Have you ever before wondered why a United states quarter-dollar is dubbed “two-bits”? Or, a half-dollar “four-bits”? carry out you know why we contact our basic monetary unit “dollar” instead of miscellaneous else?

Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits, and also eight-bits make recommendation to the eight-reales silver coin of new Spain and Mexico. That is additionally called a item of eight and also circulated in the English Colonies and also freely in the USA adhering to the Revolutionary War. As a issue of fact, the eight-reales coin to be legal soft in the United states until 1857 and was the world’s many used coin in ~ one time. It is the renowned piece of eight that became component of the Spanish key pirate lore.

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The coins minted until 1734 technically, are called a cob coins, due to the fact that they were originally made by hand stamping “tail ends of bars” or “cabos de barra”, which were sliced as planchets from rudely cast, much more or less round, bullion bars which were assayed and carefully weighed. “Cabo” could well have provided us the surname of cob, although it does average a bump or little mass (as the coal). The second definition comes indigenous the dutch “kubb”.

Cob coinage to be made in ~ the an initial mint in the ameri in Mexico City, developed in 1535. Authorized through a Spanish imperial Decree date 14 September 1519 come melt, cast, mark and also put aside the royal-fifth that the gold and silver being built up from the Aztecs in Mexico City (Tenochtitlan). He used the palace of Axay catl (father of Moctezuma II) for the task. This may be thought about the very first foundry of brand-new Spain and of all North America.

When Cortes moved right into a home in 1521 in what is today the Mexico City suburb the Coyoacn, he developed the 2nd foundry in stimulate to satisfy the need for currency and also produced “more than 130,000 castellanos”, follow to details in documents gathered by Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana. “Castellano” (Castilian) to be the existing coin that the time. These to be the very first cobs the the brand-new World. The royal 5th was faithfully sent out to Spain in the Spanish galleons.

When the Viceroyalty of new Spain was established by Spanish imperial Decree signed by the Queen that Spain the 11th of might of 1535, the Casa de Moneda (house the coin or mint) was formally established. Beginning sometime in April of 1536, follow to the best estimates, the very first mint that the Americas started coining operations.

Cobs walk not begin pouring-out into human being marketplaces till the regime of Phillip II, after ~ 1556. This crudely minted reales (literally, royals) of silver- were undated till 1580 once some were and others were not significant with the year of coinage. The first pieces the eight to be struck in Spain, as at an early stage as 1497, back it to be not until after 1572 the the Casa de Moneda in Mexico City struck them. Before that time, just denominations smaller than eight-reales were struck in Mexico.

These were fine quality silver, assayed at .931 or .916. This is finer and nearly as fine as the conventional for sterling silver, i beg your pardon is .925, or 92.5% pure. Later, milled coins contained .9027 silver- which is normally rounded off together .903 in print. Plenty of of the coins of new Spain were handsome, particularly the specimens referred to as “royal strikes” which were made with round planchets and also the later milled coins. The silver contents of 20th Century mexico coins dropped together low together .100 and also was eventually eliminated from coins. Silver- USA dollars and lesser worth coins likewise disappeared indigenous circulation.


In 1732, the Mexico City mint started producing milled coins. They are dubbed “milled” since the planchets were cut from rolling (or milled) silver. The planchets to be round and also flat as opposed to the cob planchets. These were stamped with hand-cranked screw presses. One hundred and also fifty years later, in January that 1882, the Casa de Moneda began stamping coins through a vapor press purchased native Morgan, Orr & Co. The Philadelphia. In the beforehand 1900’s Mexico mounted its first hydraulic press, likewise bought in the USA.

The silver item of eight progressed into the silver- peso of Mexico and the silver dollar the the USA, which, for all helpful purposes was identical in content and also value with the at an early stage 1900s. “Peso” method weight in Spanish. The dollar gets its surname from the German “thaler” or “taler”.

Mexican, or to be more exact, coins from new Spain (the main name in ~ the time), were made primarily because it was the many convenient way of exporting and transporting the vast quantities of silver- being mined. Gold coins called “escudos” (shields) or doubloons were likewise produced. The silver pieces of eight began their travel from the new World to Spain and also then on to Asia and Africa. A great convenience the coins is that they are easily exchanged for goods and also services.

The English colonies of America to be prohibited through royal legislation from coining, minting, or even so much as making use of coins. The colonists were claimed to ship any and all coins to mother England in payment for manufactured goods. This, that course, precluded any foolhardy colonist from beginning a mint. Besides, over there is little silver or yellow to be had actually in new England and eastern Canada to this day. So, the English colonies decided to use paper money which offered them well until they attempted to finance the USA Revolutionary War v it. By 1780, this type of currency became useless and also worthless and the money dubbed Continental currency collapsed.

Immediately, component of the vacuum to be filled by the milled Spanish-American silver issues based upon the real system in denominations the 1/8R v eight-reales. The most widely circulated that these was the item of eight, which, once supplies of smaller denomination coins dwindled were chopped or reduced into smaller sized pieces to do change. Thus, one eighth of eight-reales ended up being one bit, one quarter two-bits–the identical of our existing day quarter-dollar. One-half is four-bits and three quarters space six-bits. Many think these expression to it is in slang, yet, history suggests they are perfectly an excellent nomenclature.

When do plans for a monetary system, the joined States taken into consideration using one comparable to the actual system. This was due to the fact that it to be the most common system used in the USA in ~ the time, and was acquainted to many citizens. A system based on the item of eight was agreed to and also renamed “dollar” in the 1780s. To this day, in the USA we see the use of dollar or crown instead of “real” or “peso” also for modern-day Mexican coins.

It was not till 1792 that the system became law in the USA, which corresponded with the establishment of a new coinage mechanism in the world. The arrival of the decimal system split the item of eight into one hundred components or cents and also became the traditional for coinage transparent the world. The us Mint action of 1792 provided for the very first United claims Mint, which to be set-up in Philadelphia.

By comparison, Mexico, i beg your pardon rebelled versus Spain in 1810, go not adopt decimal coinage till 1857 and started striking decimals in 1863, after the downfall the the second Mexican empire, that Maximilian I. In 1869 Mexico discontinued the item of eight and also replaced it v the peso, i m sorry was the same in silver- content and weight, but two millimeter smaller. This proved to be unfortunate, since the eight-reales coin to be used much more than 200 years as THE profession coin, and was the most important coin in use in Mexico, the Philippines, main America, China, India, Indo-China, Africa, and also the near East.


Mozambique counterstamp top top 1780 Maria Theresa Thaler

Its worth was seldom questioned, return it contended with various other so called “trade dollars”, such as the Maria Teresa thaler. The Maria Teresa thaler was an initial struck in 1790 and is still gift coined and also to today is offered in countless countries. The eight-reales coin came to be the most widely offered silver piece in the world until late in the 1800’s. Asian merchants respond to stamped the piece of eight to certify them together authentic. These stamps are dubbed “chop marks” and also can be viewed on some coins being sold to collectors today.

At its height of acceptance, till 1869, the eight reales coin of Mexico to be the “non add to ultra” of silver coins. Nevertheless, the new Mexican peso was exported, v the same intrinsic value as the item of eight it replaced. The differences were in design and markings. The peso is 2 millimeters smaller sized in diameter. It to be not very well accepted. In China, for example, once it was accepted, it was at a discount of increase to four percent. The eight-reales coin is 39mm in diameter and also contains 20g that pure silver. The ill-fated peso the tried to replace it is 37mm in diameter and likewise contains 20g of pure silver.

Since Mexico greatly depended on its exports of silver coins and also the peso was no well accepted, that reissued the eight-reales coin. In the meantime, the peso to be discontinued until 1898, and when the reappeared the was with a style very similar to the piece of eight. The critical eight-reales coins were produced in 1897. Today, just the Maria Teresa thaler is being struck, albeit with an old date.

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The speak “A disagreement does not go an extremely far these days” is no longer a saying. That is a fact! One dollar and also one peso coins no longer contain lot if any silver. . .