Monday, December 3, 2007

Pieces of Eight

Pieces of eight were the most important currency on the high seas during the Golden Age of Piracy

The term refers to Spanish currency, which were minted of solid silver from the Americas and transferred back to Europe. One piece of eight was worth eight reales and is also called an eight real coin. It was the first world currency and even today, many currencies are based on the Spanish dollar. These coins were made exclusively of silver and were worth their own weight. A gold Spanish coin would be worth 16 reales, all pieces of eight are correctly made of silver.

They were often stamped to say that a certain company or person had assayed their worth and determined them genuine silver. Silver was the only currency that China would accept, so these coins were used round the world as a solid measure of wealth.

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