By Lance Tchor – Founder and Co-President, WINGS® Coins LLC ……
American was propelled into war with Spain after an explosion that sank the battleship USS Maine at Havana, Cuba. “Remember the Maine” was the rallying cry that led to the Spanish-American War of 1898. The U.S. demanded that Spain withdraw completely from Cuba, Spain’s only remaining colony in the western hemisphere. Spain felt backed into a corner, and on April 24, 1898 declared war on the United States.
Only one week later, on May 1, Commodore George E. Dewey faced off against the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippines, another of Spain’s dwindling colonies.
Dewey and his troops destroyed most of the Spanish fleet and then occupied the Philippine islands, which was followed by protracted guerrilla warfare between Filipinos, who had proclaimed the islands an independent republic, and U.S. troops. This ended in 1901 with the capture of Filipino leader Emelio Aguinaldo.
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 that Spain signed gave full control of the Philippines to the U.S.
US Coins in the Philippines
U.S. coins were introduced to the Philippines in 1898. The Spanish coins in circulation there at the time were worn out and did not convert well into American coinage. Unfortunately, the U.S. coins were valued too highly for the weakened Philippine economy. Therefore a hybrid coinage was introduced in 1903 that was produced to standards identical or similar to that of U.S. coinage yet denominated in pesos and centavos like Spanish coins.
Coins struck between 1903 and 1945 carry the names of the Philippines (Filipinas) and the United States. These coins were struck at Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (S), Denver (D) and, beginning in 1920, Manila (at first no mintmark, later M).
US-Philippine Minor Coins
The half centavo was produced in business strike from 1903-04. Its production ended in 1904 because it was rejected by the people. After 1908 all remaining half centavos were melted.
The centavo was struck most years from 1903 to 1944. Both the centavo and the half centavo were minted in bronze.
The five-centavo piece was produced irregularly from 1903 to 1945, and was struck in copper-nickel.
All three of these coins present the image of a young Filipino male sitting upon an anvil while holding a hammer in his right hand. He looks off in the distance at the smoking volcano of Mt. Mayon, which is found on the main island of Luzon southeast of Manila.
US-Philippine Silver Coinage
The silver coins were the 10, 20, and 50 centavos, plus the peso. The 10- and 20-centavo coins were struck off and on between 1903 and 1945, while the 50-centavo piece was produced less often. The peso was minted from 1903 to 1912 and then discontinued.
The image found upon these silver coins is that of a young woman standing. Wearing a long flowing gown, she holds a hammer in her right hand and rests it atop an anvil. Behind her is found the volcanic Mt. Mayon.
All of these coins carried the same reverse design: the American eagle sitting atop the federal shield while clutching an olive branch in its right claw and a bunch of arrows in its left. Surrounding this was the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the date.
The Philadelphia Mint created proof sets that contained all seven of the denominations in 1903-06 and again in 1908. The mintage of proof sets ranged from 2,558 sets in 1903 to a low of 471 in 1905.
The Price of Silver Jumps in 1905
In 1905, the value of silver was rising. The standards for the four silver coins were established during a historic low in the cost of silver. By the end of 1905, the bullion value of U.S.-Philippine silver coins exceeded the face value. Thus those coins disappeared from circulation and were melted down or hoarded. The year 1906 saw only the silver peso struck for circulation, and the vast majority were ultimately melted–this turned it into the key date of the series. Beginning in 1907, all silver coinage was reduced in fineness and size, and was produced at these lower standards until 1945.
US Mint in Manila
Originally built from 1857 to 1861 under the patronage of the Spanish government, the “Casa de Moneda” began issuing gold coins in 1861 and silver coins the following year. All U.S.-Philippine territorial coins were produced in the United States until 1920, when the Manila Mint was reopened by the U.S. government. It was the first and only U.S. branch mint ever located outside the continental 48 states.
The Manila Mint struck coins until 1922, and resumed production in 1925. Manufacture ceased in 1941 when the Japanese invaded during World War II. The Manila Mint produced coins with no mintmark until 1925, when it began employing the “M” on all its coins. Except for the years 1944-1945, all remaining U.S.-Philippine coinage was produced in Manila.
From Protectorate to Commonwealth
The transition from protectorate to commonwealth took place on November 15, 1935. This historic event was commemorated on three silver coins dated 1936-M: two 50-centavo pieces and one peso coin. A professor of fine arts at the University of the Philippines, Ambrosio Morales, created the designs. Two of the coins, one 50-centavo and the peso, feature images of outgoing Governor-General Frank Murphy and incoming president Manuel Quezon. The second 50-centavo piece presents Quezon and American president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The reverse of these coins depicts the arms of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It was adopted as the reverse for all regular-issue coins starting in 1937.
The Key Dates in the Series
The key dates in the U.S.-Philippines series are the 1906-S peso and the Proof 1907 peso. Only two Proof 1907 pesos are known to exist.
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“Territorial : U.S. Philippines”, PCGS CoinFacts. Web. Accessed August 31, 2016.
“Philippines Under US Sovereignty”, NGC Coin Explorer. Web. Accessed August 31, 2016.
“The United States Manila Mint: A Type Set of the Coins & Medals of America’s Forgotten Mint. Commonwealth Commemorative One Peso (Roosevelt-Quezon), 1936,” NGC Collectors Society. Web. Accessed August 31, 2016.
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