In 1902 a bill was signed by the President Theodore Roosevelt authorizing a new and distinct coinage to be struck for use in the United States Territory. The designs were to signify the United States absorption and sovereignty over the newly established territory, the Islands of the Philippines, a former Spanish colony.
After a number of artists had submitted sketches and models for consideration, three designs were accepted, all from a young Filipino residing in California and a native of Quezon, in the name of Melecio Figueroa. Only one model was selected as a common design for use on all of the coinage. It depicted an eagle with spread wings perched was placed above an American shield. “United States of America” was placed above the date place at the center on the bottom. Two of Figueroas designs were chosen for use on the reverses. One design shows a young Filipino male seated next to an anvil and holding a hammer in his right hand, his left arm raised. In the background to his left is a billowing Mayon volcano.
His second design was used for all of the silver issues of the 10 centavos to the Peso. The design shows a young Filipina in a flowing dress standing to her right ankle while striking an anvil with a hammer held in her right hand, her left arm is half raised and she holds an olive branch in her hand. In the background is the Mayon volcano once again with a billowing smoke coming from the crater. The denomination appears above and “Filipinas” is below as on the previous example.
These designs remain unchanged from 1903 to 1936. In 1937 the obverse design was changed to reflect the new status of the Philippines as a Commonwealth of the United States, a year after the Manila Mint, the only Mint built and operated by the United States outside the mainland. Prior to the regular issue, a one-year type dating 1936, which depicted the same, obverse type were issued in limited number. It featured the busts of President Murphy and Quezon and the other version with President Roosevelt and Quezon. Both were issued on two denominations, the fifty centavos and the one peso.
A smaller eagle was used, now perched atop a smaller shield with the banner below it which is inscribed “Commonwealth of the Philippines.”
The shield used was adoption of the design used for the official seal of “The Government of the Philippine Islands” which had appeared on the Philippine paper money starting in 1905. This design continued to be used until 1946 after which the Philippines became an independent Republic. With the exemption of those issued from 1944 to 1945 issues which were all minted in Denver and San Francisco, the 1946 issue never reached circulation since the Independence of the Philippines was declared on July 04, 1946. Presumably, all of the coins were melted. No surviving specimen was reported up to this date.
During the 43 years history of U.S. Philippines coinage, four different mints were employed in their manufacture. Mint marks are found to the left of the date under a dot on the 1903 to 1936 series. From 1937 to 1945 the position is the same with the exception that there were no dots.
All the dies were manufactured at the Philadelphia Mint with Mintmarks being added for the appropriate branch as the standard for all United States manufactured and produced coins.
“S” – stands for San Francisco Mint
“D” – stands for Denver Mint
“M” – stands for Manila Mint with the exemption of coins issued between 1920 to 1922 which have no Mint marks
No Mint Mark – Philadelpia Mint
Three different styles of the “M” Mint-mark were used at different times at the Manila Mint. The first was well-formed block style M with the serifs at the top and the bottom of the uprights. The second style is a plane M with thin uprights and angle. The second style which was only a few times, resembled an upside down W.
One of the considerable changes in the Philippine coins occurred during the implementation of the Pittman Act, where the United States Treasury reclaimed and melted silver and gold coins. Thus from 1903 up to 1906 and 1907 to 1912, not only that the size of the ten centavos to one peso coins were reduced but its contents otherwise. The first series was composed of 90% silver and 10% copper while the second series was lowered to 75% silver and 25% copper.