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United States Coinage for the Philippine Islands: The One Centavo of 1937 - 1944 by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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Today's journal entry is the fourth installment in my weekly series on the United States coinage for the Philippine Islands. The third of the twenty slots that compose a NGC USA-Philippines Type Set is the One Centavo of 1937 - 1944.


The One Centavo of 1937 -- 1944 continues the same obverse design that was used on the 1903 -- 1936 One Centavo. The obverse was designed by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa and engraved by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber. The design shows a young Filipino male seated next to an anvil holding a hammer in his right hand, his left arm raised. In the background to his left is a billowing volcano. The obverse carries the inscriptions "One Centavo" and "Filipinas" (Spanish for Philippines).


In 1935 the United States Congress granted the Philippines Commonwealth Status and promised independence in 1946. To reflect the new status of the Philippines as a self governing Commonwealth, the reverse design of all regular issue USA-Philippines coins was changed in 1937 to depict the official seal of the "Commonwealth of the Philippines". The reverse carries the inscription "United States of America" and the date. The mint mark can be found to the left of the date.


Design elements of the Commonwealth Reverse incorporate the rich history of the Philippines. Needless to say the eagle perched atop the shield represents the United States. The shield used was an adaptation of a design used for the official seal of The Government of the Philippine Islands which appeared on Philippine paper money starting in 1905. The three stars at the top of the shield represent the three main geographical regions of the Philippines: Luzon, Mindanao, and the Visayas. The lettering on the scroll beneath the shield reads "Commonwealth of the Philippines". The oval in the center of the shield depicts a modification of the Coat of Arms of the City of Manila which dates to 1596.


"On the 20th of March, 1596, King Philip the Second bestowed upon the ensigne y siempre leal City of Manila a Coat of Arms such as is possessed by other cities of the Indies. It shall consist of a shield which shall have in its upper part a golden castle on a red field closed by blue doors and windows and which shall be surmounted by a crown and on the lower half on a blue field, a half lion and half dolphin of silver armed and langued gules (red nails and tongue). The said lion shall hold in his paws a sword with guards and hilt." (Royal Edict of March 20, 1596 as quoted by Dr. Gilbert S. Perez in the Coin Collectors Journal, Sept-October 1946 and reprinted in Philippine Numismatic Monographs Number 19 in 1975)


If you look at the attached picture, you can clearly see the castle surmounted by a crown and the half lion-half dolphin holding a sword with guards and hilt in his paws.


Business strikes of the One Centavo were manufactured at the Manila Mint from 1937 through 1941. These pre-Word War ll issues were struck in bronze (95% copper, 5% zinc and tin) and had a weight of 80 Grains and a diameter of 24mm. Mintages were as follows:

1937-M (15,790,492)

1938-M (10,000,000)

1939-M (6,500.000)

1940-M (4,000,000)

1941-M (5,000,000)


Production of coins at the Manila Mint was discontinued during World War ll due to the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines.


During the 1942 through 1944 Japanese occupation of the Philippines, nearly all coins disappeared from circulation. In the occupied areas the Japanese collected all of the coins, melted them down, and shipped them back to Japan. The few pre-war coins that escaped the melting pots were hoarded and hid away until after the war. Most daily commerce was conducted with low denomination paper currency (Emergency or Guerilla Currency) printed by Guerrilla military units, local municipalities, or Military and Civilian Currency Boards authorized by General MacArthur or the Commonwealth government-in-exile under President Quezon.


During the Japanese occupation there was a very active resistance movement in the Philippines, and allied intelligence was very much aware, of the economic situation in the islands, and the need to bring new coins and currency with them when they liberated the Philippines.


In preparation for General MacArthur's return to the Philippines, the Treasury Department ordered the San Francisco Mint to strike millions of One Centavo coins. When American forces liberated the Philippines in 1944 - 1945 they brought with them Fifty Eight Million 1944-S One Centavo victory coins.


The 1944-S USA-Philippine One Centavo uses the same obverse and reverse designs as the pre-war One Centavo. It has the same weight and diameter as the pre-war issues but uses a different wartime composition. The war-time alloy was made from salvaged shell casings and used no tin in order to conserve that strategic metal for the war effort. Since the resulting coins had no tin in them they are actually brass rather than bronze. The wartime brass alloy consisted of 95% copper and 5% zinc. This is the same alloy the mint used for the production of U.S. wartime pennies dated 1944-1946. The mint produced this alloy by combining ingots of pure copper with salvaged 70% copper shell casings.


Business strikes of the 1937 through 1944 One Centavo often had strike issues. According to the classical reference book "United States Territorial Coinage For The Philippine Islands" by Neil Shafer: "Obverses usually found with very flat or depressed left shoulder of figure, and part of face and chest. Figure's right hand better struck than previous years. Left side of anvil's edge is found slightly rounded. Many reverses in uncirculated condition are found with flattening on lower and center sections of Coat-of-Arms; also, some or most of words "Commonwealth of the Philippines" on the ribbon not readable. On many 1937-M pieces the mint-mark just barely shows or is not visible. Later issues (1938-1941) show a change in style of mint-mark from a square M to a narrow M, which resulted in better clarity of mint-mark on the coins. It is far more difficult to arrive at a proper grading for the Commonwealth issues because of the very poor striking on the Coat-of-Arms and ribbon." (Shafer, 1961, p.37-38)


The 1937-1944 One Centavo has four recognized Die Varieties:

1938-M Repunched Date (Allen number 3.02a)

1944-S Double Die Reverse Variety #1 (Allen number 3.06a)

1944-S Double Die Reverse Variety #2 (Allen number 3.06aa)

1944-S Base of Last 4 Missing At Left Side (Allen number 3.06b)


The 1944-S One Centavo is generally the best struck year of issue and the easiest and most economical example of this Type Coin to find in Gem condition. Certified specimens of the 1944-S One Centavo in MS 65 RD and MS66 RD are readily available from dealers that specialize in USA-Philippine coins at a very reasonable price. High quality examples of the pre-war One Centavo are scarcer and well struck Full Red Gems can be a challenge to locate.


The attached picture shows my 1944-S USA-Philippines One Centavo MS 67 RED. The combined PCGS/NGC certified population for this coin in MS67 Red is only 11 coins with none graded higher.


This FULL RED SUPERB GEM is a die variety with the BASE OF THE LAST 4 MISSING AT THE LEFT SIDE (Allen number 3.06b). The 2008-2009 edition of the Allen guide book lists the highest certified grade for this die variety at MS66 making this coin unique in MS67 RED.


To see my One Centavo Registry Set click here: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=51347&;Ranking=all


Another One Centavo Registry Set that I recommend visiting is the set owned by coin928. This amazing One Centavo collection is 100% complete and all coins are fully described and illustrated. The coin928 USPI-1C Registry set is the second ranked One Centavo Registry Set and the top ranked set when only NGC coins are considered. To visit the coin928 USPI-1C Registry Set click here: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/SetListing.aspx?PeopleSetID=34793&;Ranking=ngc


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 Five Centavos of 1903 - 1928.



See more journals by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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I found a nice example of the 1944 s one centavo and it has the same base of the last 4 missing on the left side. The true view pics of the one above are absolutely beautiful and this is an area of numistmatics thats new to me. Although mine isnt red it would probably get the red brown designation and its condition is maybe choice unc but the toning is pretty especially for finding it in an old mix bag of foreign coins. Glad i found this info here. Thanks


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