Coins of Peru

Spanish Colonial Peru (ViceRoyalty of Lima, 1568 - 1824)

Early Independent Peru (1822 - 1857)

The background image is a map of Independent Peru drawn in 1822.

From the David Rumsey historical map collection.

Testing of p classes to replace font.

rev 05/22/2023

Latin America Map
Peru Page 2
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Colonial Peru 1568 - 1826

The mint of Lima was the first South American mint and began striking coins in 1568. The 1st Assayer: Alonso de Rincon struck all silver denominations (1/4 - 8 reales) from 1568 - 1570. Colonial coinage concluded for almost all denominations in 1824, however, some 2 reales were struck in 1826 before the final Spanish surrender on Jan 22nd, 1826.

Spanish King Charles III
8 Reales 1782, Lima mint
NGC ms-63 (uncirculated)

Charles III.

Colonial Peru
8R, 1808,  almost uncirculated


Charles IV abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand VII in 1808. Normally a transitional portrait would be used on the coinage: e.g. the portrait of the old King but with the titles of the new King, at least until the countries could discover what the new King looked like. See the Mexico_1R_1809 for an example.

The Regency of Peru, however, decided to place a fanatsy portrait of what appears to me to be a Peruvian Indian on their coinage with the title of Ferdinand VII. A different Peruvian Indian was used in 1809 & 1810.

Independent Peru

Coins were issued during the wars of Independence

Peru has a very diverse numismatic legacy. Possessing silver mines it was re-invaded by the Spanish after proclaiming independence and striking it's own coins. Early coinage, although beautiful (1826-28 series), was simplistic: inviting counterfeiting. During 1836-39 Peru was part of the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation. This permitted an infestation of low-silver content Bolivian coinage (moneda feble) to drive out all the good currency in Peru. Peru's southern mints were also attacked during wars depriving them of specie from which to make coinage.

Numismatically collectors avoid the coinage of Republican Peru. One prominant dealer told me that it's only collected as an adjunct by Colonial Collectors as "post-colonial pieces". Another guess is that during major auctions, Peru comes up alphabetically at the end of the auction; often past midnight. Since I'm a night owl anyway, I've gotten more than my share of neat coinage.

This hasn't discouraged the 8 reale cobs of 1568 - 1569 bringing very good prices. These were historically the 1st 8 reals struck in the New World until the discovery of more of the 1538 Mexican 8 reales.

To learn more here are a set of books: "The Coins of Independent Peru" by Horace P. Flatt, vols 1-6

1/8 Real  1823  restrike
(Karl Stephens, ca. Nov. 2004)

This copper coin (the size of a current US 1 cent) was officially restruck by the Peruvian Government on 1921 using original dies to celebrate the century of Independence.


8 Reals   1822
(photo from Goldberg's Auctions)

This is the first type of Peruvian Republican coin, issued in 1822 & 1823 and is known as The Peso of San Martin.

The link to Goldberg's "Milennia Collection" which featured a number of amazing Peruvian {& other Latin American} coins is here. Millennia Auction

Note that the Goldberg's page is http and not https, so you may get a security warning.

8 Escudos  1826  Cuzco mint,
uncirculated, NGC-62
Eliasberg, April 18-19, 2005, lot 3528
Heritage, Aug 3rd 2017, lot 30424
photo by Heritage

The 1st gold 8 escudos or onzo of Independent Peru   Finest known specimen.

I actually looked at this piece in person back at the Eliasberg sale in NY in '05'. I didn't get it as I was too inexperienced in Latin America at the time.

Then when I saw it at Heritage in 2017 I was able to buy it. No hairlines, no friction {wear}, however the planchlet on the reverse is a little rough as made. No laminations.

Listing of this coin at Wiki Coin Facts with photo. Well, it USED to be here...

Peruvian mint records are very sketchy around this time period and we don't have the actual number struck. According to a Peruvian specialist, Peru's 1st gold coins were the Lima 1826 half and one escudos. Lima had issued Standing Athene silver coins since 1825, and based on investigations made by Horace Flatt, Cuzco had the dies ready by September, 1826. Thus the Cuzco gold coins were struck from Sept. 1826 or thereafter.

--thanks to victor for information on the early coinage of peru.

8R  1826  Lima mint, 1st Standing Athene
choice uncirculated
(Don Canaparo, at the 2001 NYI)

I think there are 3 main types of the silver Peruvian Standing Athene coins with major varieties within each type.

The 1st, or Small Standing Athene was issued 1826 - 1828 for the Lima mint.

Note that the Standing Athene here has no hair as it is completely covered by her cap.

Peru's early coinage depicted the Greek goddess Pallina Athena, patron goddess of wisdom, mathematics, strategy, heroic endeavor,& etc.

8R  1828  Lima mint, 2nd or Classical Standing Athene
uncirculated NGC-62
(Heritage, Jan 13, 2016 NYICS Auction lot# 34768)

This is the earliest of the 2nd or Classical type.

col 3 end 1828 LM


8R  1829  Cuzco mint, 1st Standing Athene frosty uncirculated
(James Elmen:
World-Wide Coin Auction, May 2009)

Although Lima discontinued the Early or Small Standing Athene in March 1828, replacing it with the larger Peruvian Standing Athene, Cuzco maintained the design for one more year.

Apparently the Cuzco engraver decided to embellish the design somewhat by giving the Athene hair which is plainly visable here. This trend of Cuzco & Lima having different designs continued well into the next type, the 2nd or Classical Athene.

This coin is apparently not from the Arequipa hoard as those pieces were obviously cleaned.

This coin is actually quite high grade but would probably slab only at the 63 level as the planchlet has numerous small flaws which the grading services detract for.


8 R 1833 2nd Standing Athene
I bought this at the New York International in 2000

The 2nd, or "Classical Standing Athene" appears to be the most common. Although mintage declined after 1828 (the 1st year of this sub-type) due to boiler explosion at the mint, it increased after 1830 with 1833 being the peak year [unfortunately].

col3 end 1833

Republic of South Peru

Seal of the State of South Peru
Estados Sud Peruano

The State was declared on March 18th, 1836 when the 4 Southern Departments broke away and formed their own state.

South Peru, Arequipa mint
2 Reales 1838 NGC-62

A degree of South Peru was that all silver coins have a fineness of 10 dineros 20 granos. There were 12 dineros for pure silver, each dinero being divided into 24 granos. Hence these coins should be (10 + 20/24)/12 or .902778 {.903} pure silver by law. In practice the minor coins, such as this 4 reales & lower, were struck to 8 dineros fineness. This is 8/12 or .666 fine. These coins circulated without difficulty in Southern Peru although merchants began paying a premium of 30% for coins of full fineness (.903). This caused the good silver coins to leave Peru.


South Peru, Cuzco mint
8 Reales 1838 NGC-63
Dan Sedwick Auction, Oct 26th, 2012

The crowns [8 reales] were always struck in the full legal fineness (at least in Peru). This piece is thus 10 dineros, 20 granos or .9027 fine silver.

(there were 67 reales to the mark) .9305 fine?,


Republic of North Peru

Seal of the State of North Peru
Estados Sud Peruano

The State was declared on 11 August, 1836.
The Seal listed for the Republic of Northern Peru during the War of the Confederation appears to be the same as that of Peru. I doubt they are the same, so until wiki gets clarified, I'll omit it.

Republic of Northern Peru
8R, 1837,  uncirculated

(World Wide Coins auction, Dec 2003)
North Peru was broken away from the rest by Bolivar

Republic of Peru - ReUnified

Seal of Peru
drawn by Guillermo Romero of Peru, Wikipedia user id: Huhsunqu

The country was reunited in 1839.

Peru, Arequipa
4 Reals, 1839, NGC-58

Lissner Collection

This issuance of Arequipa is extremely well-struck and historical. More will be presently coming about this subject.

"In 1839,.. 1,965 marks (wt=?) of silver 8 dineros fine were minted"

8 dineros = 8/12 = .666 fine, however, this coin appears to be good silver. It appears that the problem with the moneda feble was not just limited to the issuance of .666 fine coins.

p format, no class

"The city of Arequipa rose in rebellion against the Confederation (The forced Bolivian-Peruvian Confederation) on 20 Februarey 1839"
Flatt vol4, p 108.

The situation in the South of Peru was extremely unstable at this time.

P format, no class

Find out somehow "What was the Arequipa hoard?"

8 Escudos 1840 Standing Liberty
uncirculated (NGC-62)

Goldberg's Millennium Auction, Los Angles, CA; May 26,2008, lot# 1192

A mirror like or proof like finish appears characteristic of all Cuzco gold.
Finally after much waiting I was able to obtain a nice mint state Athene Standing 8E at a very reasonable price.

The assayer's initial appears on the reverse: an "A" for Andres Pinto.

cmd to open link in a new window

p.grey format, grey class

Goldberg's Millenium Auction on Peru

P.grey format, grey class

8 Reals 1841 Standing Athena
uncirculated (NGC-62)

Lissner collection

This is the last year of the Classic Style on the 8 Reales & was made in 1840 and 1841. You will note that, unlike the earlier 8 Reals (Pesos), it now has the finess stated on the reverse.
10 D, 20 Gr = (10 + 20/24) /12 = .902777 or ~ .903. format, blue class format, blue class

Gold 1 Escudo

one is being sought
I used to have a nice 1850 1 escudo but sold it to a Peruvian collector after being harrased for 3 years to sell it.

Now I need to find another Peruvian gold 1 Escudo.


Gold 2 Escudos 1854
pcgs-63 (uncirculated)
(Heritage Long Beach Auction:  Sept, 2011)
(ex Eliasberg sale, 2005)
Unlike earlier issues (? F.C.), the 1854 2 escudos is always softly struck as is the case here. Like most of the minor gold this issue was struck at Lima (M mintmark rev) instead of Cuzco. Cuzco was much more conviently located for shipping gold bullion to which is why the vast majority of larger gold coins were struck there. That the minors were struck at Lima is indicative that they were produced in small enough quantities that the difficulty of sending gold there did not matter. This coin has a straight (albeit irregular) reeded edge.

This is the third time I attempted to buy this same coin. The 1st time was when I saw it in person at the Eliasberg (Foreign coin) Auction put on by Stack's/ American Numismatic Rarities (i.e.Bowers & Merena) in 2005. I didn't bid seriously as I was mainly interested in the 8 escudos of Peru which went for ridiculous sums. The 2nd time was in Spring, 2010 where this coin appeared just after the gold 1850 1 Escudo but I was unsucessful despite a reasonably stiff bid. The coin reappeared the next year at Heritage's Long Beach sale and was the only lot I succeeded in getting out of the entire auction! I got it for exactly 75% of my 2010 bid. I guess the previous owner was getting tired of sitting on this Peruvian gold which frankly nobody else in the world, except for me, is interested in buying.

2 Reales 1856
uncirculated NGC-62
(Sedwick auction:  Oct. 2012, lot #1632)
(photo by Sedwick auctions)

This is the last year the Standing Athena design was struck for the 2 reales and almost the last year of the Standing Athena type (aside from a few patterns).

I am also seeking any silver specimens from the Southern mints of Cuzco, Pasco, and Arequipa.

col3 4R-1854

4 Reales 1854
choice uncirculated
(Heritage auction:  Jan. 2004)
This is another 2nd, or "Classical" Standing Maiden even though it was made quite late for the type, e.g. the 1850's. However this one has ornate drapery.

I am also seeking any silver specimens from the Southern mints (Cuzco, Pasco, Arequipa) to illustrate the diversity further.

col3 4R-1854

4 Escudos 1855 Lima MB
choice uncirculated
(Heritage Signature World Coin auction
Jan. 7th, 2008)
photo cortesy of Heritage Auctions

This is a very nice choice uncirculated 4 escudos from the Limae mint bought at a reasonable price. After I bought it, I discovered that it is the Krause plate coin as shown on page 473 of the Krause "Spain, Portugal, and the New World" Catalog

The Lima gold, even the 8 escudos, was struck with a frosty finish, not the P/L finish of Cuzco.

For some reason although Cuzco was the primary gold mint, all the 4 escudos, and virtually all of the minor gold (save for a brief issue of 1 escudos), were made at Lima.

I believe this was the last year the Athene design was issued in gold.

Peso of Castilla 8 Reales, 1846, almost uncirculated
(Harlan J. Berk, 2007)

This is the 3rd type of Standing Athene silver: the Peso of Castilla. These coins were named after the treasury minister: Ramon Castilla who later became a famous President of early Peru

The 1851 8R's appear to be the most common date of these. There was a good sized issuance in 1841 which was exported to Europe and melted except for one or two? surviving specimens.

During the 1840's and 1850's there were a lot of problems in making good metal blanks for minting. Thus many of these pieces exhibit metal problems and a number have been harshly cleaned over the years. I've seen many 1851's in unacceptable condition but even though this 1846 appears to have been struck on a poorly prepared metal blank, it was in decent condition and doesn't appear to have been cleaned harshly as most of them were.

It was also reasonably priced: only $75.

I was always very interested in getting a nicer specimen of this type as at this time the 1846 was my only latter Peru specimen.

Peso of Castilla 8 Reales, 1847, uncirculated (PCGS-63)
Heritage auction, May 1st, 2012, lot# 27974
photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions
Even though this specimen is very well preserved you can see that there were still manufacturing problems. In fact the coin surfaces are very clean and the only reason why it was even graded as low as 63 was [I believe] due to the quality of the strike. Although Krause lists this as a better date, I've seen a number of other 1847's so I'm not so sure.

Perhaps to compensate for the good deal I got on the 1846, I paid a ridiculously high price for this one. However somebody has to collect the unpopular coins of Peru...

Peso of Castilla 8 Reales, 1855, uncirculated (PCGS-62)
Heritage auction,
photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions
For some reason I can't resist buying these in uncirculated when I see them. This one is semi-P/L. Even Heritage said it's a rare typein unc in the listing. However being Peru, nobody else bid on it and I got it for a cheap amount again.

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