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Inverted anchor cross. A cross with slightly widened ends, with two anchor flukes coming out of the top and curving left and right, also with slightly widened ends.

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Radiating sun over 3 volcanoes, with date at bottom. Script: Latin Lettering: 1900 H

1901 Guatemala 1/4 Real

A little coin with a sharp image


Radiating sun over 3 volcanoes, with date at bottom.

Script: Latin


Guatemala is located in Central America. Bordered to the north and west by Mexico, north-east by Belize and the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea), then, Honduras, and El Salvador south-east and the Pacific ocean to the south.

Guatemala is crossed by a large chain of volcanoes. Between Mexico in the north and the neighbors to the south (Honduras & Salvador), there are no less than 300 volcanic structures, of which 37 are recognized as volcanoes. Three of them are active today, although five others are still considered active. Guatemala is in the “Ring of fire”, a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Its length is approximately 40,000 kilometers (24,900 miles). Seventy-five percent of Earth’s volcanoes—more than 450 volcanoes—are located along the Ring of Fire. Ninety percent of Earth’s earthquakes occur along its path, including the planet’s most violent and dramatic seismic events.

So it is no surprise volcanos might feature on a coin from the country. The 1/4 real coin was issued up until 1901, and 11 variants from 1872 – 1901 all feature a similar design of the sun over three volcanoes. While there are quite a few other Guatemalan coins showing volcanoes, I’ll also give a special mention to the Carlos III Proclamation coins, which feature a horse and rider above (jumping?) two volcanoes!

The “H” under the date on the coin denotes Heaton and Sons mint in Birmingham. Heaton and Sons produced a number of coins for Guatemala between 1894 – 1912.


Reverse Value and material within wreath, with 5 stars under it. Script: Latin Lettering: 1/4 REAL NIQUEL ***** Translation: 1/4 Real Nickel

The reverse features the denomination and the word Niquel surrounded by a wreath, with five stars below. Niquel (Spanish for “nickel”) indicates the composition of the coin (in fact it is copper-nickel with 75% copper and 25% nickel). Aside from several “Un Centavo” coins, the 1/4, 1/2 and 1 Real coins produced from 1901 were the first baes metal coins produced. There were 100 Centavos in a Peso. There were also 8 Reales in a Peso, so 1 Real was worth 12 1/2 Centavos; this 1/4 Real coin was worth 3.125 Centavos.

History of Guatemala

Probably not hard to guess then, that Guatemala, like much of Central America, was a Spanish colony. Some of today’s brief history of Guatemala comes from the Cayaya-Birding.com website. While this seems fascinating, I love that those of us with such disparate hobbies can find common interests and share information. Hello to all the bird watchers out there!

The Mayan civilisation covered southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and western Honduras. Early civilisation began around 2,000 B.C. and continued through to the Spanish conquest of Guatemala in 1524. One of the most advanced civilisations, the Mayans had a complex writing system, on paper, stone and pottery. They had an advanced calendar based on exact astronomical observations. Their mathematics included the concept of zero.

The name Guatemala was derived from “Quauhtemallan”, which means ‘place of abundant flowers’ or from “Guauthemallan”, which means ‘place of trees’ in the Aztec Nahuatl language. This name was given by the Tlaxcaltecas who came with Pedro de Alvarado to conquer this land. During the colonial time the capital of Guatemala changed location many times due to natural disasters. The capital “Guatemala de la Asunción”, as it is today, was not named until 1776 after a severe earthquake which destroyed much of the previous capital, the city which is now Antigua Guatemala. The Tlaxcala were from further north, in Mexico, and helped the Spanish conquer their former adversaries.

Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821. The National Emblem (also central to the flag) features a crown of bay laurel branches, two crossed bayonets, and Remington rifles whose handles are on the bottom of the bay laurel wreath. On the center of the emblem is a parchment scroll which has the Spanish inscriptions “Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821” (Freedom September 15 th , 1821) written in gold color. Perched on top of the parchment scroll is a resplendent quetzal, the country’s national bird which has green body feathers and red breast feathers.

Since we mentioned birding earlier, lets finish with the national bird, the Resplendent Quetzal, from cayaya-birding.com:

Photos of various Quetzal, from top-left: adult female, juvenile in the nest entrance, adult male in the nest entrance and two larger images of adult males.  The juvenile and female birds have a darker green head and shorter tail.  The males have a very long tail, roughly three times longer than the bird's body.

Not only is the Quetzal the national bird, but since 1925, the Quetzal has also been the name of the currency. 1 Quetzal is divided into a hundred Centavos. Here is a 2006 Quetzal coin, featuring the National emblem with the bird prominently sitting on the declaration of independence:

Coat of arms with legend at top and date at bottom

Script: Latin

15 DE
DE 1821

Republic of Guatemala
15th of

This coin has been issued since 1999, although in 2013, the composition was changed from Nickel-Brass, to Brass-Plated Steel.

Radiating sun over 3 volcanoes, with date at bottom. Script: Latin Lettering: 1900 H





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