Spain’s and Andalusia’s currency system

The euro is the legal tendency in Andalucía, as it is in Spain and the rest of Europe.

On 1 January 1999 the third phase of the European Economic and Monetary Union began. The euro became the common currency of the EU countries, and was used as well as individual currencies (peseta, franc, deutschmark, and so on), but it wasn’t until 1 January 2002 that the euro became the sole currency for all EU countries. The three years between 1999 and 2002 were laid out as the transit period between the individual currencies and the euro to enable member countries to prepare for the changeover.

Even though branches of the national Banco de España continue to change pesetas into euros, all transactions are now carried out in euros, as in the rest of the EU.

More general information: Spain’s mint or monetary clearing house

It is difficult to adapt to a new currency, but to make it easier it is best to consider it simply as the unique currency of the country you are in or travelling to, in this case Spain, just one of the countries in the ‘Eurozone’. There are no exchange rates between these countries, and all have had to comply with certain preconditions of economic stability and support for the euro. Usted debe saber que:

Since 1 January 2002, the euro has been the exclusive currency in circulation in Spain.

Its paper bills come in these denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.

The denominations each have different colours and sizes, and notes are embossed with raised details readable by the blind and visually impaired.

The paper used contains fluorescent fibres and distinguishing colour designs. These factors combine to make the euro a difficult currency to forge; not impossible, but very difficult to copy and print.

 The note designs represent seven eras of shared European cultural history: classical (5 euro), Roman (10 euro), gothic-medieval (20 euro), Renaissance (50 euro), baroque and rococó (100 euro), glass and metal architecture (2000) and twentieth century architecture (500 euro).

These seven ages of European culture are represented by styles of architecture typical to the period: the three architectural details represented – windows, doorways and bridges – are not linked to any particular monument or country, but are representative of the architectural styles that have identified the individual schools of design chosen. They also, of course, symbolise interaction and communication between the countries of the EU.

The individual coins of the European monetary system are the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimo coins, and the 1 and 2 euro coins.

The European financial think-tank Ecofin decided that, in the first stage of discussions between the EU countries, the topic should be their common interests in sharing a unified currency. Subsequently, each member state decided that each would have to convince the other countries of their choice of design.

In the case of Spain, it was decided that the designs should feature Spanish monarchy, universally known figures from Spanish history, and typical features of Spanish architecture.

The final rate of exchange between peseta and euro, which was different for each native currency and the euro and would remain fixed after 1 January 2001, was 166.386 pesetas against a single euro.


THE PESETA (1869 – 2002)

The word ‘peceta’ (piececita, or small piece or part), is a diminutive of peça (pieza, or piece), first appears in the Catalan language of north-eastern Spain many centuries ago, its origin unknown. In the 15th century it referred to silver coin, and in the Middle Ages it was used in the design of the silver two real coin (real, plural reales, royal, referring originally to the value of the silver used in the coin).

At the beginning of the 18th century, the word ‘peceta’ appeared in Castilian Spanish, the dominant, official dialect and distinct from regional Catalan and other dialects, as ‘peseta’. An official document requiring certification or identification, known as a pragmática, dated 13 July 1718, is the first known use of the word in a formal document.

The Diccionario de Autoridades, national dictionary, of 1737 defined the peseta as “a coin with the value of two reales of silver in the province’s currency, shaped in the round.” This was its introduction to the modern language.

The manner in which the phrase passed from one language to another can be found during the war of succession to the Spanish crown (1705-14) between the French pretender to the throne, Philip of Borbon, and the archduke Charles of Austria. Charles had based his military forces in Cataluña (modern Catalonia), where he had minted a great quantity of silver two reales coins. Later, the coins would flood the Spanish economy, and from this began the popularisation of the word ‘peseta’ written as a phonetic approximation of the Catalan word. The Castilian ‘peseta’ also became common usage in Catalan as ‘pesseta’, a word still in use today.

The Castilian ‘peseta’ also became common usage in Catalan as ‘pesseta’, a word still in use today.

In September 1868, the revolutionaries behind the liberal coup in Spain initiated a unified montary system in Spain, using a metric, decimal system, to replace the real and escudo (shield) currencies then in circulation throughout the country.

A decree of 19 October 1868 established the peseta with the intention of strengthening the economy and business, and promoting a stable financial system.

Spanish currency, 25 pesetas 1871

The legislation for the peseta.- The first coin denominated ‘peseta’, even before it became the official national coin, was minted in Barcelona during its occupation by French troops under Napoleon I (1808-1814), who made his brother Jose I the king of Spain. On one side was its face value, on the other the coat of the Catalan escudo. Curiously, this was in Catalonia in 1808, and it was the first coin minted in Spanish and not in Latin, shortly before the arrival of the French. The inscription declared Fernando VII as king of Spain, and first appeared in the city of Gerona, with its name in Castilian as the place it was minted.

The first official peseta was minted in 1869 and stamped ‘Gobierno Provisional’ (provisional government), referring to the revolutionary committee led by general Francisco Serrano (if one can say led, for the soul of the movement against Queen Isabel’s monarchy was general Juan Prim, leader of the coup). It was also stamped with the name ‘Hipania’, a synonym for the more common Roman ‘Hispania’. This was inspired by a coin minted by the Roman emperor of Spain, Adrian, which featured the figure of a reclining woman against the Iberian peninsula.

Until the Restoration, no further one peseta coins were minted. During the reign of Alfonso II, further mintings of the single peseta were circulated between 1876 and 1885, the year of the king’s premature death.

The first minting under the Spanish Republic was during 1933-1934, and marked the reappearance of the female figure of ‘Hispania’, this time with an olive branch in her hand.

Popular imagination conferred the colour to the long mane of hair in the feminine portrait figured on the coin. Coins made of cardboard were also circulated when metals became scarce later in the Civil War.

Paper denominations of the peseta were first printed during the Civil War, a necessity when the war industry needed scarce metals for bullet casings and other weaponry.

The paper denomination is a fiduciary currency, that is, an agreement on paper between the State and the holder that the paper represents the value in metal held in trust by the State. The peseta note to the right is the first peseta in paper form issued in Burgos by the Banco de España.

Franco continued to print paper pesetas after the Civil War. The first Franco peseta note was dated in Burgos in 1938. The last peseta note carried the face of the Marqués of Santa Cruz, the admiral of the Spanish Armada, who died suddenly during the preparations to launch the Armada in 1588. It is dated 22 July 1953.

Until 1982, the peseta coin remained a copper-nickel alloy, made largely of pure copper, as over time it had proved resistant to wear.

The first one-peseta coin appeared in 1944, still without the image of the general. The first profile portrait of Franco appeared in 1947-1948, using a portrait by sculptor Mariano Benlliure, which at first suffered from an over-emphasised bas-relief effect lightened in later mintings.

The peseta of 1966, the last in the Franco era, was the work of Jan de Avalos. It is curious to follow the evolution of the general’s moustache on the coin, which grew smoother and trimmer with the passage of time.

Moneda españolaWith the advent of a new monarchy in 1975 and the return to democracy in 1978, the first pesetas with the face of the new king, Juan Carlos I, appeared.

For the back view of the dictator, look to the left. The minting of 1975, and the first of 1980, retained on its reverse the old coat of arms.

In 1980 coins began to appear marking the football World Cup, which was to be held in Spain in 1982. The reverse of the coin featured the single value. That year the currency actually and finally delivered the fiduciary promise of the currency; now the 1944 peseta was worth more than the metal it was made from.

In realising the relation between fiduciary value and metal worth, the peseta also changed metals, and here was made of aluminium, returning to the white colour (but not of actual silver) of coins before the war. The last issue retaining the traditional dimensions came into circulation between 1982 and 1989. The final minting was in 1989 and these coins remained in circulation until the euro replaced the peseta exclusively on 1 June 2002. The euros appearing from 1 January 2002 circulated along with the peseta for six months until it was no longer legal tender.

The peseta continued to be made until December 2001, ceasing production on 31 December that year.


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