World Coin Profiles – The Spanish 100 Pesetas Gold Coin

100 Pesetas Gold Coin of Amadeus I by Tauler and Fau ……

With the fall of the reign of Isabel II of Spain, a revolutionary period started during which the social, political, and economic structures were being modernized. Within this period, the most important Spanish currency reform undertaken in the modern age was introduced: the Order of 19th October of 1868.

Centenary of the Peseta (1868-1931). Amadeo I (1871-1873). 100 pesetas. 1871*18-71. Madrid. SDM. (Cal-1). Au. 33,26 g. Yellow gold. With certificate of authenticity extended by Calicó Numismatic Cabinet in February 1985. Minor nicks on edge. Extremely rare. Almost uncirculated. Click here to see the lot.

This order put an end to the anarchic period where coins from earlier centuries and modern issues from the reign of Isabella II circulated side by side. It adopted the model of the Latin Monetary Union based on the metric system and implemented by France, Belgium, Italy, and Greece (among others over time). All of the coins issued by these countries were minted using the same alloy, weight and nominal values; both fractions and higher denominations follow the pattern of 1, 2, 5 and 10 units (francs, lira, drachmas, pesetas, etc.). We can observe that the monetary unit of all these countries weighs five grams, with a silver alloy of .835 fineness.

The Latin Union marked a great advance in the commercial and economic relationships between its constituent countries. An early version of the European Economic Union, if you will.

But this does not explain the weight of 33.26 grams of this assay of 100 pesetas of gold from Amadeus I. Following the model established by the Latin Union, the weight of this coin should have been 32.5 grams, as can be observed in later coinings of this value (e.g., the 100 pesetas of Alphonsus XIII from 1897). Starting from the base that a 20 gold francs coin (the same for 20 gold pesetas, 20 gold liras, 20 drachmas, etc.) weighs 6.45 grams, a simple multiplication by five gives us the weight of the 100 pesetas.

So what´s the reason for this difference?

Governments were not interested in putting more gold into a piece with the same interest rate as the rest of the coins from the Union that were equivalent. A possible explanation would reside in the short time the reform was ongoing and the tumultuous period of time when this coin was struck. If we observe the average weight of 100 reales/10 escudos from the previous era, this was between 8.37-8.38 grams. We should note that 4 reales equaled 1 peseta (see issuings of 1 peseta from 1836 and 1837); therefore (theoretically, at least), 100 reales equals 25 pesetas*. If we multiply the weight of 100 reales by four, we obtain a theoretical weight of 33.47-33.50* grams – much closer to the assay´s actual weight.

This implies that, inside the mint, the system of weights introduced by the reforms wasn’t  any clearer, considering that by the same time 10 escudos with the name of Isabella II were minted with the weights of the previous reign.

As seen before, the possible subsequent issues of 100 pesetas from Amadeus I would have been adjusted to these weights from the monetary system of the Order of 19th October 1868. Not so the issue struck as an assay (Royal Decree of 15th March of 1871 and 22nd August of 1871).

*This equivalency was observed at a popular level and tolerated by the different governments, from the Provisional Government until Alphonsus XIII. This “equivalency” allowed the Public Tax Office to obtain approximately 0.2 grams per piece.

**Strangely enough, the difference between the theoretical weight of the 100 pesetas assay (via the Isabelline model) and the real weight is very similar to the previous note.

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