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Pre-Columbian "Hoe" money

1200-1500 A.D.
Origin: Sub-America, Central America
Length: 2" Width: 1"
Gift of the Lasser family
Acc. No. 1996-872,118
Pre-Columbian "Hoe" money
Label:Well before the arrival of the Spanish, the natives of what is now the area between Mexico and Peru used these "hoe" or blade-shaped copper pieces as a form of currency. Called "tajaderos," meaning "axes" in Spanish, they certainly didn't fit the European idea of coinage.

Regardless, they were accepted and valued against the Spanish silver reales and are mentioned and illustrated in documents going back to 1548. Another early reference says:

"This is the form of copper coins that were in use in New Spain. The value placed and at which these were commonly accepted was of four such pieces, if new, for five Spanish reales. If worn, many refused to accept them, and they were sold to be melted at ten pieces for one Spanish Real."

These pieces of native currency had fallen out of use well before the beginning of the 17th century.