Early coins were made of precious metals, with the value of the metal being equal to the face value of the coin. Since the value of the metal was key to its worth, no one thought twice about cutting a silver coin into pieces; a rather novel way of making change, one might say. This sliver of a silver dollar coin, eight Spanish reales (royals), was found during an excavation of the Fort Williams site on the Wabash River near its confluence with the Ohio River. A Spanish piece of eight was one-eighth of the eight reales coin.
These fragments were discovered during an investigation of a well that had been filled in at the Williams Fort site in southeastern Illinois. The site was the location of a farmstead occupied by the family of Aaron and Tabitha Williams from about 1811-1838. To defend against the possibility of attack by Native Americans during the War of 1812, a stockade was constructed. A tavern was operated at the site in the years following the war.