November 29, 2008

The 1972 Marcelo H. Del Pilar 50 Centavos Trial Piece in Copper

The 1972 Marcelo H. De Pilar Trial Strike in Copper

During the introduction of the new coins and the second term of then president Ferdinand Marcos in 1966, several pattern coins were created by then prominent medal designer and a former member of the Philippine Numismatic & Antiquarian Society (PNAS), Jose Tupaz Jr. Among the known varieties by Jose Tupaz, Jr. were coins which featured the first couple heads, the former president, the pope & the former president, and the national hero Juan Luna, which surprisingly, was the only hero included in the project. The patterns were later refined and the official coin set was released in 1967, which replaced the old design, which was still adopted from the original design of Melchor Figueroa.

Some lead splashers of these patterns were also made, one of them is in the hand of a prominent dealer who made it as one of the display attraction in his shop. Though, not a single trial piece was reported to have existed when the mass productions were already started, there were clues however that the mint made trial pieces since during that same design transition, another major changes occurred.

By way of proclamation of Martial law (RA 1081) on the 21st of September 1972, Marcos implemented a vision for the new republic that would particularly unify the Filipinos for the coming changes in the future. He called this project “The New Society”, or Ang Bagong Lipunan, a model society that would uplift the lives of the Filipinos through unification. The campaign was massive that he vetoed that such slogan would be inserted and carried out though the daily lives of the Filipinos, including the monetary system itself.

Marcos already implemented the gearing of the society toward patriotism where Tagalog was adopted as the national language. The former seal of the Republic which bear its slogan in English was replaced by a new Tagalog version including the name of the Central Bank which was altered to Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas.

Recently, a final trial piece in copper of the 50 centavos that bears the portrait of Marcelo H. Del Pilar surfaced. This is the final die trial before the die was finally destroyed and discontinued. Amazingly, the piece survived without much deterioration because it was covered in glue when it was first found. The coin is dated 1972, the last date of the 50 centavos denomination before it was discontinued to be produced in 1975. Only after the end of the regime, that the 50-centavos denomination was again introduced at the time of President Corazon Aquino.

Whatever the reason why the “The New Society or Ang Bagong Lipunan never continued the production of 50-centavos remains trivial and mysterious. Yet, during the time of the New Society that gold coin production was resurrected after more than a hundred years hibernation, which made it as one of the most exciting period of Philippine numismatic.

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