1877/1894, Chile/Guatemala (Republic). Counterstamped Silver Peso Coin. aXF!
Denomination: Peso Mint Year: 1877 (host coin) / 1894 (countermark) Reference: KM-142.1 (host coin) / KM-216 (countermark). Condition: Lightly cleaned, otherwise about XF! Material: Silver (.900) Weight: 25.03gm Diameter: 38mm
Obverse: Owl standing on inscribed scroll. Crossed rifles and swords on olive-wreath in background. / Legend: 0,900 – 1896 Obverse (host coin): Eagle, holding oval shield in right claw, broken chains in beak and right claw. / Legend: POR LA RAZON Y LA FUERZA * 1878 *
Reverse: Seated togate personification of the Republic of Guatemala, holding scales and cornucopia and leaning on inscribed column. / Legend: REPUBLICA DE GUATEMALA / Exergue: 1/2 REAL Reverse (host coin): Plummed shield of chile, within wreath. / Legend: REPUBLICA DE CHILE So (Santiago Mint) UN PESO Scroll Inscription: LIBERTAD 15 DE SETIEMBRE DE 1821 (proclaimed its independence from Spain)
By 1894, foreign coins had become so prevalent that the government authorized the counter-stamping at the mint, which was conducted with the dies of the 1/2 Real coin of the regular coinage of Guatemala. The counterstamping began on August 10th of 1894 and intended to legitimize the foreign silver coins, which were circulating in the country.
On September 15, 1821, the Captaincy-general of Guatemala (formed by Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras) officially proclaimed its independence from Spain and its incorporation into the Mexican Empire, which was dissolved two years later. This region had been formally subject to New Spain throughout the colonial period, but as a practical matter was administered separately. All but Chiapas soon separated from Mexico after Agustín I from Mexico was forced to abdicate.
The Guatemalan provinces formed the United Provinces of Central America, also called the Central American Federation (Federacion de Estados Centroamericanos). That federation dissolved in civil war from 1838 to 1840 (See: History of Central America). Guatemala’s Rafael Carrera was instrumental in leading the revolt against the federal government and breaking apart the Union. During this period a region of the Highlands, Los Altos, declared independence from Guatemala, but was annexed by Carrera, who dominated Guatemalan politics until 1865, backed by conservatives, large land owners and the church.
Guatemala’s “Liberal Revolution” came in 1871 under the leadership of Justo Rufino Barrios, who worked to modernize the country, improve trade, and introduce new crops and manufacturing. During this era coffee became an important crop for Guatemala. Barrios had ambitions of reuniting Central America and took the country to war in an unsuccessful attempt to attain this, losing his life on the battlefield in 1885 against forces in El Salvador.
From 1898 to 1920, Guatemala was ruled by the dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera, whose access to the presidency was helped by the United Fruit Company. It was during his long presidency that the United Fruit Company became a major force in Guatemala.