This exhibition is aimed to explore the history of the revolutionary process that began in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1810 and led to the Argentine Declaration of Independence from the Spanish crown in 1816. Visitors will further have the chance to learn about the need of the newly born nation to develop its own government system. Within this context, two adversary political parties designed entirely distinct country projects to gain control of the port: the Unitarian model (based on a centralized government in Buenos Aires), and the Federal model (which sought the autonomy of provinces).
The first patriotic coins minted in 1813 and 1815 in Potosí—former Alto Perú and present Bolivia—are on display. After the patriot declaration of May 25, 1810, the First Governmental Council sent expeditions to the north of the former viceroyalty in order to legitimize the revolution that had taken place in Buenos Aires and to seize the only Mint. As a result of losing Alto Perú and, consequently, the Mint in Potosí, some pioneering provinces started to develop "Provincial Issuances" consisting of metal coins and customs debentures, while others resorted to using some provinces' low quality currencies.
Regarding "money issuance of Buenos Aires", it was under the charge of Banco de Buenos Ayres from 1822 to 1826. This bank—founded in 1822 during the presidency of Martín Rodríguez and known as “Banco de Descuentos” (Discounts Bank)—was a privately and publicly-owned corporation aimed to promote trade. It was managed by the merchant bourgeoisie from Buenos Aires and some merchants from the United Kingdom. For this reason, the provinces interpreted Buenos Aires’ money issuance as a sign of dominance and were usually inclined to reject its currency. The increase in the cost of living resulting from the bank’s profuse money issuance, financial speculation, and banknote counterfeiting greatly undermined its functioning. All this, together with the bank's lack of equity, triggered its bankruptcy.
The bank called Banco de las Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata or Banco Nacional (1826–1836) was founded upon the first loan obtained by our country from a foreign company. The agreement was signed by Minister Bernardino Rivadavia and Baring Brothers (an English partnership). During Bernardino Rivadavia’s presidency (1826–1827), the bank was a privately and publicly-owned corporation whose aim was to standardize currency throughout the country. The bank failed to achieve this objective because the provinces refused to comply with the economic policy established by Buenos Aires. The economic difficulties posed by the War against Brazil (1825–1828) worsened the situation.
The “Junta de Administración de Papel de Moneda y de la Casa de Moneda Metálica” (Management Board of Paper Money and Mint) (1836–1853) was founded by General Juan Manuel de Rosas after dissolving Banco Nacional. He then stated that the Government would back currency and that such board would replace the bank so dissolved. The board would further be entitled to manage the bank's equity, hire its employees and occupy its buildings. In 1853, it turned into "Banco y Casa de Moneda" (bank and mint house).
Banco Hipotecario de las Provincias Ligadas del Norte (1840–1841) was founded by the Coalition of the North (La Rioja, Tucumán, Jujuy, Salta and Catamarca)—on the basis of an alliance against Rosas—in order to issue different denomination banknotes backed by the provinces’ properties. In 1841, the Coalition was defeated, the bank was dissolved, and the holders of such banknotes were compensated many years after General Rosas’s fall in 1852. Banco Nacional de la Confederación (1854–1855), located in the city of Paraná, was proposed by the Minister of Economy Mariano Fragueiro as the regional supplier of currency. This bank issued public debt-backed banknotes, commonly called “Fragueiro’s paper money”, which were soon depreciated in the market and rejected by the public. The bank was closed in 1855.
The legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires founded Banco y Casa de Moneda (1854–1863) after the defeat of General Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1852, who had developed a bank structure for the former mint. The newly structured body issued banknotes on behalf of the Province of Buenos Aires.