Every coin brings along with itself a small and particular piece of history. Coins have been exceptional witnesses, means of expression, vehicles of ideologies of each one of the episodes that form the history of a country, constituting a valuable and priced treasure, of much greater value than the motif stamped on the reverse.
On October 19, 1868, the peseta came into being as the monetary unit by virtue of a decree passed by the Provisional Government after Isabel II was overthrown. This Government decided to centralize the entire currency production in the old Madrid Mint, the beginning of what is today the FNMT-RCM. Since then the Fábrica has minted each and every one of the peseta coins that have circulated up until the advent of the Euro.
Each peseta encloses within its tiny proportions the history, the politics, the religion, the economy and the art of the instant in which it was minted. The peseta houses 134 years of concentrated Spanish history.
The choosing of the name was mainly due to its familiarity of use. Some denominations such as "maravedi", "real", "escudo", etc. got buried under the term peseta, commonly used during the reign of Isabel II. It also seems that in Catalonia pesetas had circulated since before the War of Independence.
On one side
The first coin minted in 1869 was the unit. It came into being bearing the legend "Gobierno Provisional" on the obverse, instead of "Spain", which text would show on the subsequent mintings and on the silver coins. The motif chosen was the personification of Hispania resting on the Pyrennees inspired by the coins of the Emperor Hadrian. The bronze coin, on the other hand, represented Spain as a matronly figure sitting on the rocks. Both were magnificently engraved by Luis Marchionni, who, from 1861 held the position of principal engraver to the Casa de la Moneda (the Royal Madrid Mint).
And on the other
The reverse of the silver coin bore the Spanish coat-of-arms. The bronze portrayed the figure of a rampant lion holding aloft this coat-of-arms. This image gave rise to the popular denomination of "perra gorda" (ten-centime piece) or "perra chica" (five-centime piece), since people saw a dog where there was supposed to be a lion. After an international competition, three different sketches were extracted that served as inspiration for the definitive model by Luis Marchionni.
Throughout the lifetime of the peseta as a monetary system, the design has evolved marked by the impressions of each moment and in very different directions.
From the start
In accordance with what was established in 1869 the Spanish national coat-of-arms is kept for the reverse, modifications being added over time. On the obverses the presence of Hispania was replaced by the royal effigy.
The Second Republic marked a break in the typology, as motifs were introduced of a republican inspiration in keeping with the status of the new government. On occasions the models were issued in a poorly finished condition due to the pressing need to get them minted.
The coming to power of General Franco involved a turning point in this respect, with the introduction of a portrait modeled in 1947 by Benlliure and adapted by Manuel Marín. The portrait of the mature Franco is by Juan de Avalos.
To the present day
Under the democracy the sizes and values were adhered to while bringing in the likeness of King Juan Carlos I in addition to the Royal Coat-of-arms. However, since 1990 the types were renovated every year in the pursuit of a commemorative intention that put an end to the exclusively monarchical tradition and gave way to cultural, artistic or local motifs.
The fourteen values originally anticipated would not materialize until the reign of Alfonso XIII, when the precious metals were replaced by new metals and alloys, causing the loss of parity between the intrinsic and the nominal values. Even so, the mintings in gold were maintained until 1904 and those in silver to 1933. The latter gave way to the yellow Peseta made of brass and popularly known as "la rubia" (the blonde one). From that moment on the mintings have been based on copper, aluminum and nickel, and the designs have combined all kinds of alloys and sizes.
In parallel, and for purely economic reasons that add interest for collectors, collector coins continue to be minted in previous metals. The symbolic act of the last minting of the 100-peseta coin constitutes the end of the history of the peseta, its comings and goings, the heads and the tails of the beloved coin.
History: Learn more
The life of a coin is linked to the history of its country and to the events during the time of its circulation. The peseta, the last circulating coinage in Spain before the European single monetary system was implemented, came into being in 1868 during the reign of Isabel II. It was in circulation for over a hundred years during which time it became steeped in Spanish history.
The farewell given to the peseta was set in motion with the minting of two coins: one, the coin most widely used on a daily basis, the 100 peseta coin, and the other the traditional silver commemorative, that of 2000 pesetas. Both reproduce the image of Hispania that was depicted on the first issue of pesetas in 1869.
A final farewell, a lasting tribute that the Ministry of the Economy, the General Directorate of the Treasury, the Bank of Spain and the Spanish Royal Mint itself wished to offer, in such a way as to put the last Spanish monetary unit within reach of all. It consists of a unique edition constituting of a piece of history that is available through the FNMT-RCM.
With the minting of what was the last 100 Peseta coin on June 19, 2001 the issue of the peseta was finalized and the plates and dies became museum pieces for the reminiscence of future generations. Subsequently, on March 1, 2002, the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre - Spanish Royal Mint (FNMT-RCM) inaugurated a new period in its history of minting, making it possible for Spanish citizens to live on a daily basis with the Euro.
History in stamping
The arrival of the Euro put an end to part of the history of paper money, the era of the peseta, centuries of legend written and stamped on the banknotes throughout innumerable chapters in the history of Spain.
The first issue of paper money in pesetas was made in July 1874 coinciding with the concession granted to the Bank of Spain for the sole right to issue banknotes. Once this first step had been taken, the volume of banknotes would grow unceasingly as a reflection of the economic growth of the country. Except for the Civil War period, marked by problems of shortages and the emergence of every kind of means of payment, banknote issues have kept up a steady growth rate in keeping with the economy of the country. The banknote has come to form part of the daily life of Spain's general public, and is looked upon as a mark of national identity.
The first issue, printed by the FNMT-RCM, was on October 21, 1940. Until that time the workshops of the Bank of Spain and different British, American and German companies had been entrusted with the manufacture of Spain's paper money.
Since 1941 the FNMT-RCM has exercised its sole right to manufacture Spanish paper currency. Since January 2002 the future of the FNMT-RCM is taking shape within a framework of close collaboration between the corporation and the European Central Bank in addition to other European manufacturers.
Technique and security
Historically, intaglio printing has been the most difficult to forge. This technique is used to print the main vignette and the ornamental borders. The remaining parts of the banknote are letterpress and offset printed. The methods used for reproducing the original engraving have been perfected over the years, but the figure of the engraver continues to be crucial.
Other elements such as the watermark, inks, fibres, threads and filaments are added to reinforce the security of the banknote.
Each banknote was designed with the intention of paying tribute to a significant event, a celebrity, or a magnificent work of art. From monarchs, painters, writers and scientists, to monuments, literary passages, or events such as the Discovery of America have had their place on the obverses and reverses of banknotes, a true reflection of the feeling, the culture and the artistic expression of the country.