By Historical and Numismatic Museum "Héctor Carlos Janson" of the Central Bank of Argentina
Historical and Numismatic Museum "Héctor Carlos Janson" of the Central Bank of Argentina
The revolutionaries created an army with the aim of expelling the Spanish settled in the territory and secure liberation for the different regions that made up the old Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata. One of them, called Alto Perú (now Bolivia), was a strategic territory due to the silver mines located in Potosí. The Mint, founded by the Spanish in this city, had issued silver and gold coins for over two hundred years. Such wealth was crucial to finance the revolution and economic development of the “United Provinces of Río de la Plata”. Once the War of Independence began, the patriot army occupied Potosí three times: 1810, 1813 and 1815.
patriotic mints from 1813
In 1813, after the victories of Tucumán and Salta, a new scenery opened up with the entry of the Northern Army, commanded by General Manuel Belgrano, to Potosí. On April 13th the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813 enacted legislation for minting the First Patriotic Coins. The goal was to replace the coins issued by the Spanish Kingdom for new issues to substitute the Hispanic emblems with designs considered symbols of the revolution.
The first patriotic coins were called “escudos” minted in gold and “reales” minted in silver. They kept the same weight, value and purity of metal of the Spanish monetary system.
The first issue was short because after the battles of Vilcapugio and Ayohúma the revolutionaries were forced into retreat.
First Patriotic Coin (1813) by Mint of PotosíHistorical and Numismatic Museum "Héctor Carlos Janson" of the Central Bank of Argentina
Design of the first coins
The designs on the obverse included a radiant sun with eyes, nose and mouth with the legend “Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata”. The sun represents the god Inti, the highest Incan deity. Certainly, its inclusion reflects the assertion of all our cultural roots.
The reverse depicts the seal of the Constitutional General Assembly of the Year 1813, which would be later our national coat of arms design by the engraver and silversmith Juan de Dios Rivera from Potosí. It also includes the notably French influenced legend “En Unión y Libertad”.
mints from 1815
In 1815, the army commanded by General José Rondeau recovered Potosí, renewing the patriotic issues that continued to be minted with the same designs.
On this occasion, only silver pieces called “reales” were issued, later the denomination was changed to “soles”. After the defeat in the battle of Sipe-Sipe, Rondeau was forced to leave the city. This time the loss of Potosí would be permanent.
pieces, the price of difference
The highest officials of the Mint had retreated with the Spanish army, consequently, it was necessary to resort to unexperienced operators. Therefore, the variety in the design details and specially the minting errors, particularly on the legends, where you can find words that haven’t been spaced properly, spelling mistakes, overlaps or omission of letters. Likewise, the patriotic coin production was minted with dies whose engravings were made in a short time, which was the consequence of these inaccuracies.
First Patriotic Coin (1813) by Counterfeit of unknown origin.Historical and Numismatic Museum "Héctor Carlos Janson" of the Central Bank of Argentina
Coins from Potosí were counterfeited ever since the first mints of the
viceroyalty. Patriotic coins were not the exception. In this context, there
were period counterfeits, such as the coin of 8 “escudos” minted in gold.
Likewise, we can see a counterfeit of 8 “reales” from 1813 in which the
word "PROVINCIAS" is misspelt with letter "B".
2 “escudos” coin from 1813
The 2 “escudos” gold coin from 1813 is the most valuable and important piece of the collection donated by the numismatic Héctor Carlos Janson. It has now become part of our country’s heritage.
Just like all the other gold pieces, it was minted in the Mint of Potosí after General Manuel Belgrano entered the city.
There are only two pieces known with this value. The other one is owned by the Museum of “Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires”.
The Museum "Héctor C. Janson" of the Central Bank of Argentina invites you to learn about Argentine history through its banknotes and coins from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 216, San Martín St., Buenos Aires, Argentina.
For more information, please visit our website.