These lands have been more or less constantly
at war since the time of their first
declaration of independence from Spain in 1821.
The Republic of 1823-38 itself had
from the outset no political authority.
Its coinage would seem to have formed a
significant part of the circulating specie of
the region at the time of their issue. It is
undoubtedly true, however, that the major portion
of the coinage needs of Central
America in the early nineteenth century was satisfied
by the old colonial currency, with
most of the new additions to the money supply
coming from Mexico.
The CAR coinage consists only of silver
and gold. Mexican copper can be
assumed to have circulated to a degree.
Odd and curious buffs will occasionally include
in their collections a few (modern) cacao beans,
claiming them as petty currency in the
region. (The old story about 5 beans being
the price of the favors of a Nicaraguan belle
de nuit in the nineteenth century is, as far
as I can tell, just a story.)
CAR silver coins show up in the "casual"
numismatic market fairly frequently. I'd
rank them thusly: ¬ real is most common,
then 8 reales, 2 reales, 1 real, and « real. I
have seen small bags of the quarters within the
last decade. A typical hoard would
consist solely of "G" marked pieces in grades
ranging from aG to VF, several pieces
holed or otherwise damaged. I would assume
that the original hoard included a
substantial portion of Potosi and Mexico colonials,
removed and sold elsewhere.
Recently I've seen a few of these coins in XF
or better, and at ANA-Seattle I saw one or
two in splendid Unc. I do not know if the
high priced 1845 date is truly justified. I have
had one myself, purchased in a bag with the others.
The San Jose emission of the same
year is quite scarce.
On to the 8 real coins. It is my
general impression that there are a lot of these
around. I've only handled a few, but see
them all the time in cases and lists. These are
almost always weakly struck in the center of
the tree, so the whole rest of the coin can
look XF and just that part be almost flat.
What can you call a coin like that except
"F-VF?" I can't recall seeing any of these
in really worn conditions, though I have seen
them with bad scratches, holes, etc. I'd
think you could get a NG type in up to "aXF"
without too much trouble at more or less the
catalog quotes. The top grades, of course,
are rare, as also, once again, the San Jose pieces
2 real coins of Tegucigalpa exist, I have
had them, sold them for 50% over SCWC
quotes. Took about 6 months before people
started realizing how few there are around.
My three were VG-F, so I'll call that the "normal"
grade. The Guatemala coin I've never
seen personally, nor, of course, the San Jose
pieces of 1848-49.
I and « real coins I'm going to call
generally scarce to rare. I had an 1824-NG real
once in ungradeably bad crummy no good condition
and I still got $11.00 for it. I've
never had a «.
(Editorial opinion: I believe there
is a general undervaluing of elusive coins in
lower grades. Until say the sixties coinage
was made to be used and nobody cared about
rarity. They just spent the money.
A worn difficult coin is still difficult, it's scarcity still
worthy of some respect.)
I shouldn't say anything about the gold.
With my own eyes I have seen a nice CR
« escudo, and have of course seen the occasional
offer of some single piece here and
there. I believe I remember Dale Seppa
having a damaged piece in one of his mail bids a
few years back. I shouldn't say anything,
but I guess I will. I think the gold is very rare.
All of it.
The dream of a Central American Union did
not die with the breakup of the CAR
in 1838. Attempts to reconstitute the union
have continued to this day. The CAR
coinage continued after the demise of the nation
until 1851, it's types adapted thereafter
for the early issues of the constituent states.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century
some modest, though serious attempts at union
were in train, and among the relics of this
effort there exist some bronze patterns, struck
in Europe, for the proposed nation.
I think this is a great series. It's
grand and uplifting themes of the sun of liberty
rising smiling over the mountains and tree of
liberty springing from the earth get my vote
for best coin designs of all time.