Uruguay 5 Peso
Grade range: Uncirculated/Brilliant Uncirculated
Actual Gold Content: .2501 troy ounce
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Listed in The Standard Catalogue of World Gold Coins as the only coin of its design type and minted in 1930 only, the catalogue notes: "Only 14,415 were released. Remainder withheld." A hoard of roughly 80,000 coins (which comprised most of the remaining mintage) was released, rumor has it, by the Argentina Central Bank in 1998, and most of those coins were placed with private investors and collectors. Add it up and you'll quickly note that less than 100,000 total Uruguay 5 Pesos are known to exist, making them one of the most affordable true rarities in the gold market. These coins rarely surface, and only in very small quantities, usually made available when early owners of the Argentine hoard pare down their holdings. NGC places a sugested retail value of similar conditioned coins at $475 a piece.
It seems to be the sad legacy of many Latin American currencies to suffer "an endless death" at the inflationary hands of their official custodians. And so it has been with the fate of the Uruguayan peso during the latter half of the 20th century. Today, after a more or less continuous battle with inflation in Uruguay, doing the calculations with spot gold at $1000 per ounce, each physical 5 Pesos gold coin retains the same purchasing power as would currently require 4,800,000,000 of the original "old pesos" issued 75 years ago.
In 1930, the Uruguayan peso was of slightly greater value than the U.S. dollar. (Twenty U.S. dollars were "pegged" to the 0.9675 troy ounces of gold contained in the $20 double-eagle gold piece, whereas twenty Uruguayan pesos were "pegged" to the 1.0004 troy ounces of gold contained in four of these 5-peso facevalue coins.) As inflation took its toll, the New Peso was introduced in 1975 to replace the old peso at a rate of 1 NP for 1,000 old pesos. But alas, the New Peso also fell victim to these same inflationary trends, and was itself supplanted in turn at a rate of 1-for-1000 NP in March 1993 by the "newer" peso which circulates today (as of April 2010) at 19 pesos per U.S. dollar (a net plunge, effectively, from near parity to 19 million old pesos per dollar!)
Examination of this coin reveals the words Republica Oriental Del Uruguay (Oriental Republic of Uruguay). The designation "Oriental" in the official name of Uruguay refers to the country's location upon the eastern bank of the Uruguay River, which separates it from Argentina to the west. Comprised of a population exceeding 3.25 million largely derived from Spanish and Italian descent and occupying a landmass about the size of Oklahoma between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguayans, in fact, sometimes call themselves "Orientals."