Spanish colonial real

The silver real (Spanish: real de plata) was the currency of the Spanish colonies in America and the Philippines. In the seventeenth century the silver real was established at two billon reals (reales de vellón) or sixty-eight maravedís. Gold escudos (worth 16 reales) were also issued. The coins circulated throughout Spain's colonies and beyond, with the eight-real piece, known in English as the Spanish dollar, becoming an international standard and spawning, among other currencies, the United States dollar. A reform in 1737 set the silver real at two and half billon reals (reales de vellón) or eighty-five maravedís. This coin, called the real de plata fuerte, became the new standard, issued as coins until the early 19th century. The gold escudo was worth 16 reales de plata fuerte.

1799 Carlos III Real Obverse
Obverse of a 1799 Real


Coins were produced at mints in Bogotá, Caracas, Guatemala City, Lima, Mexico City, Popayán, Potosí, Santo Domingo and Santiago. For details, see the:

After the independence of Spain's colonies, the real was replaced by currencies also denominated in reales and escudos, including the Argentine real, Central American Republic real, Ecuadorian real, Honduran real, Paraguayan real and Santo Domingo real.


From 1572 to 1773 Spanish colonial silver coins were cobs. Initially cut from a silver bar and hammer struck on a coin die, they were accurate in weight, though sometimes debased in precious metal content. However unlike machined coins, they were often irregular in shape, especially if a too-thick coin was clipped by the mint to reach the proper weight. After 1732 similar, but better shaped cobs were produced on screw presses. Cob denominations were 1/2, 1, 2, 4, and 8 reales. When circulating in New England the larger coins might be cut to give intermediate values; since a real was nicknamed a "bit", the expression "two bits" came to mean a quarter dollar.[1]

Unlike in Spain, the copper coins were generally not struck by the colonial mints. Most issued silver coins in denominations of ¼, ½, 1, 2, 4 and 8 reales and gold coins for ½, 1, 2, 4 and 8 escudos. Exceptions were the Santo Domingo mint, which did strike maravedís in the sixteenth century and the Caracas mint which issued fraction of real copper coins in the early nineteenth century to facilitate commerce.

See also


  1. ^ Spanish Colonial Cobs: Introduction
  • Krause, Chester L.; Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
Bolivian sol

The sol was the currency of Bolivia between 1827 and 1864. There were no subdivisions of the sol but 16 soles were equal to 1 scudo. The sol replaced the Spanish colonial real at par and was replaced by the boliviano at a rate of 8 soles = 1 boliviano. Only coins were issued.

Central American Republic real

The real was the currency of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1824 to 1838/1841. Sixteen silver reales equaled one gold escudo. The Central American Republic's real replaced the Spanish colonial real at par and continued to circulate and be issued after the constituent states left the Central American Republic. The currency was replaced by the Costa Rican real, Salvadoran peso, Guatemalan peso, Honduran real and Nicaraguan peso.

Chilean peso

The peso is the currency of Chile. The current peso has circulated since 1975, with a previous version circulating between 1817 and 1960. Its symbol is defined as a letter S with either one or two vertical bars superimposed prefixing the amount, $ or ; the single-bar symbol, available in most modern text systems, is almost always used. Both of these symbols are used by many currencies, most notably the United States dollar, and may be ambiguous without clarification, such as CLP$ or US$. The ISO 4217 code for the present peso is CLP. It is officially subdivided into 100 centavos, although there are no current centavo-denominated coins. The exchange rate was around CLP$600 to 1 United States dollar at the end of 2014 and as of 1 April 2018.

Colombian real

The real was the currency of Colombia until 1837. No subdivisions of the real existed until after the real had ceased to be the primary unit of currency. However, 8 reales = 1 peso and 16 reales = 1 escudo.

Ecuadorian real

The real was the currency of Ecuador until 1871. There were no subdivisions but 16 silver reales equalled 1 gold escudo, with the 8 reales coin known as a peso.

Haitian livre

The livre was the currency of Haiti until 1813. The Haitian livre was a French colonial currency, distinguished by the use, in part, of Spanish coins. It was equal to the French livre and was subdivided into 20 sous, each of 12 deniers. The escalin of 15 sous was also used as a denomination, since it was equal to the Spanish colonial real. Coins specifically for use in Haiti were issued between 1802 and 1809, along with various overstamped coins.

The livre was replaced by the Haitian gourde in 1813, at a rate of 1 gourde = 8 livre 5 sous (11 escalin).

Honduran real

The real was the currency of Honduras until 1862. Before 1824, the Spanish colonial real circulated, followed by the Central American Republic real. Sixteen silver reales equalled one gold escudo.

Honduras's own real was introduced in 1832. Coins were issued in denominations of ½, 1, 2, 4 and 8 reales. The first issues were minted in 33.3% silver but severe debasement followed, leading to an issue in 1853 containing just 4% silver. This was followed in 1855 and 1856 by an issue in copper and then an issue between 1857 and 1861 in a copper-lead alloy.

The real was replaced by the peso at a rate of 8 reales = 1 peso. The real continued as the subdivision of the peso until 1871.

New Kingdom of León

The New Kingdom of León (Spanish: Nuevo Reino de León), was an administrative territory of the Spanish Empire, politically ruled by the Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was located in an area corresponding generally to the present-day northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León.

Nuevo Santander

Nuevo Santander (New Santander) was a region of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, covering the modern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and extending into modern-day southern Texas in the United States. A history of Texas, commissioned by the U.S. government's Federal Writers' Project in 1934, noted that "The borders of New Santander did not stop at the Rio Bravo" (the Mexican name for the Rio Grande); and added that the borders "went north to the Nueces, near Corpus Christi, then west and north to the Medina, then south again on a line along Laredo to the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madres, deep in Mexico." Nuevo Santander was named after Santander, Cantabria, Spain, and settled by Spanish American colonists in a concerted settlement campaign peaking in 1748–1750. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara in judicial matters, and in 1776 Nuevo Santander became part of the semi-autonomous Provincias Internas.

José de Escandón founded the colony in 1747. In 1755 Jiménez was founded which became the major town and capital of the colony. The state was subsequently renamed to Tamaulipas once Mexico gained its independence in 1821.

Paraguayan real

The real was the currency of Paraguay until 1856. Initially, the Spanish colonial real circulated. This was followed, in 1813, by the Argentine real. In 1845, Paraguay began issuing its own reales. Sixteen silver reales equaled one gold escudo. In 1856, the Paraguayan peso was introduced, worth 8 reales. The real continued to circulate as the subdivision of the peso until 1870, when Paraguay decimalized.

The only coin issued for Paraguay in this currency was a copper ​1⁄12 real piece, struck in 1845. These coins were devalued to ​1⁄24 real in 1847.

Peruvian real

The real was the currency of Peru until 1863. Sixteen silver reales equalled one gold escudo. The silver coin of 8 reales was also known as the peso.


Real may refer to:

Reality, the state of things as they exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be.

Real numbers, in mathematics, extension of the rational numbers (and opposed to imaginary numbers)

Various uses involving the Spanish word real, meaning "royal."

Real de plata

Real de plata is a Spanish term, translated as: "silver real", a historic silver coin and standard currency.

Spanish colonial real Spanish: real de plata; currency standard and silver coin; eight to the Spanish dollar

Mexican real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver standard coin and currency of Mexico 1822-1897

Spanish real, a historic silver coin

Philippine real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of the Philippines 19th century

Paraguayan real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of Paraguay 19th century

Peruvian real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of Peru 19th century

Ecuadorian real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of Ecuador 19th century

Honduran real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of Honduras 19th century

Costa Rican real, a silver Spanish colonial real coin or a silver coin of Costa Rica 19th century

Central American Republic real, currency standard and silver coin of the Central American Republic

Spanish West Indies

The Spanish West Indies or the Spanish Antilles (also known as "Las Antillas Occidentales" or simply "Las Antillas Españolas" in Spanish) was the former name of the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. In terms of governance of the Spanish Empire, The Indies was the designation for all its overseas territories and was overseen by the Council of the Indies, founded in 1524 and based in Spain. When the crown established the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535, the islands of the Caribbean came under its jurisdiction.

The islands claimed by Spain were Hispaniola, modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic; Cuba, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Guadalupe and the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Venezuela (Margarita island), Trinidad, and the Bay Islands.

The islands that later became the Spanish West Indies were the focus of the voyages of the Spanish expedition of Christopher Columbus in America. Largely due to the familiarity that Spaniards gained from Columbus's voyages, the islands were also the first lands to be permanently colonized by Spanish in the Americas. The Spanish West Indies were also the most enduring part of Spain's American Empire, only being surrendered in 1898 at the end of the Spanish–American War. For over three centuries, Spain controlled a network of ports in the Caribbean including Havana (Cuba), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Veracruz (Mexico), and Portobelo, Panama, which were connected by galleon routes.

Some smaller islands were seized or ceded to other European powers as a result of war, or diplomatic agreements during the 17th and 18th centuries. Others such as Dominican Republic gained their independence in the 19th century.

Spanish real

The real (meaning: "royal", plural: reales) was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century,. It underwent several changes in value relative to other units throughout its lifetime until it was replaced by the peseta in 1868. The most common denomination for the currency was the silver eight-real Spanish dollar or peso which was used throughout Europe, America and Asia during the height of the Spanish Empire.

Venezuela Province

The Venezuela Province (or Province of Caracas) was a province of the Spanish Empire (from 1527), of Gran Colombia (1824-1830) and later of Venezuela (from 1830), apart from an interlude (1528 - 1546) when it was contracted as a concession by the King of Spain to the German Welser banking family, as Klein-Venedig.

Venezuelan peso

The peso (local name peso fuerte) was a currency of Venezuela until 1874.

Venezuelan real

The real (plural: reales) was the currency of Venezuela until 1843.

Viceroyalty of New Granada

The Viceroyalty of New Granada (Spanish: Virreinato de Nueva Granada [birei̯ˈnato ðe ˈnweβa ɣɾaˈnaða]) was the name given on 27 May 1717, to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire in northern South America, corresponding to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739, and the provinces of Venezuela were separated from the Viceroyalty and assigned to the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777. In addition to these core areas, the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada included Guyana, southwestern Suriname, parts of northwestern Brazil, and northern Peru.

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