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Historic Cut 8 Reales As Mentioned In The Red Book

Somewhere in the front of your copy of A Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book, around page 10 depending on your edition) is a section on the Spanish milled dollar. As per the Red Book: the milled dollar, or 8 Reales (aka piece of 8), was officially sanctioned as currency in the United States until 1859. The Red Book goes on, “Because of the shortage of small change, large coins were sometimes cut into smaller pieces for convenience. Spanish pistareens and Spanish-American milled dollars were often chopped into halves, quarters, or eighths. Fraudulent cutting into five or six “quarters” caused many to mistrust these cut pieces.”

Today’s selection features two cut Spanish 8 Reales. Each coin has been cut into five pieces each piece has been stamped with the number 3. As the Red Book mentioned, the cutting of these coins into five pieces led to mistrust among the colonies and these particular examples truly highlight why people became skeptical of cut pieces. Whoever cut these coins and stamped the pieces with the number 3 is at the heart of the colonists’ lack of trust. Why spend your 8 Reales whole when you could cut it up and turn it into 15 Reales? It sounds like a lucrative albatross scheme, and that’s exactly what it was. The mistrust of cut pieces was a factor in the institution of standardized and federally issued United States coinage, so these pieces truly have a place in United States history.

The coins will both be features in our upcoming 2012 August ANA World Sale as lots 40486 and 40487.

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