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Collect Antique Coins from Uruguay

These are the most valuable Uruguayan Coins you will ever see. It is possible that some of them will make you open your eyes wide.

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Coleccionar Monedas Antiguas de Uruguay

Uruguay is a fairly small country, and relatively new compared to other nations in the Americas and the world. Even so, it has a very interesting numismatic history that gives for collecting old coins from Uruguay.

In this article I am going to tell you in general terms about  antique coin collecting in Uruguay , and about Uruguayan coins.

If you don’t know anything about Uruguay, or about the  Uruguayan coins , with this text you will be able to get started in the world of Uruguayan numismatics. I hope you can fall in love with it as well.

Uruguayan Numismatics

Numismatics is also present in Uruguay. In fact, with a long tradition of coin collecting and institutions that bring together coin fanatics.

For example, there is the Uruguayan Institute of Numismatics, an organization with its own headquarters where collectors and scholars of ancient coins can meet and share experiences and knowledge about their collections. Its creation dates back to 1955.

This institution has a very interesting agenda of meetings and activities in which the more than 200 members can participate.

Also the Banco Central del Uruguay (BCU) stimulates the interest for numismatics in the country.

Banco Central del Uruguay (BCU)
Banco Central del Uruguay (BCU)

The BCU, for example, manages the Museo Nacional de la Numismatica, which is located in its own headquarters. The Museo Nacional de la Numismatica exhibits coins and banknotes from Uruguay and other countries.

Coin collecting is so deeply rooted that it has its own day. On  October 15 , the  “National Numismatics Day”  in Uruguay is celebrated every year with an agenda of activities.

Collecting Uruguayan coins

We must recognize that very few people decide to collect only  old Uruguayan coins . This is due in part to the fact that the number of coin types and models available for collecting are considerably fewer than in other regions of the planet.

Even so, for collectors of Latin American coins to have one in their stock of Uruguayan coins is almost a must.

History of Uruguayan coins

We could say that the history of Uruguayan coins begins in 1840, when the first 5 and 20 cent pieces were minted.

A curious fact about the history of Uruguayan coins, is that there are few coins minted in the country. Indeed, there was a  Mint that was based in Montevideo , but it only operated between 1840 and 1843, and then reopened in 1854 but closed again the following year.

Since 1857, Uruguayan coins have been minted in different latitudes of the planet.

France, United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina, Germany, Holland and Mexico are some of the mints that have minted Uruguayan coins. The list continues with Brazil, Spain, Canada, Slovenia and more recently Poland.

Where to buy Uruguayan coins in Uruguay

If you are in another country, and you probably are, this part is not of much use to you unless you are visiting Uruguay; and by the way, you want to buy some old coins to take with you on your return.

Even so, I wanted to include the places where you can  buy coins in Uruguay , since I aspire to be read from everywhere, and Uruguayan readers are welcome. After all, I myself am in Uruguay, and interested in the world of Uruguayan numismatics.


The first place you can buy Uruguayan coins is at the Banco Central del Uruguay (BCU).

Here you can  buy gold and silver coins now demonetized , and the famous commemorative coins that all countries mint from time to time when there is a date or event that deserves it. They also sell banknotes and assorted numismatic items.

In addition, there are at least two more reputable numismatic houses in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Both sites specialize in the  purchase and sale of old Uruguayan coins , and from other sites and regions of the planet. So they are excellent places to buy Uruguayan coins.

Where to sell Uruguayan coins online

A different situation would be that, instead of buying, you are actually wanting to sell old Uruguayan coins that you have in your possession.

If you are in Uruguay you could approach one of the numismatic houses I mentioned before. They are good options to sell, but you can also offer your coins online. This way you could find interested buyers in the country, or international buyers willing to pay a little more for your collectibles.

You can sell Uruguayan coins online on sites such as eBay or MercadoLibre.

If you contact  numismatic houses in Uruguay  or international, or online auction houses, you could reach some agreement to sell your coins in those sites. You should always keep in mind that these houses are intermediaries, so it is possible that they will take a commission from the sales.

Although the commission is paid by the buyer, and not the seller, the truth is that it impacts the final price making less money in your pocket than the actual amount the buyer pays.

This situation often leads people to believe that a coin has a value that in reality it is not.

Just so you understand what I mean, the ancient (non-Uruguayan) currency that has been paid for the most in history, is not currently the most expensive ancient currency. I have a whole article explaining this, and telling you what the world’s most expensive ancient coin is.

Most valuable Uruguayan antique coins

Well, let’s get into the topic that possibly interests you the most, what are the most valuable ancient Uruguayan coins.

The source of this information is an article published by Adolfo Ruiz Callejas in his famous numismatic blog. I have to confess that some of the old Uruguayan coins that I am going to tell you about below surprised me when I saw them for the first time.

20 Cents of 1840

This is one of the first two coins minted under law in Uruguay. The 20 Centésimos de Real, or “Vinten” were put into circulation on October 15, 1840, along with the 5 Centésimos de Real, or “Cinquiños”. Both denominations in very low mintages.

20 Centésimos de Real
20 Centésimos de Real

Because of this they are very rare coins, which can hardly be found in good condition. The 20 Centésimo coins can fetch up to  $2000 . The “Cinquiños de 1840” may fetch higher figures, as they are extremely rare these days.

20 Centimes of 1843

It was not until three years later that coins were minted again in Uruguay. In 1843, with Montevideo in a state of siege, Uruguayan coins were minted again, this time in the newly created Mint of Montevideo.

Veinte Centesimos de Real 1843 Uruguay 1
20 Centésimos de 1843

The 20 Centésimos of 1843 reused the 1840 dies, which is evident when you look closely at the last number of the year. A mere 15,000 of these coins were minted, so it is no wonder why these coins are very rare to find today.

If you find them, they can fetch some  hundreds of dollars , according to data provided by López Callejas in his blog.

Copper kinquiño of 1844

Cinquiños de cobre de 1844
Cinquiños de cobre de 1844

Slightly more expensive are the Copper 1844 cinquefoils, which can cost up to  $2000 , provided they are found in optimum quality. Less expensive are the 1844 “vintens,” which can be had for a few hundred dollars.

Montevideo site weight

Now we do enter into narrower terrain, when we talk about old Uruguayan coins that are of interest to collectors.

The well-known“Peso del Sitio de Montevideo” is the most iconic coin of all the models and denominations minted in, or by, Uruguay. It is also known as the “Peso Fuerte”. This Uruguayan silver coin, is one of the few historical examples of coinage (in silver) minted in besieged cities.

Peso del Sitio de Montevideo
Peso del Sitio de Montevideo

According to Javier Avilleira, the amount of coins minted was 1226

40 gold reals of 1854

Finally, the most expensive Uruguayan coin ever sold, is the 40 gold reales of 1854.

I should clarify that this coin was not minted for circulation, and the 3 that are known are coin assays that were never minted for circulating.

40 reales de oro de 1854
40 reales de oro de 1854

Of the 3 that exist, one was auctioned in 2016 and was purchased for  37 thousand dollars  plus commissions. It is the highest valued old Uruguayan currency of all times and models.

Which Antique Uruguayan Coins are you planning to collect?

I hope this article will be of much help to those who are interested in delving into the wonderful world of  Uruguayan antique coins .

It is incredible, that in spite of being Uruguay such a young and small country, it has such a rich numismatic history, both from the historical and monetary point of view.

If you liked the article share it on your social networks, or send it to that friend who loves ancient coins from anywhere in the world. Surely he will find here some other interesting fact that will make him a little more interested in the Uruguayan coins.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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