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50 cents spanish coin: arrows up vs arrows down

By Fahani on the

Some weeks ago we talked on how a very normal coin can become a real treasure, just for being a special variant or due to an error during the minting process. This week we bring you in detail one of those coins, precisely we bring you the most known variant among Spanish collectors and non collectors, since there are several tales regarding its appearance along with a strong political symbology. Without any doubt this is one of the coins that you should preserve in a preference place with excellent conditions, specially if you are a Spanish collector.

Yuke And Arrows

We are talking about the 50 cents of peseta coin minted at the end of 1950 and the unexpected change in the orientation of the arrows included in its design. Modification that has not gone unnoticed by coin collectors or all of them interested in the symbology during the Francoist period.

Details of the coin

In the low from the State Central office, with date of 22 of December of 1949 that determined the minting of this new coin of 50 cents the following description could be read:

The coin will hold in the anverse the iconography representation of the Glorious Spanish Marine, consisting in an anchor and a helm wheel intertwined, and the inscription: “España 1949” (Spain 1949). The reverse will be made up by the Spanish shield broke up by quarters, and the inscription: “cincuenta centimos” (fifty cents)

This way, following this instructions were made the designs by the engraving chief by the time, Mr. Carlos Mingo, being the characteristics of the minted coin:

  • Alloy: cupronickel : 75% copper y 25% nickel.
  • Weight: 4 grams.
  • Shape: Rounded, smooth edge and central hole.
  • Diameter: 20 mm with a central hole of 4 mm.

Coin arrows down:

However, the mintage of this coin, that started production in the end of 1950 had to be stopped after not even two months (from the 15th of December of 1950 until the 14th of February of 1951), in order to add a modification to the original design: change the layout of the arrows in a way that instead of pointing down the do it up instead.

Coin arrow heads up:

This way, the minting of this coin continued using the new dies. A total of 197 million pieces were issued, from where only the first 990,000 maintained the original design.

The coin was circulating until the end of 1966, when it was substituted by a new coin of 50 cents with the bust of the Chief of Staff with the inscription “Francisco Franco, Caudillo de España por la G. de Dios”, along with the year 1966. In the reverse it stands out mainly the coin value.

50 Céntimos
50 Céntimos
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From: 0.50 €
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  • Alloy: Aluminum-magnesium.
  • Weight: 1 gram.
  • Shape: Rounded, striped edge.
  • Diameter: 20 mm.

The reason of the variant: different versions

Along the years different explanations have existed about the change in the orientation of the arrows in the coin, even getting spread the rumor that it had being an intentional manipulation of the die. The truth, however, looks much more easy.

The yoke and the arrows, symbols that recall the francoist period (1939-1975), they have their origin in the marriage between Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella of Castile in the second half of the XV century. The shield adopted by the Catholic Monarchs was loaded with huge symbolism, since it was intended to reflect the union in equality not only of the spouses and rulers Ferdinand and Isabella, but also of the reigns that they were ruling separately.

Coat of Arms Catholic Kings

Therefore, not only the heraldry of these territories is reflected but also personal symbols from the monarchs were added: the yoke with the Gordian knot represented Ferdinand and the bundle of arrows looking down Isabella. During the Spanish civil war the new francoist system recovered these images in order to incorporate them to its own symbology, since it referenced one of the most transcendentals moments in Spanish history: the union of the most important reigns in the peninsula.

The original design of the coin included the yoke and the arrows looking down, symbol of Isabella along with the rest of the state symbols. However, after a few coins being minted, the verbal order of the Minister of Finance (Joaquín Benjumea Burín) of creating a new die, in which the bundle of arrows looked up since this was in conflict with the image of the new Spain of the National Movement.

It looks like this change reacted to a proposal by the Minister Secretary of the Movement that back then was responsible for the operation of the unique party, the Spanish Falange. So it looks like the change was due to a mere image issue, and to the fact that the Spanish Falange emblem had the bundle of arrows overlapping the yoke and pointing up.

However, controversy regarding this variation does not end here, since during the same period, other circulating coins show the bundle of arrows looking down.

The peseta coins more popularly known in Spain as “rubias” (blondes) shoed in the reverse always the arrows looking down, and the same occurs with the coin of 5 pesetas “duro” or with all the bills minted during that period.

Due to this and the lack of an official version about the modification of the original design, it might be that we will never know the real truth behind the motivation of the change.

Value of the coin

The modified version of the coin has a low price in the market since a large number of units where minted, being in uncirculated state it can barely reach the 3 euros.

However, the original version of the coin has been very prized among collectors, this along with the numerous tales about the design changes have converted it in one of the most prized coins from all the francoist period. Therefore this coin in a god state can reach the 30 euros.
As a curiosity it should be pointed out the existence of another variant of this coin that multiplies even more its value in the market.

Because of the 2nd Exposition National of Numismatics and International of Medallistic (E-51), hosted in Madrid in the year 1951 a special set of coins was made with a better finish in which the inscription E-51 was included in the stars, instead of the year of mintage.

Edited Coin 5 Pesetas

Set of the coins:

This special set included the coins of 50 cents, 1 peseta and 5 pesetas of that year. Only 5000 units of this set where made, and that is why its actual market value is around the 3000 €.

Commemorative Coins Pesetas