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Grenada - Cut & Counterstamped Coins

Started by Deeman, December 29, 2021, 10:46:19 AM

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Grenada was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1763 following Britain capture of the island from the French after the Seven Years War in 1762. It was retaken by France in 1779 during the American War of Independence and returned to British mandate under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.

The first cut coins for Grenada were legislated by an Act of 21 Mar 1787, when the available Spanish dollars were passed current at 11 bits (8/3). The dollars employed under this act were cut into 11 triangular segments and passed at 1 bit (9d). They were cut with plain edges and stamped with the incuse letter 'G'. It was probably very difficult to divide a dollar into 11 pieces.

The prescribed weight of a Spanish dollar was 17.5 dwt (420 grains, 27.2 gm), which equates to an 11th segment of 38.2 grains. In practice the dollar was probably cut in 12 segments with one segment paying for the cutting operation. A twelfth segment would weigh 35 grains. As a lot of the cut coins were somewhat lightweight being already worn from being in circulation and further lightened by clipping, coupled with the immediate appearance of local contemporary forgeries, the intrinsic value of a bit was effectively only 6d (unless by weight they pass at 34.5 grains). An Act of 9 Dec 1790 fixed the rate at 6d and ordered that a payee may not receive more than one-fifth of a payment in bits. This reduction in value probably led to the cut pieces being sent to the melting pot.

The Act of 31 Jul 1798 increased the value of the dollar to 9/- with the bit at 9d (having previously been returned to that rate). The increase aligned Grenada to the majority of the Leeward Islands. Grenada came under the Windward Islands administration in 1833.

The Act of 2 Nov 1814 ordered the cutting and stamping of silver coins for change. The Spanish 8 réales were cut into segments of half, third and sixth for denominations of 6 bits (4/6), 4 bits (3/-) and 2 bits (1/6) respectively. They were counterstamped stamped with both a mark of denomination, a letter 'G' and the initials of the official stamper (either 'TR' or 'GS'). The 2 réales (pistareen) was cut into three for 1 bit.

By proclamation of 28 Feb 1823 'Anchor money' was made current.


Authority of 1787

Grenada (1787) 1 bit, 11th cut Spanish 8 réales, countermarked 'G'.


Authority of 1814

Grenada (1814) 6 bits, half cut Charles IIII 8 réales, countermarked on obverse 'GS' (moneyer) 'G' and '6'.

Grenada (1814) 4 bits, third cut Charles IIII 8 réales, countermarked on obverse 'TR' (moneyer) 'G' and '4'.

Grenada (1814) 2 bits, sixth cut 8 réales, countermarked on obverse 'TR' (moneyer) 'G' and '2'.

Grenada (1814) 1 bit, third cut 1793 Charles IIII 2 réales, countermarked on obverse 'GS' (moneyer) 'G' and '1'.

Grenada (1814) 1 bit, third cut 1798 Charles IIII 2 réales, countermarked on obverse 'TR' (moneyer) 'G' and '1'.


As on St. Lucie and St. Vincent, the story is that of a gradual rise of the Spanish colonial piece of eight (peso) against the "currency" shilling. When the rate came to 10 s. to the peso, the Anchor coins were introduced. It is therefore important to understand the concept of the shilling currency.

The shilling currency is not a shilling. It is whatever was silver currency, most often based on the peso, so that there was no link between bits and pieces of the peso circulating on the islands and reasonable weight pesos. The shilling currency was also floating against the British crown (the 5s. coin) and against circulating gold (the Brazilian Johannes, usually clipped and sweated) and against circulating billon (copper in practice) black dogs and stampees.

The shilling currency rates were fixed from time to time, only to be ignored either at once or after a short time, as the floating rates reflected the economic reality: the shilling currency coins got steadily worse. Each new tariff was in fact a recognition of the de facto devaluation (gold, silver and copper) that had taken place since the last tariff as well as an attempt to stop the devaluation. These attempts were all doomed because the islands in fact ran a current account deficit.

The current account is simple exports minus imports in a certain period. It is the part of production that goes elsewhere. If you are on a mixed gold/silver standard, exporting more than you import attracts gold and silver (and vice versa). European governments and merchants/financiers understood this. They wanted this for their own country (Colbertism). The islands produced valuable products, such as sugar and cacao with cheap domestic and slave labour. They should have been profitable and getting richer. The mechanism to turn things around was the export of profits. They were stashed in London banks, a promise to the islands that was fulfilled only with the occasional shipment of coins.

What made it worse was that London insisted to do all the coinage, so that Great Britain would capture the seigniorage. There was just no way any British coin would stay on the islands as long as they ran a current account deficit. This is why the bits and pieces of the peso were called shilling currency: the governors could pretend they were British and the addition currency would indicate that it was whatever circulated on the islands.

The period of shilling currency came to an end in 1825, when Britain had been on fiduciary coins for 9 years. The lessons of what is known as "the Great Recoinage" were applied to the colonies, the exchange rates stabilised, rates between the crown or the shilling and the domestically circulating coins firmed up with colonial coins that fitted into the local system (e.g. Cyprus) and the local coins withdrawn. It was an auspicious time for the reforms. The Spanish colonial empire was imploding and the gold sovereign was on its way to replace it. Other colonial empires followed suit.

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