Beautiful and rare U.S. Philippine proof coins are the highlight of any U.S. Philippines collection and my favorite area of collecting.
HISTORICAL & NUMISMATIC IMPORTANCE
United States coinage for the Philippine Islands is one of the most interesting and historically important series of U.S. coins. After the United States defeated Spain in the Spanish-American war of 1898 the Philippines, along with Puerto Rico, became United States possessions. At the dawn of the Twentieth Century the United States was emerging as a world power complete with territorial possessions. U.S Philippines coins are a tangible representation of that important time in American history.
Although regular U.S. coins and paper money were used in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, the economy of the Philippines was too poor to use the U.S. dollar. In 1902 a bill was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt authorizing a new and distinct coinage to be struck for use in the United States Territory of the Philippines. The bill provided that subsidiary and minor coinage should bear devices and inscriptions expressing a dual concept - the sovereignty of the United States, and the fact that the coins were for circulation in the Philippine Islands. The Philippines is the only U.S. possession for which a separate coinage was ever produced. (Shafer, 1961)
The "Peso" was established as the basic economic unit for the new “colonial” coinage and paper money. The official valve for the Philippine Peso was established at 50 Cents U.S. In addition to the silver Peso minor silver coins were authorized in Fifty Centavos, Twenty Centavos, and Ten Centavos denominations. The bill also authorized a copper-nickel Five Centavos, bronze One Centavo, and bronze Half Centavo.
Three designs by Filipino artist Melicio Figueroa were selected for the new coinage.
The common obverse design for the Peso and subsidiary silver coins features the standing figure of a young Filipino woman with flowing hair and gown. She is depicted striking an anvil with a hammer while holding an olive branch in her left hand. An active volcano is in the background. The denomination and the word “FILIPINAS”, Spanish for Philippines is inscribed around the periphery. In my opinion this design is one of the most beautiful to appear on any U.S. coin and deserves a place among the pantheon of classic U.S. coin designs.
The common obverse design selected for the bronze Half Centavo and Centavo as well as the copper-nickel Five Centavos depicts a young Filipino male seated with a hammer alongside an anvil. In the background is a billowing volcano. The denomination and the word “Filipinas”, Spanish for Philippines is inscribed around the periphery.
The common reverse design for all seven denominations features a majestic American Eagle, wings outstretched, perched atop a Stars and Stripes emblazoned shield. The wording UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the date is inscribed around the periphery.
1903 was the first year of issue for U.S. Philippine coins. All seven denominations of U.S. Philippine coins were struck in Proof from 1903 through 1906 and again in 1908. Proof coins were created using polished dies and planchets and double struck to bring out more pronounced devices. Unlike U.S. Philippine business strikes, which are frequently not well struck, U.S. Philippine Proof coins really bring out the detail in Figueroa’s handsome designs.
NOTES ON EACH YEAR OF PROOF COINAGE
- 1903 Proof Set (Mintage: 2,558)
“This figure represents the total of quarterly reports of Philippine Proof set sales at the Philadelphia mint, plus a few private requests by officials in both the United States and the Philippines. No sets were intentionally destroyed, released to circulation, or otherwise disposed of.” (Shafer, 1961, p.32)
- 1904 Proof Set (Mintage: 1,355)
The 1904 Philippine Proof Set was struck to order to meet collector demand. A total of 1,355 Philippine Proof sets were struck at the Philadelphia mint in 1904. In addition to the Proof issue 10,000 special mint sets, consisting of uncirculated examples of the four U.S. Philippine silver coins, were struck at the Philadelphia mint for sale at the Philippine Exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World’s Fair) in St Louis. “The first strikings of the special mint sets may have been proof-like in quality and appearance, but the majority of them were struck as uncirculated coins. Of the 10,000 sets delivered for sale at St. Louis, there remained unsold 6,746 sets. These were sent to the Philippine Treasury in Manila where another 500 sets were sold. The rest were placed into circulation as ordinary coins.” (Shafer, 1961, pp 32 – 33)
- 1905 Proof Set (Mintage: 471)
The 1905 Philippine Proof Set was only made upon order. With a minuscule mintage of only 471 sets this is the rarest U.S. Philippine Proof Set. With the exception of the 1905 One Centavo, which was also struck at the Philadelphia Mint as a business strike, all of the coins in the 1905 U.S. Philippine Proof Set are PROOF ONLY ISSUES. (Shafer, 1961) (Allen, 2008)
- 1906 Proof Set (Mintage: 500)
Unlike previously years Proof issues, which were made to order, the 1906 Proof Set was made on a stand-by basis. Governor-General Henry C. Ide authorized 500 sets to meet anticipated collector demand. The Bureau of Insular affairs had 1906 Proof Sets for sale as late as the early 1930’s. All of the coins in the 1906 U.S. Philippine Proof Set are PROOF ONLY ISSUES. (Shafer, 1961) (Allen, 2008)
When the standards for the coinage system in the Philippine Islands were established the Actual Silver Weight (ASW) of the four denominations of silver coins was set relatively high compared to the coins face value. For example the 1903 - 1906 Silver Peso had a face value of $.50 (USD) but the same ASW as a U.S. Morgan Silver Dollar. By 1906 rising silver prices brought the bullion value of Philippine silver coins to the level where they were beginning to disappear from circulation. In November 1906 the melt value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over their face value. Laws prohibiting the melting and export of silver coins proved largely ineffective and something had to be done. In December 1906 the U.S. Congress passed an Act "for the purpose of preventing the melting and exportation of the silver coins of the Philippine Islands as a result of the high price of silver". The Act reduced the weight and fineness of Philippine silver coins. Authority was also granted to recall from circulation and banks the silver coins that were still in the Islands and ship them back to the United States for re-coining into pieces of lesser fineness. (Shafer, 1961)
-1908 Proof Set (Mintage: 500)
The 1908 Proof Set was made on a stand-by basis with a total mintage of 500 sets. 1908 Proof Sets were also available into the early 1930’s.
Since U.S. mints had to replace nearly all of the Islands silver coinage in 1907 it was not felt that there were enough resources to make 1907 Proof Sets. When Proof Set production resumed in 1908 all of the silver coins were struck in the newly authorized reduced weight and fineness. 1908 was the last year of production for Philippine Proof coins and the only year that the reduced size and weight silver coins were manufactured in Proof. All of the coins in the 1908 U.S. Philippines Proof Set are PROOF ONLY ISSUES. (Shafer, 1961) (Allen, 2008)
RARITY, CONDITION RARITY, & EYE APPEAL
U.S. Philippine Proof Sets were produced in very limited quantities at the Philadelphia Mint in 1903 (2,558), 1904 (1,355), 1905 (471), 1906 (500) and 1908 (500). With the exception of the 1905 One Centavo, which was also struck at the Philadelphia Mint as a business strike, all of the coins in the 1905, 1906 and 1908 U.S. Philippine Proof Sets are PROOF ONLY ISSUES.
The mintages for U.S. Philippine Proof coins were minuscule compared to modern U.S. proof issues. For example only 5,384 U.S. Philippine Proof Sets (1903 – 1908 inclusive) were ever produced. In comparison the RARE 1937 U.S. Proof Set had a mintage of 5,542 sets which is more than the total combined mintage of all U.S. Philippine Proof Sets. An even more striking comparison can be made if we compare mintages of U.S. Philippine Proof coins to more recent U.S. Mint Proof Issues such as the much touted Kennedy Half Dollar Silver 4 Coin 50th Anniversary Set which is limited to ONLY 225,000 sets.
Counting all seven denominations only 37,688 U.S. Philippine Proof coins were ever minted (1903 – 1908 inclusive). This is far less than the mintage of many key date classic U.S. coins. For example the 1916-D Mercury Dime had a Mintage of 264,000 which is more than seven times the combined mintage of all U.S. Philippine Proof Coins.
During the early years of the 20th century the mint had not yet developed the special protective packing used for modern proof sets, and over the years, the condition of many of the surviving proof coins have deteriorated due to improper storage and improper cleaning.
Proof Sets were not sold in any sort of protective packing or cases but were contained in plain paper coin envelopes. Each coin was wrapped individually in thin tissue paper. This method of packaging has contributed to the micro thin hairline scratches seen on most proof coins as well as the heavy toning often seen. As a look at NGC and PCGS population reports will attest that GEM coins are quite RARE and all are very scarce due to the low mintages. (Allen 2008)
While all high grade U.S. Philippine Proof Coins are RARE, high numerical grade does not necessarily translate into superior eye appeal. I have personally seen many GEM and SUPERB GEM specimens that are quite unattractive.
In assembling this Registry Set I have strived to include only specimens with both high numerical grade and superior eye appeal. The average numerical grade for the thirty-five coins in this Registry Set is PF 65.55.
This set includes several ULTRA RARETIES including a stunning rainbow toned 1908 Half Centavo, PCGS PR67RB (Combined NGC/PCGS Population: 3/0), 1904 One Centavo, NGC PF67RB (Combined NGC/PCGS Population: 2/0), 1905 One Centavo, NGC PF67RB (Combined NGC/PCGS Population: 1/0), and 1905 Fifty Centavos, NGC PF67 (Combined NGC/PCGS Population: 8/0).
PEDIGREED U.S. PHILIPPINE PROOF COINS IN THIS REGISTRY SET
Several of the Philippine Proof coins in this Registry Set have very distinguished pedigrees including the Lois E Eliasberg Sr. Collection, Eric P. Newman Collection, and Dr. Greg Pineda Philippine Collection.
Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. Collection
- 1905 Half Centavo PF64 RD, EX. Louis E. Eliasberg Sr.
Louis Eliasberg (1896-1976) accomplished what no one had accomplished before or since. He built a collection of regular issue United States coins comprising all then-known dates and mint marks. He is the only person to ever build a complete set of U.S. coins. The Eliasberg collection is the finest group of United States coins ever sold at auction. This is considered the most desirable pedigree for any coin to have, as it is a virtual guarantee that a coin is choice, original and appealing. After Eliasberg's death his collection was divided between his two children. The Eliasberg (United States) gold coins were auctioned by Bowers and Ruddy in 1982. The Eliasberg (United States) Copper, Nickel, and Silver coins were auctioned by Bowers and Merena in two sales in 1996 and 1997. The Eliasberg U.S./Philippine coins were auctioned by Heritage Auctions in January 2007 (Heritage Auctions 2007).
Eric P. Newman Collection (Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society)
- 1904 Fifty Centavos, PF64, EX. Eric P. Newman
The Eric P. Newman Collection was carefully assembled and curated over a period of 90 years by noted numismatic writer and researcher Eric P. Newman, who at 102 years old continues to be active in his scholarly pursuits. The Eric P. Newman collection is known for its incredible depth and quality. Many numismatists consider the Eric P. Newman Collection to be the last of the vaunted old-time coin collections, ranking in importance alongside such highly regarded names as Eliasberg, Pittman and Garrett. Selections of World Coins from this phenomenal and historic collection were certified by NGC and offered by Heritage Auctions on January 14-16 2014. The specimens sold in that sale were from the extensive collection of the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (a Missouri not-for-profit corporation) and have been assembled over a period of 90 years. Proceeds of the sale of all items were used exclusively for supplementing the Society's museum operations and scholarly numismatic research efforts and for the benefit of other not-for-profit institutions selected by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society for public purposes. (Heritage Auctions 2014)
Dr. Greg Pineda Philippine Collection
- 1903 Half Centavo, PF67 RD, EX. Dr. Greg Pineda
- 1906 Half Centavo, PF65 RD, EX. Dr. Greg Pineda
- 1903 One Centavo, PF66 RD, EX. Dr. Greg Pineda
- 1905 Five Centavos, PF65, EX. Dr. Greg Pineda
- 1906 Ten Centavos, PF66, EX. Dr. Greg Pineda
Dr. Greg Pineda is one of the foremost collectors of Philippine coins and notes. Philippine expert Neil Shafer (the author of "United States Territorial Coinage For The Philippine Islands") describes the Pineda Collection as "the finest Philippine numismatic collection that has ever been accomplished". When Dr. Pineda decided that it was time to sell his collection the sale attracted Philippine collectors from around the world and was widely regarded as a once in a lifetime event. The Dr. Greg Pineda Philippine Collection was auctioned by Lyn Knight Currency Auctions on June 10, 2012 at the Memphis IPMS. (Lynn Knight Currency Auctions 2012)
PROOF SET TRIVIA
The face value of the seven coins in a Philippine Proof set is 1.865 Pesos or $.9325 in U.S. Dollars. Adjusted for inflation would equal $22.33 in 2010 U.S. dollars. The original selling price for a Philippine Proof set was two dollars per set of seven coins. Adjusted for inflation that would equal $47.90 in 2010 U.S. dollars. If you could go back in a time machine and purchase all five U.S. Philippine Proof Sets for the government issue price of $2.00 per set your $10.00 investment adjusted for inflation would equal $239.50 in 2010 U.S. dollars far less than todays FMV of a single GEM Proof specimen.
- Allen, Lyman L., “U.S./Philippine Coins, 6th Edition 2008-2009". Lyman Allen Rare Coins, Virginia City, NV, 2008.
- Allen, Lyman L., “U.S./Philippine Coins, 7th Edition 2012 Updated and Edited by Tom Culhane". Union, NJ, 2012.
- Heritage Auctions, "2007 January New York Signature World Coin Auction #425". Heritage Auctions, Dallas TX, 2007.
- Heritage Auctions, "2014 January 14 - 18 Selections From the Eric P. Newman Collection Part III Signature Auction - New York #3029". Heritage Auctions, Dallas TX, 2014.
- Lynn Knight Currency Auctions, " Memphis IPMS 2012 The Dr. Greg Pineda Philippine Collection June 10, 2112". Lynn Knight Currency Auctions, Overland Park, KS, 2012.
- NGC Online Population Report, December 2014
- PCGS Online Population Report, December 2014
- Shafer, Neil, “United States Territorial Coinage For The Philippine Islands”. Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, 1961.