World Coins: Colombia “Stonecutter” Gold 2-1/2 peso and 5 peso
Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader on 5/14/2013
With the current demand of gold and silver, investors and collectors are now turning to other sources besides modern generic government gold programs, and are looking to pay smaller premiums in order to obtain more bullion for the same price. Some pieces now being sold as generic gold can offer a great area for collecting as well as wonderful history. Two such coins that can sometimes be found for gold value from a dealer are Colombia “stonecutter” gold 2-1/2 peso and 5 peso pieces.
In 1871 Colombia went onto a gold standard pegged to the French Franc at 5 pesos to 1 franc. This was a result of falling silver prices. This lasted until 1886, when the gold standard was suspended and gold coins stopped being produced in Colombia. This was followed by the printing of banknotes that were not backed by gold and caused inflation – at one point there were over twenty-two million pesos in circulating banknotes issued by banks that had ceased to exist. To stabilize the currency, new bank notes were produced and old ones were redeemed at 100 paper pesos to one gold peso. A return to the gold standard was achieved in 1907. In 1913 Colombia again started to mint its own gold coins.
Starting that year, Colombia struck 2-1/2 peso and 5 peso pieces in gold. The coins were .917 fine gold and the 5 pesos weighed .2355 of an ounce while the 2-1/2 pesos weighed .1177 of an ounce - the same fineness and weight of the British sovereign and half sovereign. The obverse features a miner, but in the United States and elsewhere the figure has been nicknamed a “stonecutter.” The reverse features the Colombian arms and the fineness is inscribed on the bottom. The 2-1/2 peso Colombia stonecutter is a one year type struck only in 1913, with a mintage of only 18,000 pieces.
The 5 pesos stonecutter type was minted in 1913, 1918, and 1919. There are varieties on the 5 pesos, with different die rotations existing. The 1913 had the lowest mintage with only 17,000 coins minted. The 1918 had a mintage of 423,000 and has a variety where the die was recycled from a 1913 issue, and the date features traces of the underlining 3. The 1919 5 pesos had a mintage of 2,181,000 and can come with a long-tailed 9 or a dot over the 9 in the date. The varieties have no difference in Krause catalog values but may command premiums on the market. In 1919 the Simon Bolivar 5 pesos was minted and replaced the stonecutter design.
The Colombia stonecutter gold coins often have condition issues. From poor strikes to wear, the coins are rarely found in high grade. At NGC, a single MS 65 for the series has been graded. This, paired with the low mintages and survival rate, can in the future make it a desirable coin numismatically, but today it can sometimes be bought as a bullion coin with lower premiums than American gold eagles or even Sovereigns of the same weight.