coinsbygary's Blog

10 Nov 2019

The 5-peseta Coin and the Latin Monetary Union

Coins-World | coinsbygary

The 1870(70) 5-peseta coin minted in Madrid has a mintage of 5,923,455. It is 37mm in diameter with a silver fineness of .900 weighing 25 grams. The obverse initials L.M. underneath Hispania's feet refer to engraver Luis Marchionni. The initials S.N. along the lower left rim of the reverse refer to mint assayers Donato Álvarez Santullano and Rafael Narváez. The initial .M. along the lower right rim of the reverse represents balance judge Ángel Mendoza Ordóñez.

The idea for the peseta which is Spanish for "small weight" was to bring Spain's monetary structure into conformity with the Latin Monetary Union. The Latin Monetary Union was established on December 23, 1865, by the countries of France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland. The purpose of the Latin Monetary Union was to standardize the currencies of the member nations so that each nation's currency would exchange at parity in other member countries.

The Latin Monetary Union formally came to an end in 1927 as a result of several failures such as the bimetallic monetary system. Bimetallic monetary systems are based on a silver to gold ratio. In 1870 that ratio was 15.5 to 1. The main problem with this ratio was the constant market fluctuations in both the value of silver and gold that affected it.

Ultimately, Spain did not join the Latin Monetary Union. However, they enjoyed the benefits of having their 5-pesetas exchanged at parity with 5 French Francs, 5 Belgian Francs, 5 Italian Lira, 5 Swiss Francs, and 5 Greek drachmae. Greece was admitted to the Latin Monetary Union on April 18, 1867. The fineness of the largest silver coin was to be .900 as is the 5-peseta. For the minor silver coins, the fineness was to be .835 as is the 20 and 50 centimos and the 1 and 2-pesetas. This brought all of Spain's silver coins into conformity with the Latin Monetary Union.

As with the bronze coins of the Spanish Provisional Government, the reverse legends of the silver coins express the weight of the coin as a ratio to a kilogram. Weighing 25 grams, there are 40, 5-pesetas coins, in a kilogram. By law (Spanish LEY), the reverse legend of the 1870 5-pesetas coin also displays a silver fineness of .900.

All the other Spanish Provisional Government minor silver coins have reeded edges. The 5-peseta, however, has an edge inscription of "Soberania Nacional" with five, six-pointed stars. In English, "Soberania Nacional" is translated, "National Sovereignty." Thus, I believe it is likely that if the 5-peseta coin was to be equally traded in other countries at parity that the Spanish government would declare their national sovereignty to the world through their coinage.


It's Mokie

Level 6

Great research Gary, and another fascinating corner of our hobby illuminated.


Level 6

Nicely done. I can't think of a better way for a nation to declare its sovereignty than through its coinage. Especially at this time in history. Very interesting. Thanks.

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