Peru’s Silver Reales

Posted by on November 6, 2012
SC PERU 1829 G Cuzco 8 Silver Reales 300x160 Perus Silver Reales

1829 G Cuzco 8 Silver Reales

Peru's first silver reales were struck during their war for independence in 1822 and continued minting them through 1863.  The Republic of Peru's striving for independence from Spain began with minor skirmishes before 1810.  Peru finally won its freedom in 1824.  However Peru was not yet free of internal and external strife at this time.  Reales continued to be Peru's standard silver coinage during its violent adolescence.  In 1857 Peru adopted its decimal currency and in 1863 Peru started calling their silver coinage “Sol”.

3909394387054040 1 Perus Silver Reales
elf Peru 1/2 Real 1858 MB Silver
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1761 Peru Silver 1 Real
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PERU 1 Real 1856/5-MB Silver XF+ Scarce
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Peru (Transitional Coinage) 1858 Silver 1/2 Real (KM177) *NGC MS63* Gothic Type
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1836 Peru 4 Real Silver
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Nice lot of 5 silver coins from Peru, one 1/4 real, four 1/2 real, all =1860
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It took nearly forty years for Peru to rectify its borders and government with itself from and its neighbors.  Chili had numerous military campaigns against Peru and Argentina had its differences as well.  Peru stood up well against these violent times.  Peru’s War of Independence had led to a shortage of silver coins throughout Peru.  Many were taken by fleeing merchants and a large number were simply hoarded.  Three mints were built in order to offset the loss of silver coins.  Cuzco’s mint was built in 1826 and struck coins through 1845.  In 1836 mints were founded in Cerro de Pasco and Arequipa.  The Arequipa mint closed in 1841 and Cerro de Pasco closed in 1857.  One of the other notable influences in Peru’s silver coins is the Peru-Bolivian Confederation of 1836 through 1839.

SC PERU 1838 Cuzco 8 Silver Reales Confeceration 300x163 Perus Silver Reales

1838 Cuzco 8 Silver Reales - Confeceration

Peru’s first reales were minted in 1822 and started to replace the Spanish colonial reales.  These reales have the following denominates:  ¼ real (sometimes called a cuartillas), 1/2 real, 1 real, 2 reales, 4 reales, and 8 reales.  The common central figure of these coins’ obverse is the standing Libertad (Liberty).  She holds a spear, which usually has the Liberty cap on it, in her right hand.  A shield, with “LIBERTAD” on it, rests  on the ground, and is being held upright by her left hand.  The sun with rays is another obverse.  It has five five-pointed stars arching above it.  The sun was used during the years of Peru's and Bolivia's confederacy.  There are also reales that have a bust of one of the several military heroes of the time.

The reverse usually has Peru’s coat of arms on it.  However the Bolivian confederacies’ coins of Peru  have a seascape with a crowned castle, a ship, a volcano, and a cornucopia with coins in it.  The Peruvian silver reales are sometimes distinguished as being from Northern (“NOR”) or Southern (“SUD”) Peru.  Peru’s motto is usually part of the obverse legend: “FIRME Y FELIZ POR LA UNION” although it may not be spelled out in full.  It means “Steady and Happy for the Union”.  The legend “REPUB PERUANA” is used for the “Republic of Peru” and the indication of north or south will be placed in between.

SC PERU 1847 LB Lima 8 Silver Reales 300x159 Perus Silver Reales

1847 LB Lima 8 Silver Reales

The name of the mint is usually in full.  However Lima’s mint mark under the Spain's rule went through four major changes and last was “M”.  Frequently “M” is used for Lima’s mint mark.  The denomination is used with the "R” for reales along with the date is always apparent.  The assayer’s initials will be on all of these and those minted during Peru’s confederacy with Bolivia will usually have “CONFEDERACION” in its legend.  Some will have their fineness also on the legend; “10D 20G”.  This uses an old way of noting purity using deneros and granos.  A pure metal would be expressed as being 12 Deneros.  Each denero is made up of 24 Granos.  Therefore these coins are (10/12) + (20/24)/12, = 0.8333333 + (0.833333/12) = 0.833333 + 0.06944444 = 0.90277778 or 90.28% fine silver.

SC PERU 1855 Lima 1 4 Silver Real 300x151 Perus Silver Reales

1855 Lima 1/4 Silver Real

The  1/4 silver real coins usually only have the most rudimentary designs.  The obverse will have the fractional notation in the center with the mints name above and the date underneath.  the reverse frequently only  has a llama in the center.  The 1/4 reals weigh on 0.84 grams and contain 00.24 troy ounces of silver.   The 1/2 real weighs 1.69 grams and contains 0.049 troy ounces of silver.   The 1 real weighs 3.38 grams and has 0.98 troy ounces of silver.  The 2 Reales weigh 6.77 grams and contain 0.145 troy ounces of silver.  The 4 reales weigh 13.54 grams and contain 0.391 troy ounces of silver.  The 8 reales weigh 27.07 grams and contain 0.903 troy ounces of silver.

Peru’s last 8 reales silver coin was struck at the Cerro de Pasco mint in 1857.  Ramon Castilla’s push to leave behind the Spanish octal system and use the decimal system was successful.  Then new steam driven machines from England replacing the old Spanish coin presses and the polish engineer Ernesto Malinowski was put in charge of running Lima’s mint.  During this time the obverse of Peru's silver coins featured a Seated Liberty.  On February 14, 1863 Marshal Miguel de San Roman replaced the 90.28% silver reales with the 90% silver sol.  The Peruvian Silver Sol was set to equal ten silver Spanish reales.

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Coins of Peru: Auction 20, 14./15. September 1988
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The History of Money
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