1-peso coin) continued to be a popular international trading coin throughout the 19th century.

After 1918, the peso was reduced in size and fineness, with further reductions in the 1940s and 1950s. However, 2- (1921), 5- (1947) and 10- (1955) peso coins were minted during the same period, similar in size and fineness to the old peso.

Ireland and British colonies

The term cob, for a piece of eight or a Spanish-American dollar, was used in Ireland and the British colonies during the period when Spanish-American gold and silver coins were irregularly shaped and crudely struck.

United States

The Coinage Act of 1792 created the United States Mint, but the first U.S. dollars were not as popular as the Spanish dollars, which were heavier and were made of finer silver. An eight-real coin nominally weighed 550.209 Spanish grains, which is 423.900 troy/avoirdupois grains (0.883125 troy ounce or 27.468 grams), .93055 fine: so contained 0.821791 troy ounce (394.460 grains or 25.560 grams) fine silver. Its weight and purity varied significantly between mints and over the centuries. In contrast, the Coinage Act of 1792 specified that the U.S. dollar would contain 371 4/16 grain (24.1 g) pure or 416 grain (27.0 g) standard silver. This specification was based on the average weight of a random selection of worn Spanish dollars which Hamilton caused to be weighed at the Treasury.

The coins had a nominal value of eight reales ("royals").

Before the American Revolution, owing to British mercantilist policies, there was a chronic shortage of British currency in Britain's colonies. Trade was often conducted with Spanish dollars that had been obtained through illicit trade with the West Indies. Spanish coinage was legal tender in the United States until an Act of Congress discontinued the practice in 1857. The pricing of equities on U.S. stock exchanges in 1/8-dollar denominations persisted until the New York Stock Exchange converted first to pricing in sixteenths of a dollar on June 24, 1997, and shortly after that, to decimal pricing.

Long tied to the lore of piracy, "pieces of eight" were manufactured in the Americas and transported in bulk back to Spain (to pay for wars and various other things), making them a very tempting target for seagoing pirates. Some pirates were among the richest people in the world[citation needed]. The Manila galleons transported Mexican silver to Manila in Spanish Philippines, where it would be exchanged for Philippine and Chinese goods, since silver was the only foreign commodity China would take. In Oriental trade, Spanish dollars were often stamped with Chinese characters known as "chop marks" which indicate that particular coin had been assayed by a well-known merchant and determined to be genuine.

Thanks to the vast silver deposits that were found in Mexico (for example, at Taxco and Zacatecas) and Potosí in modern-day Bolivia, and to silver from Spain's possessions throughout the Americas, mints in Mexico and Peru also began to strike the coin.

Millions of Spanish dollars were minted over the course of several centuries. They were among the most widely circulating coins of the colonial period in the Americas, and were still in use in North America and in South-East Asia in the 19th century. They had a value of one dollar when circulating in the United States.

The coin is roughly equivalent to the silver thaler issued in Bohemia and elsewhere since 1517. The German name "thaler" (pronounced "tah-ler" — and "dahler" in Low German) became dollar in French and English.

In fiction

In modern pop culture and fiction, "Pieces of Eight" are most often associated with the popular notion of pirates.

Fictional portrayals

  • In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Long John Silver's parrot had apparently been trained to cry out, "Pieces of eight!" This use tied the coin (and parrots) to fictional depictions of pirates.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End the Pirate Lords must meet together by presenting the "Nine Pieces of Eight", since these Pieces were used to seal the goddess Calypso in her human form by the first Brethren Court. As the Pirate Lords were, at the time of sealing Calypso into her human form, too poor to offer real Spanish dollars, they opted to use personal talismans instead.
  • In Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle numismatics, gold and Pieces of eight are an integral part of the plot. In the second volume The Confusion there is also a subtle reference to the fact that a Piece of eight is composed of 8 "bits" (it is thus a sort of "byte" and a unit of information transfer).

See also

References

  1. ^ a b National Geographic. June 2002. p. 1. Ask Us.

External links


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