The Quetzal


On November 26, 1924, General Jose Maria Orellana signed Decree No. 879 introducing a monetary reform and adopting the quetzal as the national currency. The new monetary standard is based on the decimal system and maintained for over 50 years its parity against the U.S. dollar. A Quetzal in those days amounted to 60 pesos from the old currency. In 1925, the first coins were minted with foreign and local emissions. The Philadelphia Mint coined the denominations of 1, ½ and ¼ Quetzal silver coins in 1925 and 20, 10 and 5 Quetzales gold coins in 1926. Also in 1925, Guatemala Mint manufactured denominations of 10, 5 and 1 centavos, with J. A. Ceballos as chief tester. The coin of 1 Quetzal was of little acceptance among Guatemalans, mostly because of its size and weight. Three years after its coinage 7000 of the 10000 coins were melted and the silver obtained was used to mint coins of lower local value. We know that in the subsequent years they continued melting the coins obtained by the Central Bank, without specifying the amount, which is why today it is extremely difficult to find one of those coins. In 1926, the Royal Mint of London coined the ¼ Quetzal coin, and this Mint was to take care of all the coinage issued from 1928 to 1939, including the other denominations of ½ and 2 cents that were added in 1932. The coins of 50 cents and 1, 5, 10 and 20 Quetzales were only minted during the first year, their values ??being replaced with the issuance of bills, almost always regularly minted only in denominations of 25, 10, 5 and 1 cent until now.



In 1931, the general government takes down Ubico who ruled for 14 years. During his administration he kept up with the financial policy started by General José Maria Orellana. In 1943, he asks the Philadelphia Mint to coin the national currency, in denominations of 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents of Quetzal. No coins had been minted since 1939. The 25-cent coin commemorated the inauguration of the National Palace, opened in 1943. In 1944, the Mint of San Francisco minted coins of 2 and 1 centavos in bronze, and coins of 10 and 5 cents in silver were minted locally.



On October 20, 1944, the revolutionary movement overthrew the dictatorial regime of General Ubico, who had left in charge General Ponce Valdes as interim president. The Revolutionary Government takes over, and then designates as president, on March 15, 1945, Dr. Juan Jose Arevalo, popularly elected for the period 1945-1951. From 1945, all coins are minted locally by the Mint of Guatemala. In 1949, changes occur in the design on the back of all coins according to decree No. 528 of 1948, which is preserved today, replacing the Quetzal perched on a pedestal, by the national flower, the Monja Blanca, in the currencies of 50-cent coin, that was not coined until 1962, by the head of an indigenous woman in the currencies of 25 cents, by a monolith at Quirigua's mayan ruins on the 10 cents, by the national tree, the Ceiba, on the coins of 5 cents , by the statue of Fray Bartolome de las Casas in the pennies, and a farming plow in a half-cent coins, a coin that was never minted.



In 1951, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman is elected as president, and three years later he is overthrown by an invasion funded by the United States to defend the economic interests of the United Fruit Company. Although Guatemala did not get a dictator as a ruler, as had been happening since independence from Spain, military dictatorships ruled the country for the next 30 years. In 1954, the making of silver fractionated coins was realized by different individuals and minting of the coin of 1 cent in copper was done by the Imperial House of Chemical Industries, in England. This firm also minted the cents of 1957 and 1958. In 1962 and 1963 they minted again after 37 years without being minted coins of 50 cents bearing the Monja Blanca design as stated in Decree No. 528 of 1948 (see picture). The coinage is made by the Mint of Guatemala. There are several different coins. 



In 1965, they definitely stop using silver in coinage and replaced it with the copper-nickel melt until now. The various coinages are made by the Guatemalan Mint in an almost regular fashion until 1995. There is assays of coins of 50 cents and 1 Quetzal in 1983 and 1984 (pictured below), but these were never formally minted. In 1992 a medal was struck with a value of 1 Quetzal celebrating the centenary of the birth of Guatemalan painter Carlos Mérida.



There were assays in 1995, of 1,10 and 50 Quetzales minted for a foreign entity, that were presented to the Bank of Guatemala as an example of material that could be used to manufacture currency in Guatemala without the sollicitation or acceptance of the Mint. They are currently being sold on eBay in the following varieties of aluminum, bronze, copper, bi-color material (aluminum bronze) and nickel (see photo below).




In 1999, 74 years after minting the first one, the 1 quetzal coin in bronze is minted for the second time, alluding on its other side to the "firm and lasting peace" signed on December 29, 1996, after more than 30 years of "war" with the Guatemalan guerrillas. There are known assays in 1998, with the same design in two varieties, with fluted edge and smooth edge. Also in 1999, new currency coins of 50 centavos are minted, in bronze like the ones from the 1962 edition and 1963 with the Monja Blanca on the reverse. That same year, they changed the material that had been used to coin the cents, then are now coined in aluminum.



For any suggestion or for further information, please let us know.
 Monedas de Guatemala
Victor Hugo Sandoval

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