Argentina Silver Coins – A Brief History

Posted by on August 25, 2012
SC 1770 Spanish Colonial Milled 8 Reales Milled  300x149 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1770 Potosi 8 Reales - Spanish Colonial - milled

Argentina’s silver coins fall into a number of types.  There are those from the Spanish colonial era, and then the French sol after the King of Spain abdicated to Napoleon.  Then there are those that were minted during the wars of independence, those minted during Argentina’s various provincial alliances, and finally of the Republic of Argentina.

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SC AR 1815 Argentina 8 Soles reverse 300x291 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1815 Argentina 8 Soles - reverse

During the Spanish colonial era the silver Real coins were used with their denominations are of the Spanish Real: ½, 1, 2, 4, and 8 reals.  During the wars for independence the Real was kept and the French sol was introduced.  The first two years of struggle for independence brought in the “Argentinean” which was equal to 8 reals. The “Peso” was also introduced and supplanted all of these and was equivalent to 8 reals.  Argentina decided to adopt the decimal system by introducing the decimos as a tenth of a real and then later the centavo as an hundredth of a peso.  The peso eventually replaced the reals, soles, whose use varies from providence to providence throughout the years.

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Colonial Spain Real Cob

The Spanish had founded the initial settlements in the regions of Argentina to facilitate silver and gold transport over land from Peru in order to ship them across the Atlantic.  Many of the colonial reales were struck from chunks cut from rods and bars of the newly refined mined melts.  These are referred to as “Cob” and typically these hammer-struck coins are not as good in quality as those made in normal fashion.  Usually the silver would be rolled out into large sheets and the planchets (blanks) would be punched out of the sheets of rolled metal.  The cobbs' weights might vary and they would be clipped at the mint also because of the irregularity of the chunks the strikes were not usually strong.

SC ARG 1815 RDL Plata 8Real F 300x147 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1815 Rio de la Plat 8 Real - F

The second phase of development of Argentina and Argentina’s currency has to do with Napoleon’s conquering of Spain.   The first uprising was in May of 1810.  Corodoba was one of the first and have a castle as their central image on the reverse and the reverse has a small sun with a face and a lot of rays.  Rio de la Plata was also striking all denominations with a large sun with a face and rays on the obverse.  The reverse had what was to become part of Argentina’s seal two hands grasping and holding up a pole with the cap of Liberty on it the field is divided in half with parallel horizontal lines in the upper half.  This is all enclosed in a tall oval and surrounded by a laurel wreath with a sun, sometime with a face and always with rays, at the summit.

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1836 Argentina 8 Reales "Rosas"

Those from La Roija they used the mountain Famatina (were the silver was mined) with flags having spearheads and cannon barrels crossed underneath as well as cannonballs under that as their central motif.  Earlier coins from L Roija have Argentina’s seal on them however there are some with early confederate leader Rosas on them and there are also variations with the devices under the Mountain Famtina.  The description of all the providences’ silver coins is beyond this short article but I hope this gives you an idea of the variety produced during the turbulent decades of Argentina defining itself as a nation.

SC ARG 1883 Argentina 20 Centavos obverse 300x291 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1883 Argentina 20 Centavos - obverse

One important note at this stage is that the Spanish were using an old system of indicating the fineness (ley) of silver.  Instead of a percentage it was referred to in “dineros” (Dos) parts of twelve.  Where twelve dineros was equal to 100% and each dineros had twenty-four parts, “granos” (Gos), or twenty-four granos is equivalent to one dineros.   Then 90.2777% silver would be represented as 10Dos20Gos.  The “9Dos” or "9Ds" that is seen on many of these silver coins refers to a 75% silver content.

SC ARG 1883 Argentina 20 Centavos reverse 300x295 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1883 Argentina 20 Centavos reverse

The next phase began with several different alliances between the provinces concluding the “Confederacion Argentina” which began in 1852 without Rio de la Plata who didn’t enter into the agreement until the constitution was modified to allow them to be an autonomous state.  Even though the legend “REPULICA ARGENTINA” was not uncommon in the 1840’s it would not be until October 8, 1860 that the Presedent of Argentina Santiago Derqui changed the name to “Republica Argentina”.  Argentina finally formed and included the following provinces: Buenos Aires, Catamatos, Corrientes, EntreRios, Jjuy, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Fe, Satiago del Estero, Tucuman, (and Carmen de Patagones in Patagonia which is now part of the Buenos Aires province).

SC ARG 1882 Argentina 10 Centavos obvesre 292x300 Argentina Silver Coins   A Brief History

1882 Argentina 10 Centavos - obvesre

The peso became the standard for Argentina and silver was also used with the centazo denominations including; ten, twenty, and fifty.  In 1896 Argentina had to drop all precious metals from their coinage.  However up until then they adopted a standard for their coins having Liberty’s head with flowing hair wearing a liberty cap and ‘LIBERTAD” above her on the obverse.  The reverse has their national seal and the legend “REPUBLICA ARGENTINA” above.

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