Pirate Money – Pieces of Eight and Gold Doubloons

Posted on June 22, 2010

During the Golden Age of Piracy, Spain minted coins in silver and gold. Spanish money was originally minted by hand. The silver and gold was melted down and then poured out into thin strips. As the metal strips cooled they were beaten to desired thickness by hand. Then the coins were cut out to an approximate size. After this, the metal blank was placed in coin die (or stamp) and the top coin die was placed on top of the strip. Then the minter would strike the die with a hammer and the face and obverse (heads and tails) of the coin would be imbedded in the soft metal.

Finr Full 8 Gold Doubloon

After the coin was struck it would be weighed again and if it were over weight, small amounts of the metal would be nipped off. Later, a coin press was used. In this case the metal was placed between the two dies and they were pressed against the metal, cutting off the excess metal and making all the coins look pretty much the same.

The silver coins were known as Reales (Reals) and the gold coins, Escudos (Escudo). The famous “Piece of Eight” was an 8 reale silver coin that had a distinctive “8″ stamped into it. It was the largest of the silver coins weighing approximately one ounce.

The gold coins were known as escudos and also came in a several denominations with the largest of these coins, the 8 escudo, weighing approximately one ounce.

There is often confusion about what constitutes a doubloon. Doubloon comes from the Spanish Doblón which means to double; thus a doubloon is a coin of double value.

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