In the 1920s, special coins were minted specifically for use in three leper colonies run by the Colombian government, which were known as "lazarettos." Due to widespread misconceptions about leprosy, many believed it could be transmitted through money, and these coins were a way of protecting the general population from infection. In truth, leprosy requires prolonged exposure to an infected individual to contract.
Beyond health concerns though, there were strategic reasons for this distinct currency. For one, it curtailed inmates' ability to buy contraband like rum from the black market. Furthermore, by using currency that had no value outside these colonies, the government further isolated patients and made escape less appealing.
Though these lazarettos purportedly provided medical care, the treatment was harsh. Inhabitants were no longer seen as Colombian citizens but merely as residents of these colonies. By the 1950s, these leprosariums closed, and patients could exchange their unique coins for regular Colombian currency at banks.
These five centavo coins are composed of copper-nickel, and circulated within the lazarettos. To be clear, there is no risk of disease from touching them today!
All items include a Certificate of Authenticity.
Our original glass and leatherette display boxes showcase your relic above a custom information card, with a design unique to History Hoard.