Black dog (coin)

A dog or a black dog was a coin in the Caribbean of Queen Anne of Great Britain, made of pewter or copper, typically worth 1½ pence or 172 of a dollar. The name comes from the negative connotations of the word "dog," as they came from debased silver coins,[1] and the dark color of those same debased coins.[2] Black dogs were also at times called "stampes" or "stampees", as they were typically the coins of other colonial powers—French coins worth 2 sous or, equivalently, 24 diniers—stamped to make them British currency.

A dog and a stampee were not necessarily of equal value. For example, the Spanish dollar was subdivided into bits, each worth 9 pence, 6 black dogs or 4 stampees. Before 1811, 1 dollar equalled 11 bits (making a dog 166 of a dollar and a stampee 144 of a dollar); after 1811, 1 dollar equalled 12 bits (making a dog 172 of a dollar and a stampee 148 of a dollar). In 1797, however, a "black dog" is equated with a "stampee".[3]

Mary Prince's narrative tells of slaves in Antigua buying a "dog's worth" of salted fish or pork on Sundays (the only day they could go to the market).[4]


  1. ^ "Black dog", definition 1, Oxford English Dictionary.
  2. ^ "Modern Philology", Volume 13 By Modern Language Association of America. Victorian Literature Group. Page 603.
  3. ^ William Bullock in Naval Chronicle X 128, quoted in Oxford English Dictionary under "dog, n.1", definition 11.
  4. ^ The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. Related by Herself. With a Supplement by the Editor. London: Published by F. Westley and A. H. Davis, 1831. Page 16.