Today in “The Coin Adventurer Corner” I’m going to talk about a neat little bit of synchronicity that occurred today. We recently obtained a few 1 Libra gold coins from Peru. These coins are 22K gold and contain .2355 troy ounces of gold. They caught my eye because one side features a native Peruvian/Incan, which reminded me of the Cacique gold coins of Venezuela.
Then today, I see an article at Numismaster entitled “Gold Bullion Race Started by Peru?”. In it, Mark Benvenuto tells the story of how the Peruvian Libra could be considered the world’s first bullion coin, 69 years before the Krugerrand was introduced!
The Libra was not a denomination in Peru’s circulating coinage at the time. Instead, it was made specifically as an international trade currency, with the same gold content as the British gold sovereign. In fact, the libra was called the “Peruvian pound” in English-speaking countries. While the sovereign was used in international trade, it was minted to be domestic currency for Great Britain and her empire. The Peruvian Libra was made specifically for international trade, in a denomination that did not exist in domestic coinage. It was minted from 1898 to 1930, and then again from 1959 to 1969.
So, to recap: Both the Krugerrand and Libra are made of 22K gold. Both were denominations invented specifically for international/bullion trade. But the Krugerrand debuted in 1967, whereas the Libra was first minted in 1898.
Please check the article out for more fascinating details of this little-known coin, including the 1/2 Libra and tiny 1/5 Libra.