Silver 2 reales coin of Philip V, mutilated for use in Dominica as 2 bitts
Issued in Spain, AD
Mutilated for use in Dominica, about 1770-72
A coin pierced officially for use in a British colony
The island of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean became a colony, firstly of France and then of Great Britain in the eighteenth century. Like other West Indian colonies, Dominica provided the colonial power with the important commodity, sugar. To work the sugar plantations the colonists needed labour, which was provided by the trade in slaves from Africa.
As the colonies had no coinage of their own, mutilated Spanish or Portuguese silver coins were used instead. These were either cut into segments, or a hole was stamped into them, which in the case of Dominica was heart-shaped.
This mutilation of the coins had a dual purpose: it identified the currency for use in the colony, and also reduced the weight of the silver in the coin, thereby discouraging the export of the coin from the island. The metal disks cut out of the coin (known as dumps) were also used as money in their own right.
F. Pridmore, The coins of the British Commo, Part 3: West Indies (London, Spink, 1965)
Weight: 4.410 g
Gift of Dr F. Parkes Weber