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A History of the Coins and Numismatics of Puerto Rico

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This page will be dedicated to the study of the history of coins in Puerto Rico during the Spanish period. From 1493 to 1898 Puerto Rico was part of Spain. In 1898 there was a change in government as the United States took control of the Island during the Spanish American War.

The articles presented here were first published in a magazine from The Museum and The Center for Humanistics Studies at Turabo University in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. For more information you can send e-mail to

A brief chronology of the history of coins in Puerto Rico.

1492-The moment that the precolumbian era ends as Christopher Columbus discovered America.

november 19, 1493- discovery of Puerto Rico during the second voyage of Columbus. The prevailing system of economic exchange was through barter.

1508-The beginning of the conquest and colonization of the island.Some of the first gold and silver coins arrived to P.R. The spanish people started a system of labor division, using the indians as laborers in the the search for gold.

1586-The beginning of "El Situado Mexicano". It was money sent by royal decree, to pay for the construction of forts in the island of Puerto Rico, to pay the soldiers established here and other expenses of the government. This transfer of money lasted for 223 years.

1766-The first notice of paper money made in the island. They were pieces of paper called "tengos"

1809-The end of the money that came from Mexico to the island (Situado).

1813-16 Arrives in Puerto Rico Alejandro Ramirez. He mades a reform in the fiscal programs of the government.

1813-Emission of the "Billete del Cordero" (Bill of the Lamb) of eight "reales"

1815-Emission of bills of five and three "pesos" commisioned to the Murray,Draper,Fairman&Co. of Philadelphia (predecessor of the prestigious firm American Bank Note.Co.)

1815-The "Intendente" Ramirez authorizes the introduction and use of the "macuquina" (makukeenah) coin to alleviate the lack of local coins. Coined without border, the "macuquina" could be easily mutilated. This made it lose value because it lost the part of its content of silver. The macuquina coin circulated for forty two (42) years.

1850-Starts the use of small tin disks by planters to pay the workers for their job in the plantations. They were called "riles' and "vales". It's use lasted until the 1930's.

1857- the "macuquina" coin is no longer used. Search: Out of Print Search Page