1840 Argentina “Rebel Peso”

Among the many Latin American crowns, those from Argentina’s formative years are always popular with collectors. They have simple design types, elegantly displayed, and show the evolution of the first independent nation of Latin America, gaining independence from Spain in 1813. That same year, the first mintage of the national coinage was struck, showing the “Sol de Mayo” the bold, radiant sun face that graces much of their coinage, and adorns the national bandera. Coinage continued to depict this national symbol until 1836, when it was replaced with Mount Fatima above crossed flags and cannons. The obverse legend “Provincias Del Rio De La Plata” was replaced with “Repub. Argentina Confederada,” and the reverse legend was changed from “En Union Y Libertad” with “Eterno Loor Al Restorador Rosas.”

General Juan Miguel Rosas was just one of the many ruthless military dictators that would rule Argentina over the years, but is considered to also be one of the most successful. A native of Buenos Aires, Rosas was opposed to a centralized republic, and preferred a loose confederation of the provinces. His main opposition, the Unitaros, sought a tightly centralized republic. His brutality is expressed in the slogan “Mueran los Sauvages Unitarios,” which appeared on state documents.

During these struggles for control of Argentina, the Unitarios were led by General Brizuela. The Unitarios struck a coinage out of necessity, an 8 reales which combined the design types of the Rosas coinage, but incorporated new legends: “Republica Argentina” on the obverse and the national motto “En Union Y Libertad” on the reverse. A rare, one year type coin, with a low survival rate, the “Tipo Unitaro” infrequently appears at auction; our research indicates only a handful offered at public auction since 2000. One auction description estimates “approximately 20 specimens known,” although neither Jorge Ferrari nor Hector Carlos Jansen lists an approximate number known, or comment on rarity. It is indeed an important rarity with an interesting history.

The piece offered in our NYINC sale, lot 1066, is NGC graded EF-40, and is the only example graded by NGC. Light to moderate wear on the high points is accentuated by classic silver-russet surfaces. A classic Argentine type coin, and one that will be the centerpiece of an advanced collection.

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