Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Spanish Reales. The first international coin. Today many are found in shipwrecks. Also they would influence the coinage system in the United States.

Here are a few examples of Spanish Reales coins. These are from a shipwreck that was found in the Gulf of Mexico. All were minted in 1783. It is three 8 Reales and a 2 reales coin. Spain at one time held claim to many parts of the world. It had massive holdings in Central and South America. It was here that massive amounts of silver were found and made into coins.

These coins would be shipped to Spain and used in various ways. It was a currency for Spain yes. But, it was also a currency for most of the world. These coins would be found all over Asia and to prove they were Silver the Chinese would make what are called Chop Marks on them. There are many of these coins today that have Chop Marks. It is amazing in the age of sail these coins were on just about every part of the globe.

 These were the coins that would finance the American Revolution. What is more interesting is that these coins were legal tender in the United States till 1857!  The American Silver Dollar was based on the 8 Reales coin. The American Quarter was based on the 2 Reales as the 4 Reales would influence the half dollar.   There are other parts that are interesting, The 8 Reales was at times chopped into 4 pieces. Each would equal 2/10ths of the value  They were called 2 bits. That is the slang from the 18th to early 20th century for the Quarter.  So these coins were not only international, but influenced the American coinage system.