The Coins of Queen Isabel II

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of Spain 1833 - 1868

10R-1853B : 1853 10 reales Barcelona mint PCGS MS62

0.900 fine silver, 29mm, medal alignment, lettered edge:  LEY PATRIA REY ⚜ ⚜  ⚜

Type: Looped Braid Head Right

The coins of the 1st Decimal period (1848-1853) include:


Copper:  1/2, 1, 2, and 5 décimas de real - Referred to as medio décima, décima, doble décima, and medio real respectively.


Silver:     1, 2, 4, 10, 20 reales


Gold:      100 reales

1st Decimal Period (1848 - 1853)

DR-1850a : 1850 décima de real Segovia mint PCGS MS64BN

copper, 19.6mm, medal alignment, plain edge

Type: Crowned Ornate Arms

During this period, Spain was in the process of adopting the metric system for weights and measures. It was hoped that such a system would facilitate trade and contribute to overall economic prosperity in Spain. The transition to decimal coinage was intended to reduce complexity of everyday commerce and similarly contribute to Spain's prosperity.

Perhaps the most influential factor in transitioning to a decimal coinage was the fact that many of the coins in use in Spain at this time were French francs which were already a decimal coinage. Spain's new system appears to have been not so much an abrupt departure from eons of Spanish tradition as it was a simple adoption of the current method of exchange into a Spanish form. The people of Spain logically desired, and their economy desperately needed, a coinage system to mimic and combat the dominance of French coinage.

The royal decree of 15 April 1848 introduced Spain's first decimal coinage. Under this system reales de vellón were the sole unit of account. Gold coins would be issued in a 100 reales denomination while silver coins continued largely as before except for modifications to their weight and purity in an attempt to combat their export. The maravedís were abandoned and décimas de real (tenths of a real) introduced as the copper coinage. The designs of all coins were revised to reflect the change in the coinage system.

The first decimal period is defined primarily by the copper coinage denominations based on décima de real (tenths of a real). This is the 1 décima de real. There was only one type of the décima de real (1850-1853). The aquaduct mint mark above the date identifies these coins as being struck at the Segovia mint.

The coin pictured here is an uncirculated example with beautiful coppery iridescent toning, transitioning from dark to light as the coin is tilted and rolled in hand.

The silver and gold coins of this period are characterized by the Looped Braid Head Right type on the obverse. As with the designs of the Kingdom period the engraver adapted the queen's appearance and hairstyle for the coins. The queen often wore a looped braid hairstyle which was depicted in various forms on the decimal coins from this point onward.

This particular coin is well struck with dark toning at edges and subdued luster in those areas. The remaining surfaces are lustrous and devices are sharp with relatively few marks.

Isabel II of Spain

- painting by Federico de Madrazo

Also, beginning in 1850 the assayers’ initials were no longer placed on coins and mint of manufacture would henceforth be indicated on silver and gold coins by stars which appeared at either side of the denomination. Coins minted at Madrid displayed a six pointed star, Seville a seven pointed star, and Barcelona an eight pointed star. Copper coins continued to use the old style mintmarks until the 3rd Decimal period when they also began to employ stars.

MR-1848M : 1848 medio real Madrid mint NGC MS63BN

copper, 31mm, medal alignment, plain edge

Type: Crowned Ornate Arms - Plain Ring Reverse

The first decimal period is defined primarily by the copper coinage denominations based on décima de real (tenths of a real). This is the 5 décima de real, most commonly referred to as medio real (half real). There were four types of the medio real (1848-1853). They are distinguished by what appears in the area above the denomination on reverse: starburst, plain, small wreath, or large wreath. The first three of these varieties were essentially tests, though a number of plain and small wreath types did enter circulation. The large wreath type was ultimately settled on for production in 1850 and was produced each year until 1853. The example above is of the plain variety and the M mint mark above the date identifies it as being struck at the Madrid mint. Eye appealing uncirculated examples are quite scarce.

The coin pictured here is an attractive uncirculated example with pleasing brown color accented by hints of remaining luster in the protected areas.

MR-1850a : 1850 medio real Segovia mint NGC MS63BN

copper, 31mm, medal alignment, plain edge

Type: Crowned Ornate Arms - Large Wreath Reverse

The first decimal period is defined primarily by the copper coinage denominations based on décima de real (tenths of a real). This is the 5 décima de real, most commonly referred to as medio real (half real). There were four types of the medio real (1848-1853). They are distinguished by what appears in the area above the denomination on reverse: starburst, plain, small wreath, or large wreath. The first three of these varieties were essentially tests, though a number of plain and small wreath types did enter circulation. The large wreath type was ultimately settled on for production in 1850 and was produced each year until 1853. The example above is of the large wreath variety and the aqueduct mint mark above the date identifies it as being struck at the Segovia mint. Eye appealing uncirculated examples are quite scarce.

The coin pictured here is an attractive uncirculated example with pleasing brown color accented by hints of remaining luster in the protected areas. Lines and hazy areas on the reverse are on the NGC holder, not the coin.