Coins of Panama

Panama was a port city founded on August 15th, 1519.
A mint was established there in 1580 which operated very briefly.

Click on the pix for a picture showing obverse & reverse

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1904 mint set
2&1/2 - 50 centesimos

(Karl Stephens)

Panama's 1st coinage type: the 1904 series. These were issued 1904, 1905, and 1916.

All of these coins are twice the weight in silver as the US counterpart of their denomination. There are a number of theories on why this is.

Supposedly many of the 1916 5c coins were thrown into Panama Bay by vending machine operators. They kept getting them in their machines in place of US dimes which were the same size & weight.

A neat Panamanian coin website
A history behind the 1904 series, orignally from but which is no longer on-line.

I read that the USA (who designed Panama's 1st coinage) did this so that Panama could not export it's silver coinage to the USA at a 1:1 exchange rate.

Another account states that at the turn of the 20th century silver was very low in value. When these coins were struck, they were issued for the native Panamanian workers on the Canal since the USA employees were paid in gold. The Panamanian govt, having some pride in the coinage decided to put an increased weight of silver into them.

1931 1 Balboa (dollar)

This is the 1930 series. The 1931 Balboas are harder to find nice than the 1934 or later dates. I bought this specimen in Panama City in 2006.

Notice how "V" is substituted for "U" in the spelling. This feature is also found on the USA silver "Peace" dollars of that era.

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