Obverse Design

The legend along the top says "UN DECIMO DE BALBOA" and has a five-point star on either side. This is the denomination and means "ONE TENTH OF A BALBOA". The word "DECIMO" is derived from the same root as "decimal" or "dime". The center of the coin has the bust of Vasco Nunez de Balboa wearing a morion helmet and corselet armor (typical equipment for a Spanish foot soldier of the time of Balboa). Under the bust of Balboa is the legend "CINCUENTENARIO" which means "Fiftieth Anniversary" referring to the separation from Colombia achieved in 1903. The coin has a smooth plain raised rim with no dentures or beads.

Reverse Design

The central design is the coat of arms of Panama. Panama's coat of arms is divided into two cantons at the top, two cantons at the bottom and a double wide canton in the center. The upper left canton is a crossed rifle and sword. It originally meant "Good bye forever to civil wars, cause of our ruin". In 1914 the meaning was changed to "Attitude of alertness in defense of our sovereignty." The upper right is a crossed hoe and shovel refering to the labor required to build the republic. The lower left is a cornucopia horn of plenty symbolizing richness and agriculture. The lower right has a wheel with wings symbolizing the speed of progress. The center canton shows land (the isthmus of Panama) between two oceans (the Atlantic and Pacific) with a sea level canal between the oceans. The sun is setting on the mountains in the west and the moon is rising over the waves in the east. This represents the solemn hour of Panama's declaration of independence from Columbia in 1903. An eagle with spread wings, wingtips going up, is standing on the shield which has the coat of arms. It holds a banner in its mouth which is draped along the upper edge of the shield. The banner has the latin motto "PRO MUNDI BENEFICIO" meaning "FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WORLD" and referring to the Panama Canal. Above the eagle are nine stars representing the nine provinces of Panamá. On either side of the center shield are two draped flags, which end in four flag tips under the shield.

The legend along the top says "REPUBLICA DE PANAMA" which means "REPUBLIC OF PANAMA". On the left in two lines is the legend "LEY 0.900" which refers to the fact that the coin is 900/1000 fineness by law. On the right in two lines is the legend "GR. 2.50" which refers to the weight of the coin which is 2.50 grams. The bottom of the coin has the date in the center with a wreath design on either side. The coin has a smooth plain raised rim with no dentures or beads.

Edge Design The coin edge is reeded.
Metal Silver alloy (90% silver, 10% copper). Weight 2.50 grams. Size and Shape Round, 18 mm in diameter.
Dates Issued and Mintage
Date Issued Regular Mintage Proof Mintage
1953 3,350,000 None.
Mint Casa de Moneda in México City, México. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's M-25, Contre Porras page 76, Grigore's #41, Stickney's P-17.

The decimos of 1930 through 1996 use the same design on both sides, and generally speaking are therefore all very similar to one another. The different varieties were generated by different mints and sculpturs concept of the basic design.

The Un Decimo of 1953 was minted at the Casa de Moneda in México City, México and involved a number of changes from the Noble design used from 1930 to 1947. In 1953 the font for the legends is different. Notably the modern letter "U" was used instead of the Roman "V". Five-point stars appear on either side of the denomination for the first time. The bust of Balboa has less high relief and a deeper design on the helmet, causing it to wear differently. The bust is smaller and stops short of the edge of the coin to allow room for the "CINCENTENARIO" legend.

On the reverse side, changes include the different font and modern letter "U" in "REPUBLICA". The coat of arms is very similar but the relief is flatter; the breast of the eagle does not develop a flat spot in the early stages of wear the way that it does in the 1930-1947 design. The date is smaller in size.

Availability The Un Decimo of 1953 is fairly common and available. However, the great silver meltdown of the 1960's and after took did take a toll on this coin. A lot of the circulated coins were melted down and those retained are frequently in AU or UNC condition.
Notes The Un Decimo of 1953 was authorized by Decree No. 337 of May 28, 1953.