The First Coins of the Argentine Provinces

An attempt to illustrate the early types of Argentine coins with notes about their history

Argentina or rather the provice of Buenos Aires declared freedom from the Spanish Viceroyalty in May, 1810. When the congress emerged from the building in which they deliberated independence, a brilliant sun emerged from behind the clouds. Thus the Sunface became a central theme of the Argentinean flag & coins.

Although Spanish forces recaptured the principal city in 1814?, revolutionary forces recaptured it in 1815, hence there are the 2 years of early sunfaces: 1813 & 1815. The liberator of Argentina is San Martin. Although for many years he was not lionized like Simon Bolivar, his reputation is improving with time. Supposedly he was not as self-aggrandizing as Bolivar and some people like him better.

click on the coin for a pix showing obverse & reverse
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Province Rio del la Plata
8 reales, 1813   (mint state)
(purchased in Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The 1st year and 1st type of the Sunface coin design. These were issued 1813 & 1815 and were struck in Buenos Aires.

If you ever have the chance to go to Argentina to look for coins, please do so. Buenos Aires seems a lot like Paris, with very ornate and fine cafes for breakfasts and lunch. It seems very much like a European capital city and has many bookstores.

Province Rio del la Plata
8 soles, 1815 S over R
World Wide Coins, 15 May, 2014, lot 261

These were issued 1813 & 1815 initially.

history notes

Province La Rioja
2 soles, 1826 PCGS-64
ex-Whitter collection, purchased Sept, 2011 from the Mexican Coin Co.

Though the obverse states "Provincias del Rio de la Plata" (Buenos Aires), the mint mark indicates this coin was made in the Province of La Rioja.

finess = .875 silver, 6.76 gr.

Province Rio del la Plata
8 reales, 1830,
uncirculated (NGC-63)
(G. Bellusco, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2005)

Fortunately Argentina resurrected the suface design for a 2nd issue of 1826 - 37. These sunfaces have wrinkles on the brow while on the reverse they have "RA" indicating that they were struck in the province of La Rioja instead of the Potosi minkmark used for the early Buenos Aires coins.
In high grades it has been said that they are harder to find.

finess = .875 silver, 26.06 gr.

Argentina was having a hard time making coins in 1830 (not much has changed to today?) The 1830 8 reals and 8 escudos are rarer dates of these. Possibly this is the finest known specimen.

Province Rio del la Plata
4 soles, 1832,    almost uncirculated

(Stephanie Hudson, NC, 2006)

This coin was issued as a "Soles" denomination while the 1830 is denominated in "Reales".

8 Reales, 1837 7/6
Province Rio del la Plata
See after the Rosas coins of La Rioja which are listed together.
see following

Juan Manuel Rosas
dictator of Argentina
Province of La Rioja
silver 8 Soles, 1836
Stack's New York International Auction, Jan 10th, 2011, lot 1400
(photo coutesy of Stack's Auctions)

Portrait coins of Rosas were issued in 1836 (silver 8 soles and gold 8 scudos) and also in 1842 (gold 2 and 8 scudos and silver 2 soles).

Of these the 1842 smaller denominations are by far the most common, with the larger crown sized pieces existing only in a handful, possibly under 10 specimens of each.

Additionally non-portrait coins in silver and gold were struck and one is depicted here

This coin is known as a trial strike for the extremely rare 1836 gold 8 Escudos. However, in silver, it is at least equally rare with an estimated population of perhaps 5 or 6 existing in all grades. Furthermore it is denominated 8S which could stand for 8 Soles as well as 8 eScudos.

It was slabbed "NGC AU Details" as it was cleaned and possibly lightly polished. It also apparently was a semi P/L strike (in my opinion) so perhaps the surfaces are more natural than the graders thought. I examined this specimen and the Millenium piece  in person and felt that this specimen was superior. Also I thought the finish on the Millenium specimen was a bit unnatural. Thus I was prepared for a bid 25% above the Millenium price and didn't bid on any of the other Porteno collection before this came up. However, other bidders were very discouraged by the slab grade of just "Details" and this piece went fairly cheaply.

Rosas became "governor" of Buenos Aires (the capital & main city /province of Argentina) in 1829 following the official surrender of the city to him. After he became entrenched in power he had his generals under him executed so as not to pose a threat to his rule. In this he was like Hitler, who purged the brown shirts after they put him in power.

He was forced to leave the country in 1852.

Much of the information on Rosas was taken from "Tales And Adventures In The Argentine Republic: With The History Of The Country, And An Account Of Its Condition, Before And During The Administration Of Governor Rosas", Col. John King, c. 1852.

Province LaRoija
8 reales, 1840,   

World Wide Coins, 15 May, 2014, lot 261

Known as the "Unitarian coin" also as the Rebel Peso. These are also a little scarce with an estimated population of about 20 pieces. It is the natural companion to the Rosas piece.

I need to research historical notes here.

Province La Rioja
Juan Manuel Rosas
2 Reales, 1842, almost uncirculated
(Dan Sedwick Auctions, Oct 26, 2012)
(photo by Sedwick Auctions)

This is the older more mature bust of Rosas which was issued only in 1842. These were struck in 8 escudos, in 2 escudos, and in these lowly 2 reales.

At this time the "War of the Confederation" was fought between an alliance of Argentina & Chile vs. Peru & Bolivia, these last 2 supported by Britain & France. The Wikipaedia article on this is not clear at all and further research on the history of this era is needed.


Argentina Province Rio de la Plata,
8 reals, 1837/6 RA, AU-55

Stack's Auction, The January 2018 NYINC Auction, Jan 16th lot# 20013

Last big "Sunface" 8 issued.
This coin was issued as a "Reals" denomination.

Stack's description: KM-20; CJ-38. VERY SCARCE overdate (unlisted in KM) and the sole finest certified example at NGC. Weakly struck in the centers, just a light veneer of tone and soft satin luster.

ex Alex Siegel collection.

Province La Rioja
2 reales, 1843 PCGS-62
purchased Sept, 2011 from the Mexican Coin Co.

Shown on the reverse is a view of Famatina Mountain: a source of silver.

This coin has Rosas' name on the reverse (he was still the holder of Public Power in Argentina) but no longer would his portrait be used on the coinage.

finess = .875 silver, 6.7 gr.

Province Cordoba
4 reales, 1847 PCGS-62
purchased Sept, 2011 from the Mexican Coin Co.

The Province of Cordoba is located in the center of the country, a little towards the North.

finess = .750 silver, 13.5 gr.

Province of Cordoba
8 reales, 1852 PCGS-63
Goldberg's Auction, Sept 25, 2013, lot 4092

Cordoba was always a Unitarian stronghold and was aligned against La Rioja and against the dictator Rosas. This is the only year this Castle design was struck on the 8 reales. That it was also the year, the enemy of Cordoba: the dictator Rosas, was forced to abdicate leads me to believe this piece was struck as a commemorative.

finess = 9 denario or 9/12th fine = .750 silver, 27.0 grams.

Thus unlike many crowns of Latin America this coin was intended for circulation in Argentina and not as export specie.

Argentine Republic 2 Cents 1893 unc

(purchased in the old Coin section of Buenos Aires)

Argentine Republic Peso 1881
select - choice Unc

(Buenos Aires, Argentina)

This is the 1st year of issue of these and is suposedly really tough in high grade. When I bought it I was oblivious to the fact that it was a rare date but things were a lot easier when collecting Latin American coins "back then".


Argentine Republic 5 Pesos 1896
purchased in BA

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