Spanish Piece Of Eight

3-D Model

This 250-year-old Spanish Dollar, also know as a “Piece of 8,” was excavated at Fort Fair Lawn, SC on October 27, 2018

Because there were no coins minted in the colonies during this time period, English coins were often used, but the most common coin used during this time period was the Spanish silver dollar, worth eight “Reales,” a unit of currency in Spain.  These coins were valued by their actual weight in silver and were preferred over other currency because they had a milled or patterned edge, which is clearly visible in this scan. This patterned edge prevented dishonest traders from shaving slivers off of the coins without being detected. Since these coins were worth their weight in silver, change could be made by cutting the whole coin into eight pieces or “bits.” The British referred to the whole Spanish dollar as a “piece of eight” (a coin worth eight pieces or bits). This coin would have been valued at “two bits” by British standards.

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