Spain; Gerona. 1808 Duro (5 Pesetas), PCGS AU50. Silver. Calico-428; KM-10.
This piece was struck while the city of Gerona was under siege during the Napoleonic Wars.
In mid-1808, following the Spanish rebellion against occupation by the First French Empire, General Guillaume Philibert Duhesme of the French Imperial corps found himself badly isolated in Barcelona, which he had captured earlier in that year. Spanish occupation of Gerona threatened the French force's lines of communication between Barcelona, Spain, and Perpignan, France, so, after having failed initially to storm the city in June, Duhesme mounted a formal siege operation in July. However, the siege was interrupted by an attack by Spanish forces in mid-August, and although the Franco-Italian forces suffered few casualties, Duhesme and his soldiers became discouraged and withdrew. All told, the siege lasted from July 24th through August 16th, 1808.
Because the city was under siege during this period, it was unable to obtain official currency from the Spanish government for use in circulation; so, following the example of many earlier besieged cities (famously, Newark in 1646), it issued its own coinage so that goods and services could still be bought and sold. These coins were backed by their intrinsic value in silver, and were stamped with a crude design as there was no time or need to create more detail. The rims were given a rough form of reeding, possibly by hand, in order to deter people from filing down the edges to melt the scraps.
Rex says, "Quite an uncommon condition for this crude type, with even a slight bit of luster evident in the devices. Of great historical importance for collectors of both Spanish and Napoleonic-era coinage."
PCGS Certification Number: 36792920
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