coinsbygary's Blog

05 Nov 2019

Watch Me Pull a Rabbit out of My Coin!

Coins-World | coinsbygary

It is likely that the 1869 1-peseta is among the first coins struck by the fledgling Spanish Provisional Government. This is primarily due to two factors. One, it was struck in 1869 and two, it is the only coin to have the unique obverse legend, "GOBIERNO PROVISIONAL." The legend on all ensuing issues of the silver pesetas is "ESPAÑA". Also, there are two small design features that only appear on this coin. The first feature is the stars on either side of the coins date. The other is a rabbit at the feet of a reclining figure of Hispania. Later in 1869, the legend of the 1-peseta coin was changed to "ESPAÑA" and the stars were moved to both sides of the legend. Lastly, the rabbit was removed from the design altogether.

The 1869 provisional government 1-peseta coin is 23mm in diameter with a silver fineness of .835 weighing 5 grams. The 1869 "GOBIERNO PROVISIONAL" peseta has a mintage of 7,000,000 and the 1869 "ESPAÑA" peseta has a mintage of 367,000. The two six-point stars on both sides of the date denote that this coin was struck in Madrid. The initials S.N. on the lower left rim of the reverse represents mint assayers Donato Álvarez Santullano and Rafael Narváez. The initial .M. on the lower right rim of the reverse represents balance judge Ángel Mendoza Ordóñez.

The obverse design features Hispania reclining on the Pyrenees Mountains in the east and her feet pointed at the Rock of Gibraltar in the west. At her feet is a rabbit. These design features are reminiscent of an ancient Roman coin struck during the rule of Hadrian. Of note is that Hispania is in a reclining position on the Roman coin with a rabbit behind her. The symbology of the rabbit is ancient and disputed. There are many explanations for the rabbit but I will summarize what I feel is more likely.

When the Phoenicians discovered Spain around 800 BC the rabbit's native to Spain reminded them of their native African hyraxes. Thus, they named the land, "The Isle of Hyraxes". When the Romans translated Isle of Hyraxes to Latin it became Hispania. The etymology of Hispania is derived from the word "Hispan" or son of Hercules. The Phoenician word "span" means "hidden or remote". Hispania translated to English is Spain. Interestingly the Roman and Greek equivalents of "Hesperia and Hesperia Ultima" translates to the "last western land."

This correlates to the "Pillars of Hercules" representing the Straits of Gibraltar on the reverse of this coin and the ribbons that proclaim Spain's national motto "Plus Ultra." Translated, "Plus Ultra" means "Further Beyond."

In the end, I am delighted to own the first and last pesetas as the bookends to the entire history of the peseta. This 1869 "GOBIERNO PROVISIONAL" peseta at the front end of my collection and the 2001, 100 and 2000-pesetas picking up the rear with all points in between representing 132 years of peseta coins.



Level 5

Great coin and blog. I really enjoy your explanations.


Level 6

Nice blog. I like your writings.


Level 4

Love the title, love the blog. Again, you did a great job.


Level 4

What a cool "rabbit". That is really fascinating! Excellent blog, and your theory for the rabbit on the coin really has some weight to it. Fantastic job!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Wow Gary, just as I was going to ask you about the significance of the Rabbit, you answer in detail. Always a great learning experience with you. Thanks again for a very interesting article.


Level 6

Very nice Gary. I saw that bunny when I was looking on Numista about your previous blog. Thanks for the explanation. I always enjoy your blogs and collections..


Level 7

Gary I was taught if you want to go for a set you go for it. You have done a great job in doing that!. The explanation of the coin is impeccable not to mention the history. Well done my friend. These are truly special coins. Thanks. Mike

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