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Neil S Berman - Expert Numismatist & Silver Coin Dealer

Silver Coins Trade through History

The Silver of the New World and beyond

Because there were lots of them and they were always the correct weight and purity of silver,  the Spanish Dollar quickly became a favorite of merchants and governments everywhere. With the colonization of the Americas after 1492, the first really large amounts of silver began to flow from the New World to Spain and a lesser degree Portugal. Especially the rich silver mines in Bolivia and Mexico gave rise to really large quantities of large silver coins, tens of thousands of which survive today. Within decades after Columbus' discovery, silver coins were minted by the millions in the Americas and shipped to Spain. The coins minted in the Americas were initially very crudely manufactured and called cobs instead of coins. Besides Spain and Portugal, it was widely used in England and the Netherlands, much of continental Europe, all the Americas, and the most all of the Far East. It is considered by most scholars as the first world currency. The Spanish dollar is the coin upon which the original United States dollar was based on, and the Spanish dollar remained legal tender in the United States and Canada until the late 1850s. By the 17th century the Pillar dollar was the coin of choice in the Indian and the Mongol states, Bengal, China and the area that became French Indo-China, Siam, Eastern Persia, the Dutch East Indies and Ceylon, and as north as Manchuria and Korea. By the late 18th century currencies, such as the Canadian dollar, Japanese and Chinese Yen were based on the Spanish dollar and other 8-reales coins.

Pillar Coins Spanish Milled Dollar Mexican Peso
Pillar Dollar
Spanish Milled Dollar Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso is probably the oldest currency in all of the Americas, and certainly North America. Its original design follows closely the original Spanish silver dollar and the earlier Spanish Pillar Dollar, sometimes called a piece of eight piece, because it could be divided  into pieces as small as an eight and still be used as currency . It was at one time legal tender everywhere in the America including both the U.S.A and Canada. The Mexican peso is the descendant of the Original eight piece that the Spanish government issued in Mexico. Mexico continued the same pattern for their currency after gaining their independence. At one time the Spanish dollar was an acceptable mode of payment in places as remote as China. The Mexican peso continued to be the most stable and safe currency. The term peso was used in Spanish to refer to this denomination, and it became the basis for many of the currencies in the former Spanish colonies, including what is now Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the West Indies (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti ), Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.








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