Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States that is found in the northeast Caribbean Sea and southeast of Florida. It was a former colony of Spain, and became part of the United States after the Spanish-American War.

Map of location of PR
Source: AS

First Banknote in Puerto Rico

The currencies that were used in Puerto Rico closely follow its history. After Spain colonized Puerto Rico in 1502, PR became an important port with its own supply of gold. However, mineral reserves slowly emptied and Puerto Rico’s economy suffered. To provide economic support, the Spanish Crown issued the Situado Mexicano. Taxes were paid through revenue stamps from 1636 to 1637, and then they began producing their own banknotes in 1766. The first Puerto Rican banknote was the 8 real banknote.

Puerto Rican 8 Reales | 1813 | P-2a |
Source: Banknote World Educational

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the situado was discontinued in Puerto Rico. In order to stabilize its economy, PR began issuing the Puerto Rican peso. There were two issuers of the Puerto Rican peso. The Tesoreria Nacional de PR (National Treasury of PR) and the Real Tesoreria de PR (Royal Treasury of PR). However, in 1815 the printing of the Puerto Rican peso was stopped. Instead, foreign coins were used as widespread currency.

On February 1890, the Banco Español de Puerto Rico (Spanish Bank of PR) was inaugurated and began issuing banknotes. The Spanish Bank designed four series and circulated three of these series from 1888 to 1900.

Puerto Rican 10 Pesos | 1890 | P-15 |
Source: Banknote World Educational

One of these series was the Queen Regent Maria Cristina series, also known as Series D that circulated from 1894 to 1897. This series featured Queen Regent Maria Cristina and different people on the obverse side and the Spanish royal arms on the reverse side.

End of an Era

After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States bought the remaining colonies of Spain for a large sum. The Banco Español de Puerto Rico was renamed to the Bank of PR to reflect this change. The Bank of PR continued its operations until 1913.

Puerto Rican 10 Pesos | 1901 | P-42s |
Source: Banknote World Educational

Early banknotes from the Bank of Puerto Rico reprinted Spanish bills that had a red overprint that said “American currency” and used both peso and dollar. These notes also replaced Queen Regent Maria Cristina with the Paschal Lamb.

In 1909, the Bank of Puerto Rico issued dollar notes. These notes featured allegorical women in front and the Paschal Lamb at the back.

Puerto Rican 5 Dollars | 1909 | P-47a |
Source: Banknote World Educational

After Puerto Rico’s economy and monetary system were fully integrated with the United States, the Bank of PR was shut down. PR dollars were redeemed for US dollars. Although Puerto Rico uses the US dollar, locals still refer to the dollar as the peso, the quarter as peseta, the nickel as vellon, and the cent as chavo or perrita.

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