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Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Through Numismatics

By Mark Harvey - May 3, 2023

In Episode 18 of PCGS Slab Lab, world coin expert Mark Teller gave a piece of advice that resonated with a lot of viewers, myself included. Among the many angles suggested for collecting foreign coins was to collect items from countries that are part of your family heritage because “they have history and they’re part of your soul.” My mom is originally from the Philippines, so I am one of many that has a particular affinity for the U.S. Philippines issues of 1903-1945. Taking a quick look through the PCGS Set Registry, there are roughly 60 different composites for members to choose from in that era alone.

Denver-minted 1945 U.S. Philippines 10 Centavos, PCGS MS67+. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.

Part of the draw of these coins, outside of their beautiful designs, is that they bear the names of both countries, and many were produced at United States facilities in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. However, what many might not realize is that there were millions of coins struck in those same United States Mint facilities for the Philippines for several years following.

This Proof 1974 1 Sentimo hailing from San Francisco saw a mintage of 10,000 pieces. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.

As noted in the PCGS Set Registry under the World Coins Manufactured By Mints of the United States composite “the Act of January 29, 1874, authorized the United States Mint to manufacture coinage for foreign countries, as long as the Mint had the capacity after its U.S. coinage obligations, and the other countries paid for the expense… In all, from 1876 to 2000, the Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Denver, and West Point Mints produced approximately 10.7 trillion coins for 41 foreign countries.” Completing a set here would require an astonishing 1,090 coins! But let’s shift our focus back to those manufactured for the Philippines. Multiple denominations were produced in both proof and circulation-strike format into the 1970s. If you follow this link you can actually see a historical document celebrating a contract for “250 million coins for the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1976.”

Mt. Mayon is featured on the face of this 20 Pesos Treasury Certificate as well as the obverse of nearly all 1903-1945 U.S. Philippines issues. Courtesy of PCGS. Click images to enlarge.

But, wait… There’s more! Philippines currency produced in the United States is not limited to just coins, as we can see above there are also banknotes that came out of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The pictured note has additional elements of interest in that it features similar design elements of its coin contemporaries and a signature from President Theodore Roosevelt.

2019-S Proof American Memorial Park and War in the Pacific America the Beautiful Quarters. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click images to enlarge.

I recently added my first U.S. Philippines piece to my personal collection and a few years ago made sure to pick up the American Memorial Park and War in the Pacific America the Beautiful Quarters to honor both my dad’s military service and the time my family spent stationed in Guam. As has been said many times there are coins for just about anything and even more ways to collect them. While it is thrilling to see the price of your collection climb, adding items with a personal connection can be a fulfilling endeavor regardless of monetary value.

Article provided by PCGS at
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