Prince Edward Island Holey Dollars

Started by Deeman, December 27, 2021, 03:29:21 PM

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Deeman

On Prince Edward Island (PEI), formerly Island of St. John, officials punched out the centres of dollars and made two coins – a 'holey' dollar of 5/- and the plug or dump of 1/-.

Upon his arrival in PEI in 1813, Charles Smith, the island's newly appointed lieutenant-governor, discovered that there was a serious shortage of circulating coin. Although Spanish coins, mainly the dollars or 8-réales, occasionally found their way to the island in trade, they rarely remained in circulation because they were used to pay for imported goods. There was no statute of PEI that makes reference to Spanish dollars. The authority for the issue of holey dollars is contained in a Council minute of 22 Sep 1813 in which Smith issued a proclamation "Spanish dollars limited to the number of 1,000 to be cut at the Treasury by having a circular piece taken out of the centre of each; the entire so cut to be issued from and received at the Treasury as 1/- currency." Thus, each Spanish dollar provided two silver coins - the outer ring or 'holey dollar' and the centre plug - with a combined total value of 6/-. Since the unmutilated Spanish dollar was valued at only 5/-, it was hoped that by overrating the holey dollar and plugs these pieces would remain in circulation on the island. Both the central plug and rims were stamped with a sunburst - a ring consisting of ten triangles.

However, owing to a large number of merchant counterfeits, the official issue was recalled and, after 28 Sep 1814, even genuine issues were no longer exchangeable at the colonial Treasury. However, the unredeemed holey dollars, as well as the merchants' forgeries, continued to circulate for many years. The plugs were too large, so that their intrinsic specie content was nearly double what it should have been. They were being gathered up and shipped to England as bullion for reminting - an enterprise only aborted when the ship carrying the plugs was lost at sea.

Deeman

Spanish dollars



Prince Edward Island (1813) 5 shillings, host coin 1783 Carlos III 8 réales, Mexico City mint, assayer FF, central pierced hole with sunburst counterstamp.






Prince Edward Island (1813) 5 shillings, host coin 1800 Carlos IIII 8 réales, Mexico City mint, assayer FM, central pierced hole with sunburst counterstamp.






Prince Edward Island (1813) 5 shillings, host coin 1808 Carlos IIII 8 réales, Mexico City mint, assayer TH, central pierced hole with sunburst and crowned 'V' counterstamps. Carlos IV was deposed on 19 Mar 1808.

Deeman

Bank of England dollar



Prince Edward Island (1813) 5 shillings, host coin 1804 George III Bank of England dollar, central pierced hole with sunburst counterstamp.

Tirant

Interesting. I've seen many pieces of 8 reales (from both Carlos IV and Fernando VII) with counterstamps for making them legal currency in Asia, but i don' remember seeing these "holed" coins.

It's interesting (more like kind of sad) to see how the spanish pieces of 8 were the most popular currency around the world back in the XVIII and XIX centuries, and how it turned into nothing nearly 100 years later.

Once again, thanks for your work.

brandm24

#4
Quote from: Tirant on December 27, 2021, 06:23:15 PM
It's interesting (more like kind of sad) to see how the spanish pieces of 8 were the most popular currency around the world back in the XVIII and XIX centuries, and how it turned into nothing nearly 100 years later.

Once again, thanks for your work.

You're right about the popularity of the Spanish 8-Reales, and to a lesser extent, the smaller denomination pieces. They were readily accepted in the American colonies pre and post revolutionary eras. In 1857 legislation was enacted that forbade their acceptance in commerce. Though often privately counterstamped no official governmental marks were ever applied to them.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

In a global context, there were two types of Spanish coins (not counting provincial coins, such as those of Barcelona): homeland and colonial. Colonial coins came from the mints in the silver mining areas in South America. They were minted there in order to evade high import duties on raw silver. They were minted by Indian slave labour who were worked to death and drugged at the end of their life to keep them working. Consequently, they were very badly struck. In addition, mint officials were corrupt, so that the coins were permanently underweight, to the extent that some mint officials are known to have been garotted. Ironically, these badly struck coins with uncertain silver content formed the backbone of the Spanish dominance of the silver coin supply.

Colonial coins followed three paths. One part stayed in the Americas and dominated the coin supply there. They are the cut and counterstamped pieces Deeman has shown here and they are hard to find today. Another part was loaded onto the Manilla galleon, a giant ship, built once a year that went from Manilla to South American ports and back, to be broken up after the trip. These coins dominated supply in East Asia. They are often counterpunched and these are the coins Tirant mentions upthread.

The third part went across the continent, going in local ships to Havana where the load was combined and transferred to big ships, combined into a fleet with an armed escort and shipped mainly to Southern Spanish towns that boasted a port and mint. This flow was supposed to be remelted and turned into homeland coins of reasonable quality.

In practice, Spain was almost continually at war until 1648. There was not enough time to re-mint all the colonial coins, so many were shipped as they were to the war theatre. Coins for the army in the Netherlands (the Burgundy inheritance, in Spanish terms), for instance would be shipped to friendly Italian ports, transferred to donkeys and forwarded across the alps to Augsburg (a large financial centre at the time) and Brussels and from there to the troops. This flow should not be counted as international coins. They were accepted by weight and re-melted if captured or used in payments of taxes and the like on the way. Research has shown that on average, roughly 50% of the silver was lost between the mine and the area of circulation.

The coins of the other flows eventually reached Europe through trading. They formed an international reserve currency. Spain could corner the market for "reserve" coins used in international trade because it could supply vast quantities of silver coins. It lost that market because the coins were of an uncertain silver content and because it lost its colonial empire at a time silver production was already diminishing and paper was the new cash.

See also my presentation on reserve currencies here.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Tirant

Quote from: Figleaf on December 28, 2021, 06:08:31 PM
Colonial coins came from the mints in the silver mining areas in South America. They were minted there in order to evade high import duties on raw silver. They were minted by Indian slave labour who were worked to death and drugged at the end of their life to keep them working. Consequently, they were very badly struck. In addition, mint officials were corrupt, so that the coins were permanently underweight, to the extent that some mint officials are known to have been garotted. Ironically, these badly struck coins with uncertain silver content formed the backbone of the Spanish dominance of the silver coin supply.

It have always been told that the colonial coins (those known as "cobs", "macuquinas" in spanish) had that dreadful minting due to the difficulties to ship modern machinery overseas. Never heard about slave labour (what i don't deny, i wasn't there); just that they were handcutted and struck with a hammer because they didn't had the machinery.

But i totally agree about the corruption deals (something that seems that we'll never get rid of). Not only officials, also common people used to cut the coins to steal the silver. To avoid that, flowered edges were introduced in the XVIII century.

Anyway, it's a very complete explaination.

Figleaf

You are quite right to be careful about historic information on Spain. There is a web of propaganda stories that were made up in the many countries that Spain was at war with. These stories are known as the Spanish black legend. However, there is also a Spanish white legend of stories that came about in Spain, notably in the Franco era. Neutral sources, including Wikipedia - watched and corrected on a daily basis - can help you see through the legends and find both sides of the story.

Slavery in Latin America is well documented. Indian slaves worked notably in agriculture and mining. In silver mining specifically, there were two principal abuses. First, working to death. Slaves who had worked in mines quickly became exhausted by the back-breaking work. They were considered unfit for other work. They would be given drugs that kept them at work even while in severe pain. Another abuse occurred in silver refining, which was done with mercury. The mercury would silently destroy the slaves' health. Refining with mercury without protection still occurs in some African countries. In developed countries, working with mercury is restricted by detailed worker safety rules.

This is not a nationality-based problem. Other nationalities with colonies in Latin America (and elsewhere), Portugal, Britain, France, the Netherlands all committed the same kind of systematic abuses against slaves. It is also not a problem of a certain era. It occurred from ancient times until slavery was abolished on a country by country basis.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.