This silver peso is an unusual coin that is gaining attention among the US numismatic community. It was minted for the US Philippines, and the peso was the largest denomination made. American pesos circulated widely throughout Asia as trade coinage, and they are one of my favorite patterns among all US coins.
On the obverse, Liberty is shown pounding on the forge of freedom. It was designed by Melecio Figueroa and there is some speculation that the young Filipina woman shown on the coin was based on his daughter. She is wearing a flowing dress, similar to the garb of Liberty on other period coinage. The obverse of the coin shows Liberty in the act of one-handedly striking an anvil with a hammer while her other hand holds an olive branch. In the background is Mt. Mayon, an active volcano with smoke billowing from the crater. On the upper edge of the coin is the denomination “One Peso” and on the lower perimeter is the word “Filipinas”.
The reverse design features an eagle perched on a shield with symbols from the American flag. At the upper rim are the words “United States of America” and at the bottom is the year of issue. To the left of the year is the mint mark (“S” for San Francisco). Coin with no mint marks were minted at the Philadelphia Mint.
Identification code: KM 168
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 6,056,000 (more than 99.99% of the pesos issued in 1905 were minted in San Francisco – there were only 471 proofs issued in Philadelphia without a mint mark)
Country of origin: United States / US Philippines Territory
Composition: 90% silver
Weight: 26.9568 grams (0.78 oz ASW)
Other details: This coin is encapsulated in a sealed myler flip from ICCS and graded VF-30.
This coin was minted in 2 varieties. The 1905 curved serif peso (which this is an example of) is far more common than the 1905 straight serif peso.
How do you tell them apart? In 1906, the tip of the number 1 in the date was changed. One, or at most two of the sixty dies that were being used to produce 1905 pesos was punched with this changed pattern in the short window when both types of coin punches were in use. So, around November of 1905, some pesos were punched with a sharp edged number 1. This is a tricky variety to identify, but if you look closely at the tip of the number one, you’ll see a slight concave curve pointing up and to the left.
This is a Type-I peso (KM 168): it was minted from 1903-1906 and had a higher silver content. The Type-II peso (KM 172) was minted from 1907-1912 and had only 80% silver (for a total silver weight of 0.5144 ounces).
I think conventional wisdom has it backwards about which side of these coins is the front and which is the back. It seems odd to me that the date is on the reverse… the side with the date is almost always the obverse in other coins. Can you think of any other coins where the date is on the reverse?
While pesos were in circulation (1903-1945), they could be redeemed at any time for US dollars at a fixed conversion rate of 2:1. That meant 1 peso was worth 50 cents. Which would you rather have – this crown sized silver coin, or a 1905 Barber half dollar?
Estimated value: $50-65, with some consideration given to the encapsulation due to the number of counterfeits on the market. Ungraded examples are available in the $40-55 price range.
Here is a well written page describing the similar 1906-S US Philippine peso.