Danny writes: I have two coins that I was hoping you would help me identify. Both are small circular coins, smaller than the american dime, and more narrow in width than the dime as well. Both look as if they could be silver, but the weight of the coins is nominal. Would you please tell me the history behind these coins, and their composition (silver, tin, etc.). Thank you, Danny
The first is dated 1898 and on that same side there is an illustration of a mountain ridge (three crests). Above the middle mountain is a sun. On the reverse the coin says “1/4 REAL” and below that inscription lie 5 little stars.
The second has an inscription that reads, “1/4 REAL 1869” and on the reverse there is a picture of a lion wearing a crown.
1. 1869 Guatemala 1/4 real (pronounced ray-al). (8 reales = 1 peso). The obverse shows a rampant lion. The reverse shows the denomination, 1/4 real, and the date within a wreath. The coin weighs .76 gram and is struck in .903 silver (.0220 troy ounce pure). Approximate Value depending on grade (condition): US $3 – $20.
2. 1898 Guatemala 1/4 real. The obverse shows three mountains, sun above, date below in exergue. The reverse shows the denomination within a full wreath, 5 stars below. The coin weighs .77 gram and was struck in .835 silver (.0206 troy ounce pure. Approximate value, depending on grade: US 50 cents – $2.
Guatemala city was founded by Pedro de Alvarado in 1524. He was an associate of the explorer Cortez. Guatemala as a political entity under Spain consisted of all of Central America except the area now called Panama. Guatemala became independent from Spain in 1821 but was absorbed into Augustin Iturbide’s Mexican Empire in 1922.
Guatemala joined with other Central American countries in establishing the “Central American Republic” (1823-39). This political entity applied for U.S. Statehood but was turned down by the United States Congress, surely because of political considerations with Mexico. Mexico would have been surrounded by the United States if such a partnership had taken place. Guatemala became an independent Republic at the dissolution of the confederation in 1839.