The PNNA Memorabilia Catalog

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by Greg Franck-Weiby

The design of this type is adapted from what is usually called the "Pillar" type, although, as illustrated by the 2004 PNNA convention medal, there were other Spanish colonial types more accurately called 'pillar' types.   Spanish speaking numismatists call this type 'dos mundos' or 'two worlds', as the two globes represent the Old World and the New World (both under the Spanish Crown). The pillars have 'plus' and 'ultra' on ribbons wrapped around them; there is commonly repeated speculation that a quick sketch of a pillar with its ribbon - as a readily recognized reference to the high quality machine struck Spanish colonial coinage - was the origin of the $ dollar sign.

The design was used on all silver denominations, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, and 8 reales or 'royals'. The latter denomination (the 'piece of eight') was what the British North American colonists called the 'Spanish Milled Dollar' that was adopted by the United States for our dollar unit. The type was introduced at Mexico City in 1732, and eventually struck at half a dozen Spanish colonial mints until replaced by the royal portrait type in 1772. The PNNA medal is closest to the size of the one real denomination.

These were the most common silver coins (of what little silver coinage was available to the British North American colonists) in circulation at the time of the American War of Independence. The ones most commonly encountered by the colonists were from Mexico City, followed by those of Lima, Peru, and Potosi, Upper Peru (later Bolivia). Much less common were coins of Guatemala City, Nueva Reina - Santa Fe de Bogota (in New Granada, later Colombia), and Santiago (Chile).

On the shield, in addition to the usual lions, castles and pomegranate, there is an additional small shield in the middle of the larger one; the three fleurs de lis on the smaller shield represent the French Royal House of Bourbon (Borbon in Spanish), the successors to the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty in Spain (Philip V, in whose reign the dos mundos type was introduced, was a great-nephew of French King Louis XIV). The foremost of the two globes represents the New World, most of which was Spanish territory. However, within the outline of South America, there is a line showing the boundary of Brazil, which was Portuguese territory. On the PNNA medals, that border line being clearly struck up is the diagnostic feature of a full strike. (Only the pewter pieces were struck on the small screw press; the silver, copper, and gold strikes in the collector sets were struck, as with several of these medal types, on a 20 ton hydraulic press.)