Coin (8 Reales)
Mexico City Mint, Mexico; dated 1743
Mint master, Francisco Monllor; Manuel de León and Francisco de la Peña, assayers
Gift of Robert F. Trent 1990.0077
The Spanish “dollar,” or piece of eight, was commonly circulated currency and used as legal tender in several nations, including the United States, prior to the mid-1800s. China’s trade with European and American merchants specified Spanish silver coin as the medium of exchange. The 8 Reales coin was called the piece of eight because it could be divided like a pie into eight pieces or “bits” of lesser value.
Made in Mexico City at the first European mint established in the Americas, coins like this one, which were 91.6% pure silver in the early 1700s, were sometimes melted down to be recycled into new items. This 8 Reales coin bears the royal armorial device and inscription for Philip V of Spain (1683–1746), who reigned from 1700 until his death.