Spanish dollar

Spanish dollar

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Spanish dollars


The Spanish dollar (also known as the piece of eight, the real de a ocho or the eight-real coin) is a silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight reales
Spanish real
The real was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced...

, that was minted in the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 after a Spanish currency reform in 1497. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

. In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, in the colony of New South Wales, Spanish dollars were sent by the British government, with holes punched out of the centers of the coins to create a new Australian Currency. It was the coin upon which the original United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 was based, and it remained legal tender
Legal tender
Legal tender is a medium of payment allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency is a common form of legal tender in many countries....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 until the Coinage Act of 1857
Coinage Act of 1857
The Coinage Act of 1857 was an act of the United States Congress which forbade the use of foreign coins as legal tender, repealing all acts "authorizing the currency of foreign gold or silver coins". Specific coins would be exchanged at the Treasury and recoined...

 discontinued the practice. Because it was widely used in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, and the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

, it became the first world currency
World currency
In the foreign exchange market and international finance, a world currency, supranational currency, or global currency refers to a currency in which the vast majority of international transactions take place and which serves as the world's primary reserve currency...

 by the late 18th century. Aside from the U.S. dollar, several other existing currencies, such as the Canadian dollar
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

 and the Chinese yuan
Chinese yuan
The yuan is the base unit of a number of modern Chinese currencies. The yuan is the primary unit of account of the Renminbi.A yuán is also known colloquially as a kuài . One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo or colloquially máo...

, as well as several currencies in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and the Philippine peso
Philippine peso
The peso is the currency of the Philippines. It is subdivided into 100 centavos . Before 1967, the language used on the banknotes and coins was English and so "peso" was the name used...

, were initially based on the Spanish dollar and other 8-reales coins.

The term peso
Peso
The word peso was the name of a coin that originated in Spain and became of immense importance internationally...

 was used in Spanish to refer to this denomination, and it became the basis for many of the currencies in the former Spanish colonies, including the Argentine
Argentine peso
The peso is the currency of Argentina, identified by the symbol $ preceding the amount in the same way as many countries using dollar currencies. It is subdivided into 100 centavos. Its ISO 4217 code is ARS...

, Bolivian
Bolivian peso
The peso boliviano , divided into 100 centavos, was the currency of Bolivia from January 1, 1963 until December 31, 1985. It replaced the boliviano at 1 peso boliviano = 1000 bolivianos...

, Chilean
Chilean peso
The peso is the currency of Chile. The current peso has circulated since 1975, with a previous version circulating between 1817 and 1960. The symbol used locally for it is $. The ISO 4217 code for the present peso is CLP. It is subdivided into 100 centavos, although no centavo denominated coins...

, Colombian
Colombian peso
The peso is the currency of Colombia. Its ISO 4217 code is COP and it is also informally abbreviated as COL$. However, the official peso symbol is $. As 20 July 2011, the exchange rate of the Colombian peso is 1750 Colombian pesos to 1 U.S. dollar.-History:The peso has been the currency of Colombia...

, Costa Rican
Costa Rican peso
The peso was the currency of Costa Rica between 1850 and 1896. It was initially subdivided into 8 reales and circulated alongside the earlier currency, the real, until 1864, when Costa Rica decimalized and the peso was subdivided into 100 centavos. The peso was replaced by the colón at par in...

, Cuban
Cuban peso
The peso is one of two official currencies in use in Cuba, the other being the convertible peso...

, Dominican
Dominican peso
The Dominican peso, also called peso oro is the currency of the Dominican Republic. Its symbol is "$", with "RD$" used when distinction from other pesos is required; its ISO 4217 code is "DOP". Each peso is divided into 100 centavos , for which the ¢ symbol is used...

, Ecuadorian
Ecuadorian peso
-History:Peso was the name of the 8 real coins circulating in Ecuador since the Spanish colonial period. In 1856, the currency was pegged to the French franc, with 1 peso = 5 francs. From 1862, paper money was issued denominated in reales and pesos. The peso was formally adopted as the currency of...

, Guatemalan
Guatemalan peso
-History:The peso replaced the Central American Republic real, with 1 peso = 8 reales. In 1869, the centavo was introduced, worth one hundredth of a peso, but the real continued to be produced until 1912, when Guatemala fully decimalized. In 1870, the peso was pegged to the French franc at a rate...

, Honduran
Honduran peso
The peso was the currency of Honduras between 1862 and 1931.-History:The peso replaced the real at a rate of 1 peso = 8 reales. Initially, the peso was subdivided into 8 reales. In 1871, the currency was decimalized, with the peso subdivided into 100 centavos...

, Mexican
Mexican peso
The peso is the currency of Mexico. Modern peso and dollar currencies have a common origin in the 15th–19th century Spanish dollar, most continuing to use its sign, "$". The Mexican peso is the 12th most traded currency in the world, the third most traded in the Americas, and by far the most...

, Nicaraguan
Nicaraguan peso
The peso was the currency of Nicaragua between 1878 and 1912. It was Nicaragua's first national currency, replacing the Central American Republic real and that of neighbouring states. It was subdivided into 100 centavos and was worth 8 reales...

, Paraguayan
Paraguayan peso
The peso was the currency of Paraguay between 1856 and 1944. It replaced the real at a rate of 8 reales = 1 peso. Until 1870, the peso was subdivided into 8 reales. Paraguay then decimalized, with 100 centesimos = 1 peso. The name of the subdivision was changed to centavo in 1874...

, Philippine
Philippine peso
The peso is the currency of the Philippines. It is subdivided into 100 centavos . Before 1967, the language used on the banknotes and coins was English and so "peso" was the name used...

, Puerto Rican, Peruvian
Peruvian real
The real was the currency of Peru until 1863. Sixteen silver reales equalled one gold escudo. The silver coin of 8 reales was also known as the peso.-History:...

, Salvadoran, Uruguayan
Uruguayan peso
Uruguayan peso has been a name of the Uruguayan currency since Uruguay's settlement by Europeans. The present currency, the peso uruguayo was adopted in 1993 and is subdivided into 100 centésimos.-Introduction:...

, and Venezuelan
Venezuelan peso
-History:Until 1821, the Spanish colonial real circulated in Venezuela. Between 1802 and 1821, the Caracas mint issued reales. In 1811, the United States of Venezuela was declared and issued paper money denominated in reales and pesos, with 8 reales = 1 peso. The Colombian real circulated in...

 pesos.

Etymology of dollar


In the 16th century, Count Hieronymus Schlick of Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 began minting coins known as Joachimsthalers (from German thal, or nowadays usually Tal, "valley", cognate with "dale
Dale
A dale is a valley. The word dale comes from Old English dael and is related to Old Norse dalr. Dale or dales may also refer to:-Places:*Dale .Australia*The Dales .Brazil...

" in English), named for Joachimsthal, the valley where the silver was mined (St. Joachim's Valley, now Jáchymov
Jáchymov
For other places called Joachimsthal, see Joachimsthal Jáchymov . compl: "Sant Joachim's Sthal" is a spa town in north-west Bohemia in the Czech Republic belonging to the Karlovy Vary Region. It is situated at an altitude of 733 m above sea level in the eponymous St...

; then part of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, now part of the Czech Republic). Joachimstaler was later shortened to taler, a word that eventually found its way into Norwegian, Danish and Swedish as daler, Czech as Tolar, Polish as talar, Dutch as daalder, Ethiopian as talari, Hungarian as tallér, Italian as tallero, Greek as taliro (τάληρο), Flemish as daelder, and English as dollar.

"The Joachimsthalers weighed 451 Troy grains of silver. So successful were these coins that similar thalers were minted in Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

, Holland, and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

; most successful of these was the Maria Theresa thaler
Maria Theresa thaler
The Maria Theresa thaler is a silver bullion-coin that has been used in world trade continuously. Maria Theresa Thalers were first minted in 1741, using the then Reichsthaler standard of 9 thalers to the Vienna mark. In 1750 the thaler was debased to 10 thalers to the Vienna Mark...

, which began being minted in 1751 and formed a considerable portion of American currency after that date."

English speakers began to apply the word "dollar" to the Spanish peso or "piece of eight" by 1581.

Spain


After the introduction of the Guldengroschen
Guldengroschen
The Guldengroschen was a large silver coin originally minted in Tirol in 1486.The Guldengroschen's name comes from the fact that it has an equivalent denomination value in silver relative to that of the goldgulden...

 in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 in 1486, the concept of a large silver coin with high purity (sometimes known as "specie" coinage) eventually spread throughout the rest of Europe. Monetary reform in Spain brought about the introduction of an 8-reales coin in 1497.

In the following centuries, and into the 19th century, the coin was minted with several different designs at various mints in Spain and in the new world
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

, having gained wide acceptance beyond Spain's borders. The main new world
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 mints for Spanish dollars were at Potosí
Potosí
Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal . and it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint, now the National Mint of Bolivia...

, Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, and Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, and silver dollars minted at these mints could be distinguished from the ones minted in Spain, by virtue of the Pillars of Hercules
Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar is the Rock of Gibraltar in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar...

 design on the reverse. In the 19th century, the coin's denomination was changed to 20 reales (based on 20 reales de vellón) and finally 2 escudos.

Spain's adoption of the peseta
Spanish peseta
The peseta was the currency of Spain between 1869 and 2002. Along with the French franc, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra .- Etymology :...

 and its joining the Latin Monetary Union
Latin Monetary Union
The Latin Monetary Union was a 19th century attempt to unify several European currencies, at a time when most circulating coins were still made of gold and silver...

 meant the effective end for the last vestiges of the Spanish dollar in Spain itself. However, the 5-pesetas coin was slightly smaller and lighter but was also of high purity (90%) silver.

In the 1990s, commemorative 2000-pesetas coins were minted, similar in size and weight to the 8 reales and also with high fineness.

Mexico


Following independence in 1821, Mexican coinage of silver reales and gold escudos followed that of Spanish lines until decimalization and the introduction of the peso. The Mexican 8-reales coin (eventually becoming a 1-peso coin) continued to be a popular international trading coin throughout the 19th century.

After 1918, the peso was reduced in size and fineness, with further reductions in the 1940s and 1950s. However, 2- (1921), 5- (1947) and 10- (1955) peso coins were minted during the same period, similar in size and fineness to the old peso.

Ireland and British colonies


The term cob, for a piece of eight or a Spanish-American dollar, was used in Ireland and the British colonies during the period when Spanish-American gold and silver coins were irregularly shaped and crudely struck.

Australia


When the colony of New South Wales was founded in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1788, it ran into the problem of a lack of coinage. Governor Lachlan Macquarie
Lachlan Macquarie
Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB , was a British military officer and colonial administrator. He served as the last autocratic Governor of New South Wales, Australia from 1810 to 1821 and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony...

 took the initiative of using £10,000 in Spanish dollars sent by the British government. To prohibit use outside of the colony, they simply punched out the centres of the coins. Both the central plug (known as the "dump") and rims were stamped with a sunburst. The punched centers passed as shillings and the outer rims as five-shilling pieces. The mutilated coins became the first official currency used in Australia.

United States


The Coinage Act of 1792 created the United States Mint
United States Mint
The United States Mint primarily produces circulating coinage for the United States to conduct its trade and commerce. The Mint was created by Congress with the Coinage Act of 1792, and placed within the Department of State...

, but the first U.S. dollars were not as popular as the Spanish dollars, which were heavier and were made of finer silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. Indeed:


By far the leading specie coin circulating in America was the Spanish silver dollar, defined as consisting of 387 grains of pure silver. The dollar was divided into "pieces of eight," or "bits," each consisting of one-eighth of a dollar. Spanish dollars came into the North American colonies through lucrative trade with the West Indies. The Spanish silver dollar had been the world's outstanding coin since the early 16th century, and was spread partially by dint of the vast silver output of the Spanish colonies in Latin America. More important, however, was that the Spanish dollar, from the 16th to the 19th century, was relatively the most stable and least debased coin in the Western world



An eight-real coin nominally weighed 550.209 Spanish grains, which is 423.900 troy/avoirdupois grain
Grain (measure)
A grain is a unit of measurement of mass that is nominally based upon the mass of a single seed of a cereal. From the Bronze Age into the Renaissance the average masses of wheat and barley grains were part of the legal definition of units of mass. However, there is no evidence of any country ever...

s (0.883125 troy ounces or 27.468 g), 0.93055 fine: so contained 0.821791 troy ounces (25.561 g) or 394.460 grains fine silver. Its weight and purity varied significantly between mints and over the centuries. In contrast, the Coinage Act of 1792 specified that the U.S. dollar would contain 371 4/16 grain (24.1 g) pure or 416 grain (27.0 g) standard silver. This specification was based on the average weight of a random selection of worn Spanish dollars which Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 caused to be weighed at the Treasury.

The coins had a nominal value of eight reales
Spanish real
The real was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced...

("royals").

Before the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, owing to British mercantilist
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

 policies, there was a chronic shortage of British currency in Britain's colonies. Trade was often conducted with Spanish dollars that had been obtained through illicit trade with the West Indies. Spanish coinage was legal tender in the United States until an Act of Congress discontinued the practice in 1857. The pricing of equities on U.S. stock exchanges in 1/8-dollar denominations persisted until the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

 converted first to pricing in sixteenths of a dollar on June 24, 1997, and shortly after that, to decimal pricing.

Long tied to the lore of piracy, "pieces of eight" were manufactured in the Americas and transported
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

 in bulk back to Spain (to pay for wars and various other things), making them a very tempting target for seagoing pirates. The Manila galleon
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

s transported Mexican silver to Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 in Spanish Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, where it would be exchanged for Philippine and Chinese goods, since silver was the only foreign commodity China would take. In Oriental trade, Spanish dollars were often stamped with Chinese characters known as "chop marks" which indicate that particular coin had been assay
Metallurgical assay
A metallurgical assay is a compositional analysis of an ore, metal, or alloy.Some assay methods are suitable for raw materials; others are more appropriate for finished goods. Raw precious metals are assayed by an assay office...

ed by a well-known merchant and determined to be genuine.

Thanks to the vast silver deposits that were found in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 (for example, at Taxco and Zacatecas
Zacatecas, Zacatecas
Zacatecas is a city and municipality in Mexico and the capital of the state of Zacatecas. It is located in the north central part of the country. The city had its start as a Spanish mining camp in the mid 16th century. Prior to this, the area's rich deposits in silver and other minerals were known...

) and Potosí
Potosí
Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal . and it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint, now the National Mint of Bolivia...

 in modern-day Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, and to silver from Spain's possessions throughout the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, mints in Mexico and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 also began to strike the coin.

Millions of Spanish dollar
Dollar
The dollar is the name of the official currency of many countries, including Australia, Belize, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States.-Etymology:...

s were minted over the course of several centuries. They were among the most widely circulating coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s of the colonial period in the Americas, and were still in use in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and in South-East Asia in the 19th century. They had a value of one dollar when circulating in the United States.

The coin is roughly equivalent to the silver thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

 issued in Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 and elsewhere since 1517.

Fiction


In modern pop culture and fiction, "Pieces of Eight" are most often associated with the popular notion of pirates
Pirates in popular culture
In American and British popular culture, the modern pirate stereotype owes its tradition mostly to depictions of Captain Hook and his crew in theatrical and film versions of Peter Pan, Robert Newton's portrayal of Long John Silver in the film Treasure Island, and various adaptations of Sinbad the...

.

Fictional portrayals

  • In Robert Louis Stevenson
    Robert Louis Stevenson
    Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His best-known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

    's Treasure Island
    Treasure Island
    Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "pirates and buried gold". First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island; or, the...

    , Long John Silver
    Long John Silver
    Long John Silver is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the novel Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Silver is also known by the nicknames "Barbecue" and the "Sea-Cook".- Profile :...

    's parrot
    Parrot
    Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

     had apparently been trained to cry out, "Pieces of eight!" This use tied the coin (and parrots) to fictional depictions of pirates
    Pirates in popular culture
    In American and British popular culture, the modern pirate stereotype owes its tradition mostly to depictions of Captain Hook and his crew in theatrical and film versions of Peter Pan, Robert Newton's portrayal of Long John Silver in the film Treasure Island, and various adaptations of Sinbad the...

    .
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End the Pirate Lords must meet together by presenting the "Nine Pieces of Eight", since these Pieces were used to seal the goddess Calypso
    Calypso (mythology)
    Calypso was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for a number of years. She is generally said to be the daughter of the Titan Atlas....

     in her human form
    Tia Dalma
    Tia Dalma, played by Naomie Harris, is a fictional character from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and a primary character in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, in which a significant amount of the plot revolves around her and her powers...

     by the first Brethren Court. As the Pirate Lords were, at the time of sealing Calypso into her human form, too poor to offer real Spanish dollars, they opted to use personal talismans instead, except for the "ninth piece of eight"( Jack Sparrow's) was an actual piece of eight that is hanging off his bandana in all movies.
  • In Neal Stephenson
    Neal Stephenson
    Neal Town Stephenson is an American writer known for his works of speculative fiction.Difficult to categorize, his novels have been variously referred to as science fiction, historical fiction, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk...

    's The Baroque Cycle
    The Baroque Cycle
    The Baroque Cycle is a series of novels by American writer Neal Stephenson. It was published in three volumes containing 8 books in 2003 and 2004. The story follows the adventures of a sizeable cast of characters living amidst some of the central events of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in...

    numismatics, gold and pieces of eight are an integral part of the plot. In the second volume The Confusion there is also a subtle reference to the fact that a piece of eight is composed of 8 "bit
    Bit
    A bit is the basic unit of information in computing and telecommunications; it is the amount of information stored by a digital device or other physical system that exists in one of two possible distinct states...

    s" (it is thus a sort of "byte
    Byte
    The byte is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, a byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer and for this reason it is the basic addressable element in many computer...

    " and a unit of information transfer).
  • In Daniel Defoe
    Daniel Defoe
    Daniel Defoe , born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, and pamphleteer, who gained fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain and along with others such as Richardson,...

    's Robinson Crusoe
    Robinson Crusoe
    Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and...

    , Pieces of Eight are also mentioned among the types of currency that the title character encounters.
  • Pieces of eight are used as currency in the Monkey Island series of video games.

See also

  • Spanish real
    Spanish real
    The real was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced...

  • Doubloon
    Doubloon
    The doubloon , was a two-escudo or 32-reales gold coin, weighing 6.77 grams . Doubloons were minted in Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Nueva Granada...

  • Spanish escudo
    Spanish escudo
    -Gold escudo:The first escudo was a gold coin introduced in 1535/1537, with coins denominated in escudos issued until 1833. It was initially worth 16 reales...

  • Columnarios
    Columnarios
    Columnarios are silver coins that were minted by Spain from 1732 to 1773 throughout their new colonies in present-day Latin America. While the majority of columnarios were struck in Mexico, smaller mints existed in Guatemala; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Potosí, Bolivia; and Columbia. The base...

  • Maria Theresa thaler
    Maria Theresa thaler
    The Maria Theresa thaler is a silver bullion-coin that has been used in world trade continuously. Maria Theresa Thalers were first minted in 1741, using the then Reichsthaler standard of 9 thalers to the Vienna mark. In 1750 the thaler was debased to 10 thalers to the Vienna Mark...

  • Piastre
    Piastre
    The piastre or piaster refers to a number of units of currency. The term originates from the Italian for 'thin metal plate'. The name was applied to Spanish and Latin American pieces of eight, or pesos, by Venetian traders in the Levant in the 16th century.These pesos, minted continually for...

  • Holey dollar
    Holey dollar
    Holey dollar is the name given to coins used in the early history of two British settlements: Prince Edward Island and New South Wales. The middle was punched out of Spanish dollars, creating two parts: a small coin, known as a "dump" in Australia, and a "holey dollar".-Prince Edward Island :From...



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