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  • Dutch History Outline
  • Rix Dollar Coins

    The Rix Dollar and Silver Rider: Introduction

    For a listing of the various locations and minting periods for coins discussed in this section click here. The listing was compiled by Kenneth J.E. Berger of San Diego, CA in December of 1998.

    Although not as prominent as the lion dollar, the ducatoon (or silver rider) and the rix dollar were often encountered in Seventeenth century colonial America. They were regularly used in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and spread outward as Dutch trade with other colonies increased. On September 27, 1642 the Massachusetts General Court decreed that due to the frequency of trade with the Dutch colony they were establishing a standard rate of exchange for the ducatoon and rix dollar; the ducatoon would pass at a value of 6 shillings and the rix dollar would be put on par with the Spanish eight reales at a value of 5 shillings. Similarly, in 1686 the colony of Maryland standardized the ducatoon at 7s6d and put the rix dollar on par with the French écu and the Spanish eight reales at a value of 6 shillings.

    A large silver coin called a ducatone was first minted in the Spanish Netherlands, in Brabant and Tournai, in 1618 and continued to be produced throughout the century. The coin contained 501.23 grains of .944 fine silver, valued at 60 sols (which was equivalent to three guilders or 60 stuivers), and contained a a bust of the ruler on the obverse and the royal heraldic shield on the reverse. From 1659 through 1794 a coin of similar size and value was minted in each of the seven northern United Provinces (what we call the Netherlands). The Dutch coin, known as a Dukaton, was slightly heavier at 505.86 grains but with slightly less pure silver at .941 fineness. This Dukaton of Zilveren Rijder was called a "silver rider" in the American colonies, as the obverse depicted an soldier in full armor wielding a sword on horseback with the provincial heraldic shield below while on the reverse was the crowned arms of the United Netherlands held up by two crowned lions. In the colonies this coin was referred to as a ducatoon and became the predominant coin of the Dutch East Indies during the Eighteenth century.

    The Nederlandse Rijksdaalder, known in the colonies as the "rix dollar," was actually a variety of different coins each averaging about 448 grains in weight of .885 fine silver. These coins were independently minted by individual cities or provinces in the United Netherlands and passed at a value of two and a half guilders (50 stuivers). Usually the obverse of the coin had a half portrait of the ruler (often with a drawn sword) while the reverse displayed an heraldic shield. Additionally, several German and Scandinavian cities minted similar coins, known as thalers in their native areas but called "rix dollars of the Empire" by the English. The "Empire" refers to the loose confederation of German states know jointly as the Holy Roman Empire. In 1702 Isaac Newton assayed thirteen different rix dollars from German cities and found they averaged 441.96 grains at .886 fine silver, which was about the same as the Dutch coins. It appears all of these various coins were called rix dollars in the American colonies.

    Starting in the 1650's and continuing throughout 1795 another silver coin was produced, a slightly smaller silver ducat of 28.25 grams at .873 fine silver valued at 48 stuivers. This coin was sometimes used in the American colonies where it passed at the same rate as the rix dollar and was know as the "leg dollar." The obverse depicted a standing soldier in full armor with a sword in his right hand. In his left hand the soldier held straps that were attached to the crowned provincial shield which was displayed in front of him. The shield completely obscured the soldier's left leg so the picture looked like a soldier with one leg, hence the name "leg dollar." The reverse displayed the crowned arms of the United Netherlands.

    Although not as widespread as Spanish silver or the lion dollar, the silver rider ducatoon and various rix dollars were certainly familiar in the colonies throughout the Seventeenth and into the early Eighteenth century, with the leg dollar seeing some limited circulation during the Eighteenth century.


    See: Mossman, pp. 63-67.

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    Section Contents The Silver Rider and Rix Dollar

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