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 History of All Philippine Coins

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ubipetrus



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PostSubject: History of All Philippine Coins   Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:49 am

#1: Spanish Territorial & Previous

The collection of Philippine coins is now at a stage quite similar to the stage that the collection of US American coinage was about a hundred years ago.  Just as the oldest US American coins date from the 1600s (as listed in the Redbook), the oldest Philippine coins date from the 1700s.  Of course, neither of these categories include the native bartering specie used before the arrival of foreigners and their coins, namely Wampum beads (in the case of the American Indians) or Piloncitos, along with gold rings, bits of gold wire or cloth and direct barter, in the case of the Philippines.

Pre-Hispanic Era:

The Piloncitos do more closely approximate coinage than Wampum beads in that they (partially) bore a stamped pattern, and also that they were all made of that standard coinage metal, gold.  Except for one small portion, flattened for the stamping of a single letter in an ancient Philippine alphabet, Piloncitos are small, round, and rather featureless blobs of gold metal, often of a particular weight, though somewhat often lighter (perhaps due to metal having been subtly scrubbed from it) but never heavier.  It is not exactly known how long the Piloncitos had been in use in the Philippines prior to Magellan’s arrival, nor (exactly) how soon after his arrival that the production (and eventual use) of Piloncitos ceased altogether.

Earliest Distinctive Spanish Philippine Coins:

After contact with Europe began, many various foreign coins came to be used in the Philippines, displacing the Piloncitos and other native bartering species, but it was not until the 1700s that any distinctive coinage was struck for the Philippines.  The earliest known Philippine coinage artifacts, found in recent decades as a result of dredging river bottoms, are a very small number (perhaps less than a few dozen or so, all taken together) of specimens of small and rather thick round Barillas dated 1728, 1733, and 1743 and struck in lead.  The year, a “B” (meaning Barilla, a twelfth of a Real, which in turn is an eighth of a Peso, 1 1/24 % of the Peso), and very crude portrayal of the Spanish government Coat of Arms adorned these ancient coins.  As no documentation survives as to where they were struck, or why, or for or by who, nothing is known of these coins but the coins themselves.  Their small numbers, coupled with the use of lead in their striking, suggests that they may have been some sort of experimental pattern coins, and not much actually used in commerce.  For collectors, what few there are of these all have known pedigrees (what river bed they were found in, and when, and who each of their owners have been ever since), and as they would be quite easy to fake that is the only way to authenticate any of these, were one surface, for example, on eBay.
The first known documented coinage for the Philippines is a batch of copper Barillas minted in Manila in 1766 at the decree of the reigning Spanish King Carlos III.  As would come to be with all of this Spanish approved copper coinage to be produced for and in the Philippines up until 1835, the actual production of the coins was contracted out to a Chinese firm which utilized crude production methods and had an even cruder understanding of Western alphabets, in view of their sometimes getting letters and numbers upside down or backwards or in the wrong order.  As with the older experimental coins, the design featured the Spanish government coat of arms, the date, and a letter to indicate the denomination (“B” in this first case of a Barilla).
In 1869, King Carlos III of Spain decreed the production of about 6,000 Pesos worth of small silver quarter real coins, which appear to have been minted in that year or 1770 or so.  These quarter Real coins featured no identifying information other than the Spanish rampant lion on one side and the Castle keep on the other, both elements from the Spanish government Coat of Arms.
The denomination proved useful, but was reissued in 1771 in copper, with standards and design consistent and proportionate to the 1766 Barilla, now featuring a letter “Q” for “Quarto” (meaning a quarter of a Real, 3 1/8 % of the Peso) for the denomination.  In 1773 another denomination, the Octavo (letter “O,” meaning an eighth of a Real, 1 9/16 % of the Peso) was introduced alongside the Quarto.  The quarto continued to be minted sporadically until 1835, but the Octavo only so continued until 1820.  During 1822 through 1824, some quartos struck bore a crude image of the then reigning Spanish Monarch, Ferdinand VII, the first portrayal of a historic person on a distinctively Philippine coin.  For two years only, 1834 and 1835, two additional copper denominations were also minted, namely the 2 Quartos (Half Real, 6 1/4 % of the Peso) and 4 Quartos (One Real, 12 1/2 % of the Peso).

Counterstruck Coins:

Alongside this small change, regular silver and gold coinage of Spain, its American colonies, and subsequently, the formerly Spanish-founded but now independent central and south American nations such as Mexico, Bolivia, and Chile, continued to serve as the larger denominations of coinage used in the Philippines.  In 1828, in response to the new independence of the former Spanish colonies and concern that they might not sustain the coinage standards of the Spanish Empire, a counterstamp process was introduced to affirm approval of the use of specific coins that had been assayed and found proper.  It was also a chance to deface the coinage of nations that had dared to break away from Spanish rule.  In the beginning, the word “MANILA” with the date underneath was stamped on one side.  This tended to flatten the details of the coin struck by an upstart independent government.
After only three years, a much smaller and simpler counterstamp was introduced, featuring a small crown and the expression “F7” to refer to the Spanish King, Ferdinand VII.  Many different coins have received this counterstamp, mostly silver Dollar/Peso sized, though occasional smaller silver coins, half and quarter Dollar/Crown/Peso sized, and more rarely, gold coins, also occasionally received the counterstamp.  Once stamped, the coins were valued according to their individual apparent size or denomination.  Counterstamped coins typically sell for hundreds of dollars and often much more, but as they can be quite easily faked, one should purchase these only from reputable dealers or as graded as such by recognized grading firms.

Transition to Decimal System:

In 1834, to honor the new Queen of Spain, Isabel II, the counterstamp mark was updated to replace King Ferdinand’s symbol with hers (I2), and the procedure continued to be used until 1837.  After that, the foreign coinage was simply used with no need of the counterstamp.  Once again, for over 20 years, no distinctive coinage would be minted for the Philippines.  However, in 1857, permission was given to build an official mint in the Philippines which would be for minting Philippine coinage, and construction begun on what would come to be called the Casa de Moneda.  In 1862, permission was also given that production of silver coins would also commence.  By that time, the Spanish were transitioning from a “power of two” fractional denomination system to a decimal system.  Though some few 1 and 2 Centavos de Peso coins were struck in copper in this time frame as patterns, none were officially issued.

First Spanish Decimal Philippine Coins, Queen Isabel II:

In 1861 three denominations were introduced, all minted in gold, namely the 1, 2, and 4 Peso coins.  In 1864 the 10 and 20 Centavos de Peso denominations, minted in silver, were introduced, and the 50 Centavos de Peso was introduced the very next year, completing the Spanish coinage denomination set for the Philippines.  But in 1866 and 1867 as Queen Isabel II’s rule came under increasing challenges, mintages for those years went into a sharp decline and most coins from those two years are quite scarce.  No 2 Pesos coins and barely a thousand 4 Pesos were minted in 1867, making the 1867 4 Pesos a great rarity.  Though her Queenship was not gaining any strength (in fact she was forced to abdicate in 1868), coinage resumed in larger numbers in 1868, and despite her departure from Spanish rulership, coinage of these six denominations continued until about 1874 or so, given the particular denomination, but all using the same 1868 date and her portrait on the coins.  This is why 1868-dated Philippine coins tend to be much more available, even in the high grades, for a lower price than the older coins.

Second Spanish Decimal Philippine Coins, King Alphonse XII:

In 1880, her son, King Alphonse XII, assumed power after some struggle, and resumed Spanish coinage for the Philippines, this time with his image on the coins, and with the silver coins slightly debased in alloy, in comparison to the Isabel II era coins.  For the gold denominations (not changed in weight or alloy), only the 4 Pesos saw any production during this era, and only in very small numbers.  Once again, this time at the death of King Alphonse XII (and the succession of his as-yet unborn son, Alphonse XIII), in 1885, all further updates to the coin ceased, though the silver denomination coins continued to be minted until 1898, all dated 1885.  The gold coins ceased production in 1885.  The 1882 4 Pesos, presently worth about $2000.00 (not factoring in gold spot prices), is the least expensive and most available gold coin of that era.  After that, in ascending value are the 1885, 1881, and 1880 4 Pesos coins.  Among the silver denominations, the 1884 10 Centavos de Peso and all 1880 coins are the rarest from the King Alphonse XII period.  There are no clear records of any of the gold 4 Pesos coins being struck for 1883 or 1884, but it is commonly believed possible that some miniscule numbers may have been struck for either or both of those years, and much more faintly possible that some specimen(s) from either of those years might exist even today, though none of either year are known to the collector community.

Spanish Philippine Coins Bearing Portrait of King Alphonse XIII:

Several coins also were struck bearing the likeness of the youthful King Alphonse XIII, most notably the silver peso of 1897, struck in Madrid.  These silver pesos are somewhat common and not too expensive, but a couple copper coins, namely 1 and 2 Centavos dated 1894, which also bear Alphonse XIII’s portrait, were struck in very small numbers as experimental patterns.  While the Spanish government would lose control of the Philippines without ever issuing these copper coins, the sizes of them did serve as kind of rough precedents for the sizes of a few experimental pattern coins struck in 1899 by the fledging independent Philippine government, while fighting for independence from the Americans who had basically driven out the Spanish at a blow.  The 1 Centavo pattern would also serve as a rough size precedent for the American 1 Centavo that was introduced in 1903.  The pattern coins of 1894 and 1899 are all very scarce, and again, authentic specimens will tend to have a documented pedigree, or at least the characteristics, as judged by experts, of those that do have such a pedigree.  All of these are very valuable, for example one of which (1899 Panay 1 Centavo) which sold for $30,000.00.
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ubipetrus



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PostSubject: A History of All Philippine Coins   Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:14 am

#2: US Territorial & Commonwealth

Beginning of American Era:

Coming through the turn of the Century, the regular American coinage was briefly used until a distinctive Philippine coinage could be introduced in 1903, at a fixed exchange rate of two Philippine Pesos to one American Dollar. This is the point at which Philippine coinage first comes to be of interest to most American coin collectors, since these coins were minted in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Since others have covered this era in some detail, I will focus on other observations about this period that others do not seem to have noticed. As it turns out, the United States Mint (and also several private mints in the US as well) has minted quite a number of coins for foreign governments, but this case is unique in that the Philippines was technically a part of the US, being newly seized as a US Territory, albeit with the express intention (ultimately carried out in 1946) to grant independence to the new Philippine nation. For no other US Territory, as such, has any special coinage ever been minted.

The Easiest All-Type Year Set:

In my opinion, 1904 is the best and “most perfect year” for a complete denomination and mint set. In all other years, there is always some denomination, often several, which are not produced, but also differing from year to year as to which. In 1903, the 50 Centavos from San Francisco only exists as a couple trial strikes, meaning that only two fully complete sets for 1903 could ever exist (way out of my league, cost-wise, and probably out of yours as well). Starting in 1905, not only would the half Centavo never again be issued for circulation, but also the 5 Centavos would be not issued (other than proofs and one small run of aluminum coins for the Leper colony in 1913) until 1916. The 10 Centavos was also not issued to circulation that year. In 1906, only the Peso of San Francisco would be issued to circulation, and then promptly withdrawn (all but a couple hundred specimens or so), making for another rarity. In 1907 there would be no base metal coins struck, even as proofs, as there would also be no proofs struck for just that one year. In 1910 the 50 Centavos would not be struck and would continue to not be struck until 1917. The 10 Centavos also failed to get struck that year (other than some very few trial strikes, the survival of any of which is uncertain) and again in 1916. By 1917, the 5, 10, and 50 (along with 1 and 20) Centavos denominations would all be back in full force, but by then the Peso is no longer struck, having ceased after 1912, and no proofs had been struck since 1908. And so it goes. But for 1904, all seven denominations exist in both proof and business strike from the Philadelphia mint, and all four silver denominations are available from the San Francisco mint. In those days, all base metal coins were struck at the Philadelphia mint alone, with no intention that they would be struck anywhere else. Furthermore, in 1904, all coins as yet retained their original forms, sizes, and alloys. In 1907 all silver coins would be reduced in size and alloy, and in 1930 the 5 Centavos would also be reduced in size and weight. That the Philadelphia business strikes for that year were minted in only the amount of 10,000 individual coins each has not created any great rarities since these have had an extremely good survival rate, far better than for most Philippine coins of the era.

The Beginning of Minting Base Metal Coins at Other Mints:

Collectors of American coins generally know that the 1908-S Indian Head Cent was the first base metal coin actually struck at a US branch mint. What is not so widely noted is that production of the base metal Philippine 1 Centavo coin at any branch mint also started that same year. And the Philippine 1 Centavo even has the same sized numbers for the date, exactly as was used on the Indian Head Cent, which is why the date numbers are smaller than for the Philadelphia version of the same coin as made for the proof set. So for that year, not one but two base metal coins were first struck at a branch mint, both of the same copper/zinc/tin alloy, both of the one hundredth (Cent/Centavo) of the monetary unit. Indeed, about twice as many Philippine 1 Centavo pieces were struck at the San Francisco mint that year than Indian head Cent pieces, suggesting that minting these sorts of coins there for the Philippines may have been among the reasons that the law was changed (in 1906) to permit this. Production of coins in this same base metal would not start at the Denver mint until 1911, and production of copper-nickel coins would not begin at either branch mint until 1912. And it was later still before any other base metal coins were struck for any other nation at any mint other than Philadelphia (San Francisco began striking cupronickel 5 Centavo pieces for the Philippines in 1916).

American Philippine Coins Struck at Multiple Mints:

Most American Philippine territorial coins are struck at a single mint, certainly (at least) for circulation, with only the barest handful of exceptions:
1903 (P) and S – 10 and 20 Centavos, and 1 Peso (and 50 Centavos, if one doesn’t mind counting absurdly rare trial strike only coins)
1904 (P) and S – 10, 20, and 50 Centavos, and 1 Peso (if one doesn’t mind counting limited silver issues originally struck only for some special sort of one off mint set, though several thousand of each did get placed in circulation)
1905 (P) and S – 25 and 50 Centavos, and 1 Peso (if one doesn’t mind counting rare proof-only coins)
1906 (P) and S – 1 Peso (if one doesn’t mind counting a rare proof-only coin and an even rarer circulated coin)
1907 (P) and S – 10, 20, and 50 Centavos (and 1 Piso, if one doesn’t mind counting absurdly rare trial strike only coins)
1908 (P) and S – 1, 10, 20, and 50 Centavos, and 1 Piso (if one doesn’t mind counting proof-only coins)
1920 S and (M) – 1 Centavo (kind of interesting, since this is the only instance of a coin being minted both stateside and at the new Manila mint in the same year, but regrettably the Manila mint coin has no mintmark)
1944 (P) and S – 5 Centavos

A Mysterious Period of No Activity:

We know why the half Centavo was stopped in mid-1904, namely that it was too small to be practical and not popular. And of course, we know the coins were reduced in size in 1907 due to the increasing price of silver. The complete giving over of all production to the San Francisco mint (which may have helped prompt the laws to be changed enabling base metal coins to be minted at branch mints) makes sense in view of no longer having to ship the minted coins across country before also shipping them across the water. It is not clear why the 5 and 50 Centavo denominations were suspended so early and for so long, but one can reasonably conjecture that there simply was no need, since (perhaps) enough 5 Centavos were minted for the needs of commerce by the end of 1904 (cupronickel coins do seem to hold up better than copper or silver coins), and 50 Centavos coins tended to see little practical circulation (even as Half Dollars see little practical circulation today). Perhaps the Peso was stopped after 1912 since they mostly resided in the banks, and the banks probably had enough to last, with the idea that more might be struck later if needed, but the need just never arose. The founding of the Manila mint also made sense in view of now no longer having to ship the coins across the water, and also as another valuable asset to give to the coming new nation in preparation for its independence. That the 5 Centavos coin was reduced in size is easily explained on account of the two separate occasions in which 5 and 20 Centavos coins were muled with each other (1918 and 1928), being almost exactly the same size, and the desire to prevent that from happening again. That no Philippine coins are issued for 1942 and 1943 is obvious in view of the war being fought then. But one thing I do not understand and have not found is why no Philippine coins at all were minted in 1923 and 1924. Might it have been somewhat comparable to how the Carson City Mint produced no coins in 1886 through 1888? If anybody knows (not merely guessing), I really would like to hear of it, and would revise this accordingly.

The Culion Leper Colony Coins:

In this era, a special coinage was also minted for use by the inmates of the Culion Leper Colony. The first batch of coins was struck in 1913 by the private firm Frank and Company in Manila, and then again in the Manila Mint over the course of 1920 through 1930. For 1913, six of the original seven denominations (excluding the 50 Centavos) were minted in aluminum, and this was the last mintage of the Half Centavo, which was never actually used but stuck in a drawer somewhere and found years later, all unused. As a result, beautiful high grade Half Centavo coins for 1913 can be had for quite cheap and easily show what the aluminum Culion Leper coins looked like when newly struck. In 1920, only the 10 and 20 Centavo and 1 Peso denominations were struck, again in aluminum. In 1922, the 20 Centavos and 1 Peso were struck in nickel brass with a similar design but adding an incuse “PM” mintmark. In 1925 the 1 Peso was again struck in nickel brass, and now for the first time featuring the image of José Rizal. That was the very first of what would in time prove to be a great number of appearances of this man on the 1 Peso/Piso denomination, and where his image is found even today. In 1927 the 1 and 5 Centavo denominations were struck in nickel brass (with several die varieties for the 1 Centavo) with designs consistent with that of the 1925 Peso. A new design, but still struck in nickel brass, was introduced in 1930 and struck in 1 and 10 Centavo denominations, though the whereabouts of the 1 Centavo coins is unknown and no specimens are known to collectors today. After that, no further coins would be struck for the Leper Colony, though some paper money issues would be made for them in 1942.

The Commonwealth Era: Commemorative Fever Even Spreads to Manila:

In 1935, the Philippines graduated to the status of Commonwealth (among US Territories, only Puerto Rico having ever shared that Commonwealth status), in preparation for their eventual independence just over ten years later. For 1936, a year that was easily the height of commemorative coins stateside, this commemorative fever even extended to the making of commemorative coins for the Philippines. In my opinion, no collection of US commemoratives is complete without these few issues. The commemorative 1 Peso coins are the only instance of that denomination being minted at the Manila mint. They are also unusual in having living persons (and in one case even the living US President while in office) in their design. And while the 50 centavos denomination had been minted there in 1920 and 1921, only the 1936 commemorative in that denomination bears the “M” mintmark. The 1936 1 centavo is the last coin struck to bear the standard US Territorial Eagle design used otherwise only previous to their Commonwealth era. In 1937, the new Commonwealth design for the reverses of all three 1936 Philippine commemoratives was at last made standard for all further Philippine coins, clear to the end of the Commonwealth era.
In my observation, Commonwealth era coins (not counting the 1944 and 1945 issues), especially the 1 centavo, are grossly undervalued. Well-struck and clear specimens, in a high grade (and with their original bright red copper color, in the case of the 1 Centavo), are only rarely seen. Usually, the dies are quite worn out, making them look crappy even when bright red and perfectly preserved from the moment of their being originally struck, and these coins, not perceived as being all that rare, were seldom preserved. The 1941’s, not even yet fully issued before the war struck, and barely escaped before, and especially the 1 Centavo, seem particularly uncommon in the high (MS66+ red) grades.
When it comes to the 1944 and 1945 issues, one fact not commonly known is that they were actually struck over the three year course of 1944 through 1946. There are no Philippine coins actually dated 1946, none seen, none reported, and also no 1 Centavo coins dated 1945 either, though many were minted in 1945. Once they were a Commonwealth (almost practically their own nation already), the making of coins for them no longer had to be within the calendar year of when they were struck. For US coins, by law they must always bear the year in which they are struck, unless some explicit provision to do otherwise is given (such as for the 1976 dated Bicentennial coins that were also struck in 1975). This applied to the Philippine US Territorial coins, and the Manila mint also seems to have followed this rule for their own internal reasons as far as we can tell. But coins struck stateside for other nations (and apparently for the Philippine Commonwealth as well) can be of whatever year, independent of when they were actually struck. One could also posit the idea that they may also have wanted to avoid using the date of 1946 on the coins to avoid any implication that the state of being “merely” a Commonwealth Territory of the United States might still be in effect (like we really didn’t grant them their independence as things all seemed), but that would not explain why no 1 Centavo coins were dated 1945. I do believe however that what Philippine coins as were struck in 1946 (all dated 1945 of course) would have been struck prior to July 4 of that year, in their last few months of their still being a Commonwealth. This is the breakdown by denomination, mint, year minted, and year as appears on the coins themselves:
1944-S 1 Centavo 58,000,000 (dated 1944)
1945-S 1 Centavo 78,485,798 (dated 1944)
1944-(P) 5 Centavos 21,198,000 (dated 1944)
1944-S 5 Centavos 14,040,000 (dated 1944)
1945-S 5 Centavos 36,754,000 (dated 1944)
1945-S 5 Centavos 36,042,000 (dated 1945)
1946-S 5 Centavos 28,320,000 (dated 1945)
1944-D 10 Centavos 31,592,000 (dated 1944)
1945-D 10 Centavos 51,832,000 (dated 1944)
1945-D 10 Centavos 85,376,000 (dated 1945)
1946-D 10 Centavos 6,384,000 (dated 1945)
1944-D 20 Centavos 28,596,000 (dated 1944)
1945-D 20 Centavos 33,372,000 (dated 1944)
1945-D 20 Centavos 49,432,000 (dated 1945)
1946-D 20 Centavos 7,400,000 (dated 1945)
1944-S 50 Centavos 19,187,000 (dated 1944)
1945-S 50 Centavos 10,113,000 (dated 1944)
1945-S 50 Centavos 8,007,000 (dated 1945)
1946-S 50 Centavos 6,288,000 (dated 1945)

Special Coin Alloys for World War II:

The Second World War created shortages of certain base metals, common to lower denomination coinage throughout the world including the United States and Philippines. Copper, nickel, and tin were in particular demand, to the point that copper was excluded from the United States One Cent for the year 1943, and tin for the years 1944 until somewhere mid-1946, and percentages of copper and nickel were reduced (or eliminated) for the copper-nickel Five Cent and (Centavos) during the war years. In the case of the Philippine coinage in particular, the One Centavo dated 1944 has no tin, the 5% non-copper balance of the coin being purely zinc only, as was also the case for the stateside One Cent dated for that year. Unlike the American Five Cent denomination (which went to an alloy that included silver and manganese for the wartime years), the Philippine Five Centavo denomination dated 1944 and 1945 (both mints) reduced the copper and nickel content by adding zinc, an alloy known as German silver while both coins otherwise retained their then current size and designs.
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History of All Philippine Coins
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