Spanish Milled Dollar.

"Piece of Eight."

England forbade the early American colonies to mint coins, leaving the settlers to make do with barter, foreign coins and local currency. While English coins remained scarce. The most circulated coin in the colonies was the Spanish milled dollar. Minted in the Rich Spanish colonies of Mexico and Peru since 1500, this one ounce of silver had a milled (patterned) edge to prevent dishonest folk from "shaving" the edges. The coin was so highly respected that it became an international trade coin. Some originals have Chinese markings, approving their use.

Pirates were always glad to find "Pieces of Eight & Gold Doubloons" amongst their horde. The American government sanctioned these coins until the late 1850's and other denominations are still found in archeological digs in such places as Columbia, California, where thousands of miners dropped coins during the gold rush years. The Annals of San Francisco mentions that every foreign coin that came close to the coins accepted in the "states", as set for prescribed measure in silver or gold, were being used in 1855. (i.e.; a German Mark ["thaler" i.e.: daalder, daler], a French Franc, a Spanish 8 Real, an English Crown, were equal to the American Dollar, even though the silver content might have varied.)

It was the dividing of these 8 reals into half ounce, quarter ounce and eighth of an ounce that created our half dollar, quarter dollar and "bits" (12.5 cents). Until recently (c2000) the New York Stock Exchanged still used the factor that eight-eights made a whole.

"Pieces of Eight."

This page is created for the benefit of the public by

Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.

Email contact:
fdpoyde3 (at) Yahoo (dot) com
created for the visitors to the Columbia State Historic park.
© Columbia State Historic Park & Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.