The Untold Story of Tlacos and the Birth of a Colonial Economy

Tlacos, a local currency in New Spain, caused chaos as shopkeepers refused them from other businesses. The Court of Faithful Execution pleaded with the Viceroy to regulate tlacos for a stable economy, urging shopkeepers to accept them across industries.

The Untold Story of Tlacos and the Birth of a Colonial Economy
Don Juan Gallo, a frustrated baker, faces rejection as a shopkeeper refuses his tlacos.

In New Spain, the lack of effective regulation in the acceptance of tlacos, currencies issued by shopkeepers and business owners, generated problems in commercial exchange. The merchants were not obliged to accept them; therefore, disagreements constantly arose, such is the case of the baker Don Juan Gallo, who asked the Court of the Faithful Execution to hear the case, in response, he issued a Superior Official Letter and ordered the creation of a file, urging shopkeepers to accept tlacos from various sources to promote local economic stability.

In New Spain, the exchange of tlacos was not regulated, which caused inconveniences, disagreements, and conflicts between merchants, since the various supply branches, such as shopkeepers, sailmakers, bacon makers, bakers, among others, did not accept tlacos from businesses apart from their own could affect income.

The exchange of tlacos, which were currencies issued and distributed by shopkeepers and business or property owners, represented a problem because there was no obligation to accept them and shopkeepers, on many occasions, only accepted those from their same commercial branch.

For this reason, the Court of Faithful Execution frequently received complaints about the way business owners interfered in the local economy. For example, the baker Don Juan Gallo was in disagreement because the shopkeepers refused to give him tlacos and to receive those from the exchange in his business. In response to this injustice, it was reported that the case should be addressed with a hearing of the interested parties to formalize the file of the situation that occurred between the shopkeepers and bakers.

The document stated that they did not want to receive their coins, and they excused themselves not to participate in the exchange. The Court of Faithful Execution sent a Superior Official Letter to the Viceroy to inform him of this problem, pointing out that it was not an isolated case, but rather that it occurred with multiple people in charge of supplying the city, such as candle shops and confectioneries, who suffered from it as well. Therefore, they requested that it be attended to so that a solution could be found through the intervention of the crown. In addition, it was mentioned that many benefits would be obtained if the viceroy could resolve the situation, since the Court considered that it was fundamental for the effective distribution of coins.

Upon receiving the information, the viceroy learned of the issues among the merchants, so he asked the Court that the shopkeepers' tlacos be extended to other branches of commerce and that agreements be subsequently created between the owners of the different businesses so that, at the time, the deputies of the common, trustee, treasurer, and attorney general were informed, with which they would determine what was convenient for all those involved in the problem.

Full Citation: Archivo General de la Nación. “Justicia por el panadero Don Juan Gallo.”, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.