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What is Siege Coinage?

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Siege coinage, also known as siege money, was a form of Notgeld currency issued during times of crisis during the 16th and 17th century. The production of these coins was generally performed by a group that is not sanctioned by the government. These coins were made during times of war or invasion when there was no money to pay anyone for their service. During times of invasion, the soldiers needed to be paid and trading still needed to continue within the cities, therefore siege money was issued as a replacement during times of war, including the Eighty Years’ War and The Invasion of Cuba.

The Eighty Years’ War or Dutch War of Independence lasted, well you guessed it, eighty years (from 1568-1648). This war started as a revolt between 17 different territories, which are now known as the Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, all fighting against Phillip II of Spain and the sovereign of Habsburg. Phillip II released his powerful army and gained control over almost all the rebelling territories quickly. Once in control, Philips’ army regained the North but over time the remaining regions were able to fight back and expel the charging army. Although the war continued in other regions, peace was finally reached in 1648 with the signing of the Peace of Munster Treaty between the Netherlands and the Spanish Crown, ending the war.

During this time, many territories issued their own form of currency. Below are some examples of the Siege coinage produced at that time.

(15)78 - 4 Stuiver - Deventer Netherlands

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1621 - 14 Stuiver – Julich

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1575 – 40 Stuiver – Netherlands-Utrecht

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1672 - 25 Stuiver - Neth-Gronin. & Ommel

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The invasion of Cuba in 1741 started during the War of Jenkins Ear. Taking place between August and December 1741, the attack was led by a combined British Naval and Army force commanded by Admiral Edward Vernon and Major-General Thomas Wentworth. The British forces landed in Cumberland Bay, now named Guantanamo Bay in the South East region of Cuba. During the 18th century, the area had a small population and was very far from the capital of Havana. Although there wasn’t much resistance, besides Guerilla raid’s and an increasing number of ill soldiers, the British Commanders did not advance on Santiago De Cuba and after months of little to no activity, they decided the evacuate the island.

Below is an example of the Siege coinage produced at that time.

1741 – 8 Reales - Cuba

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Image Courtesy of Marti Hervera and Soler & Llach

History

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