Spanish Silver Dollar, 1821

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Description (Brief)
One (1) 8 real coin
Mexico, 1821
Obverse Image: Portrait of Ferdinand VII.
Obverse Text: DEL GRATIA / 1821 / FERDIN VII
Reverse Image: Two (2) pillars with shield and crown. Images of lions and castles are on the shield.
Reverse Text: HISPAN / ET / IND / G / 8R / F / S
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.
date made
Ferdinand VII King of Spain
issuing authority
Guadalajara Mint
place of issue
Physical Description
silver (overall metal)
0 (overall die axis)
0 (overall die axis measurement)
struck (overall production method)
overall: .2 cm x 4 cm; 3/32 in x 1 9/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
U.S. Department of the Treasury. Bureau of the Mint
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Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
American Enterprise
Coins, Currency and Medals
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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