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United States Coinage for the Philippine Islands: The Reduced Size and Weight One Peso of 1907 - 1912

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JAA

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Today's Journal entry is the eighteenth installment in my weekly series on the United States coinage for the Philippine Islands. The seventeenth of the twenty slots that compose a NGC USA-Philippines Type Set is the Reduced Size and Weight One Peso of 1907 - 1912.

When the U.S. Congress established the Standards for U.S. Philippine coins in March 1903 the price of silver was at an all time low. By 1905 rising silver prices brought the bullion value of Philippine silver coins to the level where they were beginning to disappear from circulation. By November 1906 the bullion value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over their face value. Laws prohibiting the melting and export of silver coins proved largely ineffective and something had to be done.

On December 6, 1906 the U.S. Congress passed an Act "for the purpose of preventing the melting and exportation of the silver coins of the Philippine Islands as a result of the high price of silver". The Act reduced the weight and fineness of the four denominations of USA/Philippine silver coins. It also granted authority to recall all USA-Philippine silver coins from banks and circulation and ship them back to the United States for re-coining into pieces of lesser fineness.

Under the new standards the silver One Peso coin was reduced from 26.95 Grams (416 grains), of .900 fineness silver (ASW .7800 oz.) to 20.00 grams (308.64 grains), of .800 fineness silver (ASW .5144 oz.). The size of the Peso was also reduced from 38 mm to 35 mm. The first year of production for the new "Reduced Size and Weight" silver coins was 1907.

The Reduced Size and Weight One Peso uses the same obverse and reverse designs that were used on earlier Pesos. The One Peso was designed by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa. 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.

Business strikes of the Reduced Size and Weight One Peso were made at the San Francisco Mint from 1907 through 1912. Mintage figures for business strikes of the Reduced Size and Weight One Peso are as follows: 1907-S (10,278,000), 1908-S (20,954,944), 1909-S (7,578,000), 1910-S (3,153,559), 1911-S (463,000), and 1912-S (680,000).

Since U.S. mints had to replace nearly all of the Islands silver coinage in 1907 it was not felt that there were enough resources to make 1907 Proof Sets. When Proof Set production resumed in 1908 all of the silver coins, including the 1908 One Peso, were struck in the newly authorized reduced weight and fineness. 1908 was the last year of production for Philippine Proof coins and the only year that the reduced size and weight One Peso was struck in Proof. The 1908 (P) One Peso is a PROOF ONLY ISSUE with a mintage of 500 coins.

All business strikes of the Reduced Size and Weight One Peso were made at the San Francisco Mint and have an "S" mint mark on the reverse to the left of the date. The 1908 One Peso Proof issue was struck at the Philadelphia Mint has no Mint Mark.

Like the U.S. Silver Dollar the Philippine One Peso coin did not see wide use in daily commerce as most people preferred the convince of paper money for their larger transactions. The vast majority of 1907 - 1912 One Peso coins were stored in the vaults of the Insular Treasury as backing for Philippine paper currency.

When Japan invaded the Philippines during World War ll it soon became apparent that the outnumbered U.S. and Philippine defenders could not adequately defend the capital. Manila was declared an open city to spare it from destruction by the Japanese and USAFFE (United States Army Forces Far East) forces withdrew to defensive positions on the Bataan peninsula and the island fortresses in Manila Bay.

In order to prevent the gold and silver reserves of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from being captured by the Japanese, government officials hastily crated the gold and silver in the Philippine Treasury and moved it to the relative safety of the island fortress of Corregidor.

During the siege of Corregidor U.S. submarines, outward bound on war patrol out of Pearl Harbor, would sneak through the Japanese naval blockade to bring in supplies and ammunition. After unloading their previous supplies they would take on as much gold and silver as they could cram into their storage spaces and ballast tanks. Then under cover of darkness they would break through the Japanese naval blockade and continue on their war patrols. Upon completion of their war patrols the gold and silver was off loaded at Pearl Harbor where it was transferred to surface ships for shipment to the safety of the continental United States.

While most of the gold was successfully evacuated by submarine there was far too much silver for the subs to take out in their limited storage areas. Sixteen million Pesos (the equivalent of eight million U.S. Dollars) in silver coins could not be evacuated. In order to prevent the remaining silver coins from being captured by the Japanese they were dumped into Manila Bay. The majority of these coins were 1907 through 1912 Pesos that were being stored for use as backing for the paper money then in circulation. Since the war over 10 million Pesos have been salvaged however these sea salvaged coins are typically heavily corroded from their long immersion in salt water.

Die Varieties: The Reduced Size and Weight One Peso has three recognized die varieties. They are: 1908-S/S (Allen number 17.03a), and 1909-S/S (Allen number 17.04a), and 1909-S/S/S (Allen number 17.04b).

Strike Issues: "Some but not all obverses come with flattened frontal hair, and occasionally a flattened left hand. Reverses do not have clearly defined breast feathers on the eagle. Some reverses will show uneven striking." (Shafer, 1961. Page 40)

GEM quality examples of most dates of this type coin are both rare and expensive. The least expensive dates are the 1907-S (book value $850.00 in MS65), 1908-S (book value $1,800.00 in MS65), and 1909-S (book value $1,200.00 in MS65). Choice Uncirculated examples are considerably less expensive. The 1907-S, 1908-S and 1909-S have book values of $225.00 to $250.00 in MS63.

The attached picture shows my 1908 One Peso, NGC PF63. (Mintage 500, NGC Pop 16/20)

To see my One Peso Registry Set click here: http://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=ngc

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 t

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