The denominations which circulated were: reales 1 dollar 4 reales ½ dollar 2 reales ¼ dollar 1 real 1/8 dollar ½ real 1/16 dollar. Its multiples were the pistole (double escudo), double pistole (half doubloon) and the quadruple pistole or doubloon. However, the principal gold coins in circulation were the doubloon and pistole, as the other denominations were seldom seen. In addition to these Spanish coins, gold and silver coins from other countries also circulated in Jamaica.
From France there was the gold pistole and silver ecu, and from Portugal there was a gold moidore, half johannes and the johannes. The local colonial authorities set the exchange rates of these coins in terms of pounds, shillings and pence but the rates were different from those used in England. In 1681, the House of Assembly passed an act to ascertain the value of the foreign coins in circulation. The value of the pieces of eight minted in Spain and Mexico were valued at 5/- while the Peruvian dollar was rated at 4/-. Between 1707 and 1722, the value of the 8 reales was increased to 6/3. In 1758, the Jamaican Assembly passed an act to make 100 000 pounds worth of Spanish coins legal tender and to have a fixed value. In order to distinguish these coins, they were to be counter-stamped with a special design - a floreate GR in a round indent.
(GR represented the reigning English monarch, Georgius Rex, George II). By this act the value of the dollar was increased to 6/8 and by common consent, all coins, whether stamped or not, passed at this new rate. However, the project was abandoned in 1759 as the act was repealed by the United Kingdom authorities and the Governor of Jamaica censured for exceeding his powers in approving the act. By the beginning of the 19th century, the British Colonial Empire had increased considerably, and the problem of currency used in the colonies was becoming more complicated. In 1816, the Imperial Government turned its attention to the deficiencies of colonial currency and sent out enquiries to the colonies asking for particulars of their systems of currency. By the beginning of the 19th century, the British Colonial Empire had increased considerably, and the problem of currency used in the colonies was becoming more complicated. In 1816, the Imperial Government turned its attention to the deficiencies of colonial currency and sent out enquiries to the colonies asking for particulars of their systems of currency. In 1820, in response to a request from Mauritius, the Imperial Government struck silver coins for circulation in that territory. The coins were designed and struck by the Royal Mint in denominations of ¼, 1/8, 1/16 parts of the dollar and were of equal fineness and proportionate weight as the Spanish dollar. The coins became known as 'anchor money' because they had the design of an anchor on the reverse. In 1822, the Colonial Office issued orders for the mint to strike 'anchor' coins for use in the West Indies. The coins were to circulate in all the British West Indian territories where British troops were stationed. But Jamaica had no shortage of coins of these denominations, as the Spanish coins continued to circulate, so the Governor pointed out that the coins were not needed here. At first their use was limited to military transactions as the local merchants did not accept them. The issue was not successful in Jamaica and as a consequence, was not repeated, although the coins continued in limited circulation until the 1840s. The British government's great attempt to introduce British silver and copper coins into circulation in the colonies was made in 1825. Up until then, coins used in Jamaica had all been made of silver, and the Negroes rejected the copper coins which had been introduced. This aversion to the copper coins resulted in the consignment for 1825, and those of later years being re-exported. The Negroes, who had become devout Christians did not think it appropriate to offer copper coins for collection. Because of their poverty, however, they could not afford the higher denominations and there was a shortage of lower denomination silver coins. In accordance with a resolution of the House of Assembly of 4 July 1834, British silver three pence and penny ha'penny pieces were imported in that year. The penny ha'penny became known as a 'quartile' or quarter real, and if we accept the value of the real as six-pence, we can easily see how the penny ha'penny came to be known as a 'quattie'. Because of the specific need which these coins filled, they became known as "Christian quatties." BRITISH COLONIAL COINAGE. In 1839, an Act was passed which stated that as of 31 December 1840, the currency of Britain should be that of Jamaica, that is,the lower denomination copper coins, farthing, half penny, penny ha'penny and penny as well as the higher denomination silver coins, three pence, six pence, shilling, florin half crown and crown. While the Spanish coins were demonetized, an exception was made in the case of the Spanish doubloon, which remained legal tender at a rate of 3.4.0, until it was demonetized on 01 April 1901.
Following emancipation in 1838, when the freed slaves became wage earners, there was a greater need for ready cash, especially for values smaller than penny ha'penny. The copper and bronze coins of the British Imperial coinage were still unpopular among the Negro population who refused to use them, so an acceptable metal had to be found for coins of these denominations. Cupro-nickel, which was just gaining popularity as a metal for coinage was to provide the answer. By the Order in Council and Proclamation of 11 November 1869, and by local laws, the penny and half-penny made of cupro-nickel were authorized to be struck for use in Jamaica. They weighed the same as the English coins of similar value, but had the Jamaican coat of arms on the reverse. As the British silver coins were accepted, there was no need for higher denominations of Jamaican coinage.
The pennies and half-pennies minted in 1869 constitute the first truly Jamaican coins. In 1880, the range of denominations was extended when a farthing was introduced. In 1937, when the worn coins were being replaced, the metal content was changed to nickel-brass.