What Portuguese gold coins were in circulation in 1814?

Ed R. writes: I’m not a collector. I am doing research for an historical novel. I need info on what Portuguese gold coin(s) would have been in circulation 1n 1814. Is it the “tostao”?

The coinage system in Portugal under Joao, Prince Regent (1799 -1816) consisted of the “Reis” coinage. The system worked something like this (at least until 1825):

  • 20 reis (copper) = Vintem
  • 40 reis (copper) = Pataco
  • 50 reis = 1/2 Tostao (silver)
  • 60 reis = 3 vintens
  • 100 reis but marked 80 reis (why?) = silver tostao
  • 120 reis = 6 vintens
  • Other silver denominations of 200 reis and 400 reis exist pror to 1814

  • 480 reis = 24 vintens or 1 cruzado
  • 800 reis = 1/2 escudo (gold) and minted 1805-1807 and not again until 1818
  • 1600 reis = escudo (gold) – minted in 1805 and 1807
  • 3200 reis = 1/2 Peca (gold) – minted in 1805 and 1807
  • 6400 reis = Peca (gold) – This was the main trade unit used to settle trade debt (.4228 of a troy ounce of gold).

Note that Portugese gold coins were not often seen in circulation. Even a 1/2 escudo was quite a bit of money and the mintages were rather small, usually in the hundreds, though there were 5,253 Portugal 1/2 escudos minted in 1805. Compare this to silver and copper coins whose mintages were from the hundreds of thousands to millions.

Brazilian gold coins were minted in far higher numbers, probably because of the availability of native gold and Brazilian gold under Portugal did circulate, at least in the New World.