Short history of the Spanish Peseta

How the Spanish Peseta has changed over time

The Spanish Peseta was the national currency of Spain from 1869 until 2002 when it was replaced by the Euro. The name Peseta comes from the Catalan word peça that means ‘fraction’. Before this (in 1808) some unofficial coins were minted in Barcelona with the words Peseta on them.

Unlike many international currency systems the Peseta was never given a special symbol (like the £, € or $), instead it was shortened to either Ptas, Pta, Pt or Pts.

Spanish Pesetas are divided into 100 centimos – the 25 centimos coins were also called Reales. The last Reales coin was produced back in 1959 and featured an image of Franco.

Spanish Reale

Spanish 25 Centimos or Reale coin


Spain joined the Latin Money Union in 1868 and following this the Peseta was introduced. Spanish law dictated that the Peseta became a sub division of the Peso with 1 Peso equal to 5 Pesetas.

As with many currency systems of the time the Peseta contained around 4.5 g of silver or around 20% gold. From 1873, the silver content was replaced by gold at varying percentages.

Following WWI the Latin Money Union disbanded and it was then that Spain became part of the Bretton Woods Currency System that tethered the Peseta to the US Dollar at a rate of 60 Ptas = 1 Dollar. In 1967 the Peseta established a new rate against the USD of 70 Ptas = 1 Dollar.

In 2002 the Peseta was replaced with the introduction of the Euro and the exchange rate was 1 Euro = 166 Pesetas.

Metallic makeup and nicknames 

In 1896 Peseta coins were minted in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Centimos and 1 and 2 Pesetas. The 1, 2, 5 and 10 coins were minted in copper (later to be replaced with Bronze) and the 20, 50 centimos as well as the 1 and 2 Pesetas were minted with silver content.

The 5 and 10 centimos coins earned the nicknames small dog and fat dog (perra chica and perra gorda in Spanish) on account of the Lion on the coin looked more like a dog! Many Spanish up until the Euro was introduced called the 5 Peseta coin Duros.

Nickname for spanish coin

In 1876 gold 25 Peseta coins were produced. This was then followed by 10 Peseta coins in 1878 and 20 Peseta coins in 1889. Production of gold Pesetas stopped in 1904 followed by the cessation of silver coins in 1910 and bronze in 1912.

Cupro-nickel coins were manufactured from 1925 as a 25 centimos coin and in 1926 the last silver 50 centimos coin was minted.

Change of rule meant change of coins

Because of the fairly turbulent history of rule in Spain each government or monarchy has changed facets of the currency.

The Spanish Republic of 1934 minted its coins as 25 and 50 centimos and 1 Peseta. The previous Royal minted coins of 25 centimos and 1 Peseta were used to determine the new coins composition and size. Further changes followed in 1937 when the first iron 5 centimos coins was produced and also a 1 Peseta coin in brass.

The first currency issued by the Nationalist government were the 25 new centimos coins with a hole that bore the image of the sun rising and arrows. Aluminium 5 and 10 centimos coins were first introduced in 1940 followed by a smaller aluminium and bronze 1 Peseta coin in 1944

All change with the Euro

In 1999 the Peseta was replaced by the Euro with coins and notes coming into circulation in January 2002. This was followed by the Peseta being taken out of circulation as non-legal tender in March 2002. Even today, 12 years later, many supermarkets and shops still show the Peseta equivalent.

Pile of Peseta coins

It is estimated that there is still around 1.5 billion Euros worth of Pesetas in Spain that were never converted to Euros.

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