Text "C of N" on a postal numismatic cover surrounded by coins and tokens. See "About" page for list.

Coin of Note

Knowledge, one coin at a time.

Saint Eligius, pray for us

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.

Generic selectors

Exact matches only

Search in title

Search in content

Post Type Selectors

The denomination within the circle, date below Script: Latin Lettering: REPUBLICA DOS ESTADOS UNIDOS DO BRASIL 400 RÉIS * 1922 * Translation: Republic of the United States of Brazil 400 Réis 1922

1920 Brazil 400 Réis

An interesting denomination and female personification of Liberty

This is my entry for Day 2 “B” of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge!
B = Brazil.

2010 - 2024 2024 (larger with A Z on top) Blogging from A - Z April Challenge a-to-zChallenge.com


The denomination within the circle, date below

Script: Latin

* 1922 *

Republic of the United States of Brazil

We’ve previously looked at the 1835 Brazil 40 Réis (which was countermarked on an 80 Réis). At the time that coin was issued, Brazil had only recently achieved independence from Portugal, to become a monarchy themselves. A young Pedro II was Emperor. Fifty-years later, however, the winds of change were blowing. In 1889, the military staged a coup and proclaimed Brazil a republic. Pedro II (who was still monarch) abdicated and went into exile in Europe. Between 1888 and 1922 a period of change and accelerated modernisation ensued, described as the emergence of the “New Brazil”. Towards the end of this period, in 1920, this 400 Réis coin was minted.

The obverse featured solely text: REPUBLICA DOS ESTADOS UNIDOS DO BRASIL around the outside, the value 400 and RÉIS in the centre, and the year 1920 at the bottom. The text around the outside is in Brazilian Portuguese. It translates as “Republic of the United States of Brazil”. The first thing it reminds me of is the wording of Mexican coins, which read “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” which is Spanish for “United States of Mexico” (The place we call the USA is not the only “United States”!)

I do also like interesting fonts, so I am a big fan of the style of the 4 in 400 on this piece.


Portrait of Liberty facing right with stars around the rim

As a fan of fonts, however, there are none to admire on the reverse, but it is perhaps all the more striking for all that. If you learn nothing else from my blog, you’ll probably learn the word “Anepigraphic” (Without legend or inscription). In contrast to my previous assertion about fonts, I also really like anepigraphic coins. So the image on this side of the coin is Lady Liberty, facing right, wearing a “Phrygian” liberty cap, with a border of 21 stars. When the first republic of Brazil was declared in 1889, there were 21 states, hence, one star for each state. The 1889 flag of Brazil also has 21 stars on it. (Hat tip to Tom, the Blind Coin Collector for pointing me in the right direction on this!)

Lady Liberty has a long history with republics, and with coins. In Ancient Rome, Libertas was the female personification of liberty and personal freedom. Roman Coins featuring Libertas go back to (as indicated in the link), the time of Julius Caesar. Many other nations use similar symbolism. Marianne is the French symbol of the Republic. The United States of America has the Statue of Liberty. In fact, there are actually multiple “statues of liberty” around the world. Brazil has one of the few replicas that was actually made by the original designer.

There haven’t been many coins with the denomination of “400”. Those that have been created primarily come from Portugal, and Portuguese territories (or former territories in this case). 400 Réis equalled 1 Cruzado in Portugal and territories, with the last issue of this value in 1942 in Brazil.

A bonus extra piece: One of my other favourite Brazilian 400 Réis coins was issued while this piece was being minted. A circulating commemorative, issued in 1932 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Portuguese colonisation of Brazil, this coin features the Cross of the Order of Christ common to many Portuguese and especially Portuguese colonial coins:

400th Anniversary of Colonization Reverse: Lusinian Cross Script: Latin Lettering: 400 RÉIS Engraver: Basílio Nunes Obverse: Map divides dates within circle. Script: Latin Lettering: IV·CENTENARIO·DA·COLONIZAÇÃO·DO 1532 1932 ·BRASIL· Engraver: Walter Toledo

What do you think is the most interesting denomination which is perhaps used elsewhere in the world, or was common historically? Share your thoughts below.

The denomination within the circle, date below Script: Latin Lettering: REPUBLICA DOS ESTADOS UNIDOS DO BRASIL 400 RÉIS * 1922 * Translation: Republic of the United States of Brazil 400 Réis 1922





4 responses to “1920 Brazil 400 Réis”

  1. Tarkabarka Avatar

    I am learning so much from your posts 🙂
    My favorite denomination was the 2 dollar bill in the US. Mostly because every time someone showed me one, they were always so excited to explain it to me 🙂

    The Multicolored Diary

    1. Q Avatar

      The USA $2 bill is such a fascinating denomination. There is a whole documentary and book on that bill: https://2dollarbillmovie.com/

      I haven’t covered one on here – I should! But I did do an interesting $1 bill recently: https://coinofnote.com/2013-usa-wheresgeorge-1-bill/

  2. Carrie-Anne Avatar

    That’s a really nice coin. I don’t think I’m familiar with any South American coins. Outside of American currency, I only have coins from the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Israel in my current collection.

    1. Q Avatar

      South America have some great coins, but they don’t always feature the most prominently. I try to share a little from all around the world, and, as in this case, to learn more myself as I am sharing with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.