The Yoke of Domination: Filipino Numismatics from the Pasig River Collection

​Dating back to her western discovery by Ferdinand Magellan’s Spanish expedition in 1521, the Philippine Islands have served as a cultural and religious crossroads among the east, near east, and west. Over the ensuing 3½ centuries, Spain would further her control in the archipelago, subjugating various fiefdoms and quelling numerous revolts. In 1872, the clamor for Filipino independence grew as three priests were accused of sedition and executed. By 1892, a secret society known as the Katipunan was formed for the purpose of achieving freedom from Spain. Revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo eventually took the lead of the rebellion, though a truce was signed late in 1897 in order to temporarily reduce the hostilities. In the meantime, the Spanish-American War—focusing upon Spanish influence in the western hemisphere in the form of Cuba—was about to commence. The conflict eventually spread to direct confrontation between Spanish and American forces in the Philippines that resulted in a swift and decisive victory for the latter. Aguinaldo, who had been in exile in Hong Kong since the truce, returned in the role of an unofficial alliance with the Americans, leading rebel forces around the archipelago. Though Spanish rule was effectively ended in the summer of 1898, an official finale did not arrive until the Treaty of Paris in December, formally concluding the Spanish-American War. In this treaty, control not only of Cuba, but also of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, was ceded to the United States. For the Filipino rebels, subjugation by one western power had seemingly been replaced by yet another.

In early 1899, cohesion between Filipino rebels and American troops quickly evaporated, with the former holding much of the archipelago and the latter merely occupying Manila. War was officially declared in June, though hostilities began in February with the Battle of Manila. The might of the American forces proved too great for the nascent Philippine Republic to handle, and the war came to an end three years later in 1902. For the next three decades, American influence would dominate in the form of the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands. The effect was felt everywhere, including coinage. Such coinage provides a highlight collection in our upcoming ANA auction to be held August 16, 2019 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

The Pasig River Collection features some of the most stunning examples of Filipino coins assembled, with many being the finest certified. This array of denominations and dates will undoubtedly present an important opportunity for the connoisseur to acquire pieces unlikely to be rivaled anytime soon. Some of these exceptional offerings include a trio of Pesos (1907-S, 1909-S, and 1911-S; lots 21509, 21512, and 21515, respectively), all spectacularly toned gems with incredible eye appeal. Of particular note is an absolute key to the series—a stunning mint error whereby a 5 Centavos was muled with a 1918-S 20 Centavos reverse die (lot 21545). Owing to their similarity in size, the error itself went unnoticed for years, resulting in many examples seeing their fair share of circulation. The gem from this collection will assuredly become the centerpiece of one of the finest Filipino cabinets. Additionally, numerous early proof sets featuring an array of Gem and plus Gem examples are offered; these are very seldom encountered so majestic.

Throughout this series of coinage, the influence of the United States is on full display, rather overtly, on the reverses of the various denominations, as the coat-of-arms contains an eagle, with wings fully spread, atop a shield adorned with the American stars and stripes. Additionally, the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints produced the majority of Filipino coinage. In this way, reminders of colonialism remained long after the previous power, Spain, was defeated.

In 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the invasion of the Philippines began. History was seemingly repeating itself, with the Japanese now ousting the Americans in power, leading to a surrender and subsequent Japanese occupation for the next three years. During this period of strife, the Pasig River Collection tells the story not through coins, but rather through medals. One such type is the "Homma" medal, so named for General Masaharu Homma, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Armed Forces who oversaw the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Lot 21571, an exceptional near choice piece, is undoubtedly one of the finest, and is followed by three additional versions of the type (lots 21572-21574). Another interesting medal recounts the Japanese air attack on the Philippines (lot 21576) by Battalion 9936, a very rare piece in such a pleasing state of preservation. Additional medals issued for the aforementioned Bataan campaign—infamous for the grueling Bataan Death March—include lots 21582-21584, all rare and historically important pieces. During the occupation, a puppet state was created, with Jose P. Laurel installed as president. Though this served as little more than sanitization for Japanese domination, medals also recount this brief period, such as lot 21586—a very rare and attractive piece featuring the "president’s" bust and a national flag, this despite there being no actual aspects of democracy or republicanism.

Following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war in the eastern theater was finally brought to a swift end and, with it, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Less than a year later, the Philippines finally achieved the freedom and self-rule that had long been sought, 425 years after Magellan’s exploration brought with it the subjugation of outsiders.

Viewing for this wondrous collection, as well as the rest of our ANA auction, is presented on our Stack’s Bowers site.

Though the consignment windows for this auction and our August Hong Kong auction have passed, we are always seeking interesting and exceptional coins, medals, and pieces of paper money for our future sales, the next of which will be our Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auction in October and our Official Auction of the N.Y.I.N.C. in January 2020. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today at 800-458-4646 or by email at [email protected]. We will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.

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