World Coins

Philippine rarity to be offered in August auction by Stack’s Bowers

This rare 1899 centavo was struck by Philippine insurgents on the island of Panay during the Philippine-American War.

Images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

When the Spanish-American War concluded with an American victory, many Philippine residents did not want to trade one distant ruler for another.

An insurgent movement against the victorious Americans led to the creation of a major rarity in the Philippine coinage series. An example of this rarity highlights Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ official auction at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Illinois, from Aug. 13 to 16.

The 1899 Panay centavo is graded About Uncirculated 55 brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

While American forces were fighting Spain, Philippine Revolutionary forces fought beside the Americans, successfully casting aside their colonial oppressor. But Spain transferred governance of the Philippines to America in 1898, and soon many on the Filipino side began to distrust the fidelity of their newfound allies.

In early 1899 the Philippine-American War began, lasting more than three years until its official conclusion in favor of the Americans on July 4, 1902.

Rebels needed coinage

During the war effort, need arose for a coinage among the rebel forces, with crude and hastily produced issues such as the present piece being coined. 

While little is known about the revolution coinage, famed Filipino author and collector Aldo P. Basso, in Coins, Medals and Tokens of the Philippines 1728-1974, states that these are undoubtedly unofficial issues “struck on the island of Panay in the Visayan Sea and probably [have] some connection with the insurgency movement at that time.” 

This issue then served as a bridge between the Spanish colonial issues it replaced and the forthcoming American-produced coinage that would supplant it.

The design is crude but charming, evidence of the haste and limited technology available for its production. 

The obverse features a helmeted soldier with legend REPUBLICA FILIPINA 1899 around, while the reverse depicts a sun within a triangle and a surrounding legend that reads UNO CENTAVO PANAY.

The firm notes that the coin’s surfaces are “very well-preserved” and that it exhibits “a strong strike, full legends and attractive chocolate-colored patina throughout.”

Slight doubling on the reverse is indicative of its hastened workmanship.

It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. 

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