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A Major Philippines Peso Error

By Jay Turner for PCGS ……

Philippines 1905-S Peso Error Double Struck, PCGS AU Details. Courtesy of PCGS.
Philippines 1905-S Peso Error Double Struck, PCGS AU Details. Courtesy of PCGS.

International submissions from the PCGS office located in Hong Kong offer a wide and diverse range of coins. Recently, an example of a very special peso from the Philippines, during its time as a United States territory, stood out as something both unique and rare.

After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States gained the territories ceded by Spain, which included Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The United States government took control of the territory, including its economy, and in 1903 began producing coins for the Philippines under the peso denomination. These coins would be produced at the United States Mints of Philadelphia and San Francisco, with additional coins being produced later at branch mints in Manila and Denver.

The initial Philippines peso coins issued under the United States contained 26.9563 grams of .900-fine silver and measured 38 millimeters in diameter. In 1907, the weight, fineness, and size would be reduced to 20 grams of .800-fine silver, with the coin measuring 35 millimeters in diameter. Both sizes carry the same design. The larger-size peso was issued 1903 until 1906.

The 1905 Philippines peso made for circulation was minted at the San Francisco Mint in California. Philadelphia Mint issues were Proof only, with a mintage of 475. For the 1905-S Peso coins, two major varieties are recognized; they exhibit a date with either a curved or straight serif. The combined mintage of both varieties is 6,116,000 coins – the second-highest output of the large-size pesos.

Close-up images of double struck error. Courtesy of PCGS.
Close-up images of double struck error. Courtesy of PCGS.

An example of a Philippines (under the United States) 1905-S Peso was submitted to PCGS at the Hong Kong office in 2022. This peso stood out as an incredible error, for the coin was double struck with about an 8% difference between the two strikes, leaving two different pressings of the design on the coin. The obverse features unique elements from this double striking, including two volcanos (Mount Mayon), two hammers, and double anvils. The reverse features significant doubling seen on all the lettering, including a doubled mintmark and doubled date. Being from the United States Mint in San Francisco, this error can be considered comparable in significance to a double-struck Morgan dollar. While the coin was unfortunately cleaned, being graded AU Details by PCGS, it is nevertheless a desirable item.

What makes this and other Philippines pesos from this period special is that it survives. The discrepancy in value between large- and small-size pesos is not insignificant. On December 8, 1941, just a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines was attacked by Japan. Between 1942 and 1945, Japan occupied the Philippines. Much of the silver reserve was dumped into Manila Bay to keep it out of the reach of the occupying forces. The silver that was found by the occupying Japanese was taken and melted. While today many United States Philippines coins exist, many more were melted or conditionally affected by history. Having a unique and impressive United States Philippines peso error coin today is truly a special treasure for that owner.

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