On November 15, the Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda (or INCM) issued the latest coin in their popular series entitled “Ethnographic Treasures,” which focuses on the country’s rich historical and cultural treasures and national traditions. The latest coin in the series features the town of Barcelos, which is located in the northern part of Portugal. Originally a Roman settlement, Barcelos expanded and became the seat of the first Duke of Bragança from the 15th century. This noble family were proclaimed sovereigns to the Portuguese throne in 1640 with the accession of Joao IV; they continued to hold the throne until 1910, when King Manuel II was deposed. The palace of the dukes of Bragança was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 and is now an open-air museum.
Aside from the colorful pottery that has emerged from its creative and talented craftsmen over the centuries, curiously, Barcelos is not wholly known for this royal distinction. A more memorable or renowned tale has emerged from Barcelos, and this colloquial legend has well and truly put the town and region on the map. Most tourists know Barcelos as the home of the Galo de Barcelos. Now, why is this colorful cockerel symbol still so synonymous with this town? According to the 17th-century legend, a Christian pilgrim on his way to Santiago de Compostela was seeking food and water in Barcelos but was accused of stealing said food and water from a wealthy landowner. Despite his protests of innocence during his hearing, the pilgrim was sentenced to death by hanging. In a last-minute appeal to the judge, who at the time was enjoying a roasted rooster for dinner, the pilgrim exclaimed, “If I am innocent, then that rooster will get up and crow!” Suddenly, a gorgeous, scarlet-plumed cockerel came to life, rose from the plate, and did indeed get up and crow loudly. Needless to say, the man was acquitted, and the rest is history—or legend.
This unique story is quintessentially part of this town’s folklore, and today many of its shops and streets are decorated with colorful ceramic roosters—which, in addition to recalling the legend, are also considered symbols of good luck, and often signify a place of hospitality where one can enjoy a leisurely and hearty meal or a slow cup of strong coffee.
The latest coin in this series is designed by artist Baiba Sïme and pays tribute to both the famed pottery and the Cockerel of Barcelos. The obverse motif depicts mythical beasts that are often found on the local decorative pottery and that symbolize imaginary or horned underworld characters. The words FIGURADO DE BARCELOS and the denomination are placed above the figures.
The reverse appropriately depicts a circle of cockerels cleverly surrounding the country’s national coat of arms. PORTUGAL and the year of issue surround the circle of cockerels, with the numbers of the year alternating places with letters in the word.
|2.50 €uro||Cupro-nickel||10 g||28 mm||Brilliant Unc.||75,000|
|2.50 €uro||.925 silver||12.5 g||28 mm||Proof||3,000|
|2.50 €uro||.999 gold||15.55 g||28 mm||Proof||2,500|
The coin is issued in three metals and in two qualities. The Brilliant Uncirculated coin is issued in cupo-nickel, while the Proof editions are issued in both silver and gold. All three coins share the same denomination, €2.50. For more information on these and other coins issued by the INCM, please visit their website. International orders dispatched where applicable.