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United States Coinage for the Philippine Islands: The 1903 -- 1906 Peso

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JAA

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Today's Journal entry is the seventeenth installment in my weekly series on United States coinage for the Philippine Islands. The sixteenth of the twenty slots that compose a NGC USA-Philippines Type Set is the large silver Peso of 1903 -- 1906.

Without a doubt the 1903 - 1906 Peso is the "King" of the USA/Philippines Type Set. This large (38 mm) crown size coin (the same diameter as a U.S. Morgan Silver Dollar) is the largest coin struck by the United States for use in the Philippines while they were under United States sovereignty.

The One Peso was designed by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa and engraved by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber. The obverse design features a young Filipino woman standing to the right in a flowing dress while striking an anvil with a hammer held in her right hand. Her left hand is raised and holding an olive branch. In the background is a billowing volcano. The obverse carries the inscriptions "One Peso" and "Filipinas" (Spanish for Philippines). The reverse design depicts an eagle with spread wings perched atop an American shield. The reverse carries the inscription "United States of America" and the date.

The 1903 - 1906 Peso has a diameter of 38 mm and a weight of 29.95 grams (416 grains) of .900 fineness silver (ASW .7800 oz).

Business strikes of the One Peso were produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1903 (2,791,459) and 1904 (10,000) and the San Francisco Mint from 1903 through 1906. Mintage figures for the San Francisco business strikes are as follows: 1903-S (11,361,000), 1904-S (6,600,000), 1905-S (6,056,000), and 1906-S (201,000).

 

All of the 1904 (P) business strikes were produced as part of a Special Mint Set of USA-Philippine silver coins (Ten Centavos, Twenty Centavos, Fifty Centavos, and One Peso) struck specifically for sale at the Philippine Exhibit at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World Fair) in St. Louis. Of the 10,000 sets produced for this purpose 3254 were sold at the 1904 World Fair. Another 500 sets were sold by the Philippine Treasury in Manila. The remaining 6246 sets were placed in circulation as ordinary coins.

One Peso proof coins were made in very limited quantities at the Philadelphia Mint from 1903 through 1906. Mintage figures for 1903 -- 1906 proofs are as follows: 1903 (2,558), 1904 (1,355), 1905 (471), and 1906 (500). The 1905, and 1906 One Peso are PROOF ONLY ISSUES. Proof sets were not sold in any sort of protective packaging or cases but were contained in plain paper envelopes and each coin was wrapped individually in thin tissue paper. This method of packaging has contributed to the micro thin hairline scratches seen on most proof coins as well as the heavy toning often seen. Choice and GEM proof coins are very scarce.

The business and proof coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint have no mint mark. Business strikes produced at the San Francisco Mint have an "S" mint mark on the reverse to the left of the date.

The 1903 - 1906 Peso had a very high silver content (ASW .7800 oz.) compared to its face value. With a silver content slightly higher than a U.S. Morgan Silver Dollar (ASW .77344 oz.) and an official exchange rate of two Philippine Pesos to one U.S. dollar it was not long before the value of the silver in the Philippine Peso exceeded its face value. As a result coinage was forced to a complete halt by mid 1906. By November 1906 the bullion value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over face value and silver coins had virtually disappeared from circulation. In order to prevent further melting and exportation of Philippine silver coins all silver coins were recalled from circulation in December 1906 and exported to the U.S. for re-coinage into the reduced size and weight pieces which followed in 1907.

Neil Shafer reports that 30,482,534 Pesos in silver coins dated 1903-1906 (out of a total issue for those years of 32,779,281.80) were melted and re-coined into reduced size and weight coins. "This figure represents over 91% of the earlier pieces." (Shafer, 1961. Page 15)

"By June 30, 1911, out of a total Peso coinage from 1903-1906 of close to 27,000,000 pieces, only 2,385,855 Peso pieces were officially reported as yet remaining in the Philippines." (Shafer, 1961. Page 30)

Almost all 1906-S Pesos were stored unissued and later sold as bullion. This unique set of circumstances created the most famous and most sought after USA/Philippine coin the rare 1906-S Peso. NGC and PCGS combined have only certified forty-five 1906-S Pesos in any grade. Only eight specimens have been certified in mint state with the highest grade being MS62. The Allen catalog lists a theoretical value of $37,500.00 for a 1906-S Peso in MS63.

Strike Issues: "Obverses are generally well struck, but occasionally some flattening of the frontal hair and the left bosom and hand will be found. Reverses have indistinctly cut feathers on the eagle's breast, and sometimes a little flattening of the wing tips." (Shafer, 1961. page 40)

Die Varieties: The 1903 - 1906 One Peso has two known die varieties. The 1904/4 Peso (Allen number 16.03a) is only known in proof and is the only USA/Philippines proof coin of any date or denomination with a known die variety. The other die variety is the 1905-S business strike with a Straight Serf 1 in the date (Allen number 16.06a). In this variety "the serf of the 1 in the date is straight rather than curved as seen on all earlier dates. This 1 punch was used late in the production year for this date and again for all of the rare 1906 issue." (Allen, 2008. Page 32)

Finding Gem quality examples of the 1903 - 1906 One Peso can be both challenging and expensive. The weight and size of this coin made it particularly prone to bag marks so there is a very small population of surviving specimens of any date in MS65 or above. The least expensive type coin is the 1903-S business strike which has a book value of $1100.00 in MS65 and $275.00 in MS63.

The attached picture shows my 1903 USA-Philippines One Peso PF64. The 1903 One Peso had a proof mintage of 2,558. The NGC population for the 1903 Peso in Proof 64 is 7 coins with 24 specimens graded higher.

To see my One Peso Registry Set click here: htt://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=59844&Ranking=all

To see the other coins that comprise an NGC USA-Philippines Type Set visit my award winning (2011 Best Presented Set Award) USA-Philippines Type Set at: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=51257&Ranking=all

An expanded version of the USA-Philippines Type Set is found in my Custom USA-Philippines Type Set at: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=9238

Next week's installment will feature the Reduced Size and Weight One Peso of 1907 - 1912.

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