When I research the coins in my collection I often pour through websites like “Numista” that list dates, mintages, and basic data about world coins. As I have previously posted, I am assembling a Spanish peseta collection. While I was going through the copper issues of the 1870 1, 2, 5, and 10-centimos coins I noticed some anomalies in the years these coins were minted. Interestingly, sometimes you learn more from the questions you ask than you do by the information you absorb. Below are some of the conclusions I drew that you just cannot read in a book. I love connecting the dots in history and drawing my own conclusions. Below are what I think is a compelling argument for my interpretation of history.
The 1 and 2-centimos coins minted in 1870 would not be minted again until 1906 and 1904. However, the 1870 5 and 10-centimos coins were minted only seven years later in 1877. After 1879, they would not be minted again until 1937 and 1940.
Why is there such disparity in the minting of the aforementioned coins? The answer isn’t economic because there were sufficient coins circulating to meet public demand in 1877. Rather, I believe that they were minted in 1877 for political reasons.
Since the ascension of Queen Isabella II to the throne of Spain in 1933, her reign and in particular her line of succession in the House of Bourbon was constantly disputed. The first pretender to the throne was Isabella’s uncle, Carlos V.
Under the influence of Maria Christina, Isabella’s father King Ferdinand VII worked with the Cortes Generales (Spain’s parliament) to establish a family line of succession in place of the existing male-only line of succession (Pragmatic Sanction of 1830). Since Ferdinand had no sons Isabella II become queen upon his death and her mother Maria Christina became regent.
Snubbed by this change in the law, Carlos V would never become king. This led to the first Carlist War (1833-1840) to depose Isabella II and make Carlos V the King of Spain. Supported by France, the United Kingdom, and Portugal this insurgency by the Carlists was repelled. The Carlists as a political party survived well into the 20th century.
After the exile of Queen Isabella II to France, House of Savoy, Amadeo I was appointed King of Spain on November 16, 1870. With his appointment, the Carlists saw an opportunity to claim the throne of Spain albeit by force. Hence the Third Carlist War (1872-1876). After a failure to effectively govern, Amedeo I abdicated his claim to the throne on February 11, 1873. This triggered the founding of the First Republic of Spain. Unfortunately, anarchy prevailed until Isabella II’s son, Alfonso VII was appointed King of Spain on December 29, 1874. With broad public support, the Carlists were effectively quashed.
The Basque Country and Catalonia were Carlist strongholds. It is in these regions that in 1875 the Carlist pretender to the throne Carlos VII issued his own 5 and 10-centimos coins proclaiming himself the legitimate king of Spain. These coins were of the same size and composition as the 1870 Spanish Provisional Government coins. With a 5-centimos mintage of 50,000 and a 10-centimos mintage of 100,000 these coins effectively circulated with the already circulating Spanish Provisional Government coins. For the most part, they mostly circulated in the Basque Country. Most sources seem to agree that these coins were minted in Brussels.
Answering the claims of Carlos VII, Alfonso XII, reigning King of Spain oversaw the issuing of 5 and 10-centimos coins of his own. 1877-79 saw respectable mintages in the millions of both the 5 and 10-centimos coins. The reverse legends of both these coins read, “Constitutional King of Spain.” The obverse legends read, “Alfonso XII By the Grace of God.” Thus, these two coins left nothing to interpretation as to who was the legitimate king of Spain. Spain finally enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity leading up to the end of the 19th century.
While the legends on the Alfonso XII 5 and 10-centimos coins are standard legends used before the Glorious Revolution of 1868, it didn’t hurt to have Alfonso XII’s bust on millions of coins that everyone in Spain handled. To proclaim him the constitutionally appointed king on the face of the coin is the icing on the cake that Carlos VII could not claim.
The following is the Numista link detailing the coins I have been referring to. https://en.numista.com/catalogue/espagne-27.html#c_espagne142
So, do I have a case that will stand up in the courtroom of history? Gary.