Sep 11 – 16, 2022
University of Warsaw
Europe/Warsaw timezone

Making Small Change without a Mint: the Cut Coins of the French West Indies (late 18th c.-early 19th c.)

Sep 12, 2022, 4:00 PM
Old Library - Hall 115-116

Old Library - Hall 115-116


Jérôme Jambu (Université de Lille )


At the end of the 18th century, the shortage of small change in the Caribbean Islands was such that the local authorities decided on their own initiative to make coins themselves. In the absence of local mints a practical solution was adopted and spread rapidly in these small territories, whatever the empire they were attached to. The solution was to cut into smaller pieces the large silver coins then available: the Hispanic-American pieces of eight. It appears from recent studies that the initiative was French, more precisely, from the Grenadine islands. Even the name moco, used in the early 19th century to describe these cut coins, comes from Guadeloupe, and does not have the same meaning attributed to it in the past. The success of the mocos was revealed notably because of their immediate falsification which could even lead to the production of “false reals” for collectors in Paris during the Universal Expositions.

Primary author

Jérôme Jambu (Université de Lille )

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