Obverse Design

The legend along the top says "VN DECIMO DE BALBOA" with little diamond-shaped separators between the words. The "V" is actually a Roman letter "U". 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). On one side of the bust are a laurel leaf wreath design and on the other an oak leaf wreath design. 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 "REPVBLICA 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
1962 5,000,000 None.
Mint Royal Mint in London, United Kingdom. Other Catalog Numbers Asociación Numismático's M-27, Grigore's #50, Stickney's P-16.

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 Vn Decimo of 1962 was minted at the Royal Mint in London. The sculptor used the Noble design of 1930-1947 as a guide and ended up with a result that was very close. However, some differences can be found. The easiest to note without a Vn Decimo of 1930-1947 to use for comparison is the diamond separators on the obverse. In the original design those diamond separator are elongated, with acute angles at either end. In the London variety, the diamond separators are more like squares seen diagonally, with right angles at either end. Other differences are seen in the details of the design. The lines are the same but are more defined. On the obverse this can be seen in the helmet design and the connecting piece between the shoulder and the chest armor of Balboa. Also you can see the individual hairs of Balboa's beard very clearly on the London variety. On the reverse the increased detail definition can be seen on the feathers of the eagle's breast and the fruit pouring out of the cornucopia. More significantly, the stars on the draped flags are quite a bit smaller on the London variety. On both sides of the coin, the wreaths on the London variety have more defined lines and detail.

Availability The Vn Decimo of 1962 is fairly common and available. However, the great silver meltdown of the 1960's took place not long after the coin was released. Circulated specimens are scarce; most of the specimens retained are in UNC or AU condition.