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Provisional Royalist Silver Coinage issued in Valladolid de Michoacán during the War of Independence

by Carlos Jara


Valladolid de Michoacán (current-day Morelia) played an important role during the Mexican War of Independence: the war had started with Miguel Hidalgo’s call to arms (“grito”) at Dolores, Guanajuato on 16 September 1810, and a fortnight later, on 29 September, Hidalgo’s forces took Valladolid, though he left on 20 October and it reverted to Royalist control. Thereafter it remained under constant siege by the insurgents.

Three major types are known of a coin produced by the Royalist authorities, all dated 1813:

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Blank planchet type

1. The first is a “Blank” variety consisting of a blank planchet, with an edge design and two countermarked punches as “FVII” (obviously for Fernando VII) and “P. D. V.” (for Provisional de Valladolid). It is currently unlisted in the Standard Catalog of World CoinsGeorge Cuhaj, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1801-1900, 7th edition (Iola, 2012) but listed in Calico’s Monedas Españolas Xavier Calico, Numismática Española, 1474 a 2001 (Barcelona, 2008). as # 672. Two examples are currently known.

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Spelled out type (from the Pradeau- Bothamley 1971 sale)

2. The second is a properly struck coin with the spelled out legend “PROVISIONAL DE VALLADOLID”. It is catalogued in the current edition of the Standard Catalog of World Coins as # 178 and in Calico as # 670. This was the first type that was identified. The earliest example that we can trace is in the sale of the Erbstein collection (18 January 1909, lot 4758). Two or three examples are known, one of which (the plate coin in Pradeau) shows the same punch countermarks as variety.

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Draped bust type (ex. Gerber collection)

3. The third variety shows a draped bust of Ferdinand VII on its obverse, with the initials “P.D.V” on the inscription of the reverse. It is currently listed as # 179 in the Standard Catalog of World Coins and #669 in Calico. Six or seven examples of this type are now confirmed.

All past authors agree on the great rarity of these coins: for example, ElizondoCarlos Elizondo Jr., Eight Reales and Pesos of the New World, 2nd edition, USA, 1971 and the Standard Catalog of World Coins rate varieties 2 and 3 as “Extremely rare” and “Rare” respectively (variety 1 is unlisted in both of these reference works) while CalbetoGabriel Calbeto, Compendium de los 8 Reales, Puerto Rico, 1970 rates variety 2 (the only one he lists) as “RRR”.

Limited additional information on any of these issues has been provided by past authors. José Toribio Medina, in his Monedas Obsidionales Hispanoamericanas José Toribio Medina, Monedas Obsidionales Hispanoamericanas, Santiago, 1919 records that according to a document in the Archivo de Indias, Valladolid minted coins and that 877 marks of silver (ca. 6,400 coins) were issued between 5 and 8 August 1813. Alberto Pradeau, in Algunos deducciones sobre el 8 reales de Valladolid (bulletin of the Numismatic Society of Puebla, 1962) writes that it has to be doubted that the “Draped bust” type was actually struck in Valladolid as the city lacked the necessary equipment and questions the meaning of the “M. O.” initials. The write-up for the coin in the Pradeau-Bothamley sale (above) states that the “Currency was coined in 1813, when the city was under siege. When the coins fell into the besiegers’ hands, they counterstamped them with the seal of the Suprema Junta Nacional, and when these coins were recovered by the besieged armies, a new counterstamp was added: P.D.V. which means Provisional de Valladolid.”

A review of the historical background allows us to infer an acute lack of locally circulating media at the end of 1812 due to a variety of factors:

• the considerable contributions made to Spain between 1779-1809 (over a million pesos was given for the Consolidación de Vales Reales between 1804 and 1808);
• the relocation of foreigners away from the area after the War of Independence erupted;
• Funds confiscated by the insurgents in October 1810; and
• Funds taken through abuse of authority by the Royalist military forces between 1811 and 1812.

In addition, the previously authorized Zacatecas provisional coinage in local circulation was called in during 1812.


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Ordinance of March 11, 1813 authorizing the provisional issues at Valladolid

We know of an ordinance of 11 March 1813 to issue and authorize a locally produce provisional coinage, signed by the Intendent Manuel Moreno. This describes the originally projected type/design of the provisional coinage, namely, that it should be struck with a coin press, with the PROVISIONAL DE VALLADOLID inscription on the obverse and a simplified coat of arms of the city on the reverse, and a milled edge design and border device.

The ordinance informs that the coin press had broken down and describes a new type/design of the provisional coinage to be struck until the coin press is repaired and the original design can be issued, namely blank planchets with a milled edge design and two countermarks: F.VII. (Ferdinand VII) and P. D. V. (Provisional de Valladolid).

Other provisional issues in use

During the conflict, different provisional issues were brought into the city by several Royalist commanders. This caused confusion within the local population who rejected these provisional coins. A case in point is that coins of Zacatecas (probably the provisional bust design), Durango and Sombrerete were brought in in February 1814 by brigadier Pedro Negrete but rejected in local commerce. This led to a pressing need to regulate and withdraw provisional coinage found in local circulation.

So in mid 1814 Intendent Manuel Merino collected all available coinage struck in Mexico City to exchange the provisional coinage. Only 30,000 pesos (instead of the projected 60,000) were collected.

“It was decided to reduce all provisional coins circulating in this city to issues at Valladolid a single uniform and local type despite the incumbent losses from the smelting and refining of those from Zacatecas, Guanajuato and the one that was minted in this city showing light weight, adopting measures to deface the counterfeit cast and debased ones and that both the restruck ones and those that were acceptable would be marked with a stamp or sign difficult to imitate to certify them”.


We know of a counterfeiting operation of this coinage in late 1815, headed by one Vicente Carranza. The counterfeit ring got possession of the original dies and used debased or copper planchets. The members of the ring, when tried, were partially acquitted due to the precarious local economic conditions and the “profusion of counterfeit coinage to be found in circulation”AHMM, Siglo XIX, caja 13, exp. 8 (December 1815): “Autos contra Vicente Carranza, Miguel Rojas, Maria Josefa Delgado y Maria Dolores Carranza por haber falsificado y sellado monedas”).

Antonio Medina, the treasurer, wrote that “it was necessary to work at the mint for most of the time to add the Royal bust and coat of arms to the pesos that were initially minted with only two stamps of initial letters which were several thousand.”

New attributions

The above information allows us to suggest a new sequence for the known types, as follows:

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The first issue: struck from 11 February 1813 – August 1813

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The second issue was struck from August 1813 – late 1813

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The third issue was struck in early to mid 1814

A few coins of variety 3 might have been struck over other provisional types, as the example shown below.

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third issue struck over provisional issue