An physical "Piece of Eight"

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by johnmilton, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The Spanish Milled Dollar or eight reales are called “pieces of eight.” Sometimes they really were made into to pieces of eight, which was a way to make change. The trouble, how you know if the “pie piece” was made one or two centuries ago, or last week.

    This piece is an official piece of eight. It came from the island of Curacao which counterstamped these pieces to make them official. Still, this “pie piece” looks a little skimpy. Perhaps this was a “piece of nine” or ten, which was a problem in those days.

    Curacao 3 reaale O.jpg Curacao 3 reaale R.jpg
     
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  3. serdogthehound

    serdogthehound Active Member

    Any reason that the counter stamp was the number 3 ?
     
  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I think its face value was 3 pence.
     
  5. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I won't swear to it but I think it means 3 stuiver. At the time, an 8 reales was worth 40 stuiver. So an eighth of an 8 reales would be 5 stuiver, and since as you said it's a bit small to be an eighth, I suspect it was countermarked with a 3 (stuiver) based on actual weight.
     
  6. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Lesson 1 for the day thanks GDJMSP.
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member

    I could be way off base here, but I believe the word "piece" in "piece of eight" didn't originally mean a portion but a coin. For example, in French even today "une piece" means, among other definitions, a coin. A "fifty-cent piece" is a half dollar. Thus, a "piece of eight" would be a "coin of eight reales." That being true, what you have here is a piece of a piece of eight.
     
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  8. kazuma78

    kazuma78 Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coin! Here are my 2 pieces, both of mine are a cut 1/5th. I've bid on a few of some of the other islands but have so far been outbid, especially since I've not focused on these coins. I'd like to have a St. Lucia one next. This is the note from an old dealer tag of the Curacao coin.
    o87NOjkREesmB5tL9ChK_1818 Curacao 3 Real Close up Obv1.jpeg 1Ckwe4GHReC6IpPYctzw_1818 Curacao 3 Real Close up Rev.jpeg b6Q6vpWFQgeDA9ytSK27_1818 Curacao 3 Real old tags.jpeg YILzeR4QA69qXRFc5iwg_1801 Tortola 2 Shillings Obv close up9.jpeg pgAQPLMwQtWBYLmW4aw5_1801 Tortola 2 Shillings Rev close up9.jpeg
     
  9. John Johnson

    John Johnson Well-Known Member

    It would be more commonly known as a bit. 8 reales coins were frequently cut into 8 bits. That is why quarters are still sometimes called two bits.
     
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  10. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    It does not show in the photo, but with this piece, they could have gotten 9 or 10 bits out of that dollar.
     
  11. brg5658

    brg5658 The Horse Coin Guy Supporter

    The (3) is a counterstamp signifying 3 reales. A shortage of local coinage prompted a division of the Spanish 8 reales into triangular sections often far smaller than would be their Spanish equivalent fractions.

    These chopped counterstamps began around 1799 and when the Curaçao coin regulations were implemented in 1827, the pieces counterstamped with (3) were one of the few old forms of currency legally allowed to still circulate. They circulated as half-guilder pieces for several years thereafter. This equates to 1/5 of the rijksdaalder (5 guilders = 1 rijksdaalder).
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
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