puerto-rico-coinThe cur­ren­cies of Puer­to Rico fol­lowed the devel­op­ment of the island close­ly.  It was grant­ed the use of both Spain and the Unit­ed Stat­ed because it was a colony of both coun­tries.  Puer­to Rico had its own gold, but by the 16th cen­tu­ry, the arch­i­pel­ago was run­ning out of it.  And because of this, a ship­ment of gold from the Viceroy­al­ty of New Spain was sent to the island to pro­vide eco­nom­ic sup­port.  This was called the Situ­a­do Mex­i­cano.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the ship­ment wouldn’t arrive often and with the lack of com­mer­cial pros­per­i­ty, plus nat­ur­al con­di­tions and dis­as­ters, mul­ti­ply­ing the costs of main­tain­ing hacien­das dam­aged by hur­ri­canes the econ­o­my suffered.


By 1766 Puer­to Rico began pro­duc­ing ban­knotes becom­ing the first colony to print 8 real ban­knotes in the Span­ish Empire which put them ahead of Cuba, His­pan­io­la and Spain by two decades.  These ban­knotes were used through­out the island while wait­ing for the situ­a­do to be shipped.    When it arrived, the ban­knotes were paid back to the Span­ish Crown.

PR1895coinDur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry, the situ­a­do was dis­con­tin­ued because of Mex­i­co gain­ing their inde­pen­dence from Spain, which cre­at­ed an eco­nom­ic cri­sis.  The Colo­nial Gov­er­nor in office, Sal­vador Melen­dez Bruna, ordered the issue of provin­cial ban­knotes, which cre­at­ed the Puer­to Rican peso, but some­time after 1815, the notes were no longer print­ed.  Dur­ing the 1860’s and 1870’s the ban­knotes reemerged and on Feb­ru­ary 1, 1890, the Ban­co Espanol de Puer­to Rico was inau­gu­rat­ed and began issu­ing ban­knotes.  By 1895, a Roy­al Decree ordered the pro­duc­tion of provin­cial peso coins.

With the end of the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War on August 13, 1898, Ban­co Espanol de Puer­to Rico was renamed Bank of Por­to Rico and issued bills equiv­a­lent to the Unit­ed States dol­lar, cre­at­ing the Puer­to Rican dol­lar.  After 1913, Puer­to Rico’s econ­o­my and mon­e­tary sys­tem was ful­ly inte­grat­ed into the Unit­ed States’ eco­nom­ic and mon­e­tary sys­tem.  There was even a quar­ter coin designed with Fort San Felipe del Mor­ro on the face of the coin.


Ban­knotes val­orized in mil­lions con­tin­ued in cir­cu­la­tion, thus a col­lect was ordered and held between Jan­u­ary 16 – 24, 1916.  The remain­ing bills, with an esti­mat­ed val­ue of $14,872 were tak­en out of cir­cu­la­tion nine years lat­er by the Puer­to Rico Com­mer­cial Bank.  Objects from Puer­to Rico are con­stant­ly fea­tured in spe­cial­ized mag­a­zines, in both nation­al and inter­na­tion­al dis­tri­b­u­tion.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Puer­to Rican dol­lars that were col­lect­ed by the gov­ern­ment, were burned between Jan­u­ary 16 – 24, 1925, dras­ti­cal­ly reduc­ing the amount of sur­viv­ing notes from the Bank of Puer­to Rico.  The Great Depres­sion reduced their num­ber fur­ther, since neces­si­ty pre­vent­ed the col­lec­tion of pesos in large denom­i­na­tions.  Less than five exem­plars are known to exist of the 100 and 200 peso ban­knotes issued by El Ban­co Espanol de Puer­to Rico and the 5 and 50 dol­lars Series F bills pub­lished by the Bank of Puer­to Rico.

394px-Puerto_Rico_PesosOn July 10, 2005, the Lib­er­ty Dol­lar of Puer­to Rico was intro­duced.  Sil­ver ounces began cir­cu­lat­ing on Octo­ber 8, 2005, mark­ing the first time that a sil­ver coin was dis­trib­uted in more than a cen­tu­ry.  In Decem­ber, 2007, the Unit­ed States Con­gress approved a mea­sure that includ­ed the Com­mon­wealth of Puer­to Rico, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and sev­er­al non-autonomous ter­ri­to­ries includ­ing Amer­i­can Samoa, Guam and Unit­ed States Vir­gin Islands in the 50 State Quar­ters pro­gram.  Both com­mon­wealths and ter­ri­to­ries were exclud­ed from the orig­i­nal pro­gram approved in 1998, which was fol­lowed by almost ten years of lob­by­ing before they were includ­ed.  The design on these coins was expect­ed to fea­ture the same George Wash­ing­ton image found in the obverse of the orig­i­nal issues, while the reverse would depict illus­tra­tions of some­thing char­ac­ter­is­tic to that loca­tion.  The Sec­re­tary of Trea­sury approved the design on July 31, 2008.  The coins were issued, as well as “proof coins” and 90% sil­ver spe­cial issues.  The Puer­to Rico coin was the sec­ond release in 2009.