Spanish Silver Dollar, 1821

This silver Spanish dollar (also known as an eight real coin or piece of eight) was minted around 1821. The obverse, or front, of the coin has a profile portrait of King Ferdinand the VII. The coin reads “Del Gratia 1821 Ferdin VII,” (Ferdinand VII by the Grace of God, 1821). The reverse has an image of Spain’s Pillars of Hercules lesser royal coat of arms. The reverse reads, “HISPAN ET IND REX Ga 8R FS” (King of the Spains and the Indies, Guadalajara, 8 reales). The initials “FS” belong to the coin’s assayer.
Spanish dollars were the monies of choice when coins were available in Colonial America, and Americans liked them so much that they eventually based their own U.S. dollar on the Spanish real. In early years reales were actually preferred to dollars because the coins contained more silver. There was even a scam to trade American dollars for reales in the West Indies, after which they would be returned to the United States and turned into the U.S. Mint for melting so as to make a profit by getting paid back in new dollars.
Object Name
Date made
Ferdinand VII King of Spain
issuing authority
Guadalajara Mint
Physical Description
silver (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: 26.738 g
Place Made
place of issue
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Coins, Currency and Medals
American Enterprise
See more items in
Armed Forces History: National Numismatic Collection
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
U.S. Department of the Treasury. Bureau of the Mint
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.