Moidore was a term used to describe gold coins of Portuguese origin, namely those with a facial value of "4000 réis", the Portuguese Coat of Arms in its obverse, and the Order of Christ Cross in its reverse. These "4000 réis" gold coins were minted from 1677 to as late as 1910, mainly in Brazil (part of the Portuguese Empire until 1822), Portugal and Mozambique (a Portuguese overseas colony until 1975).
Since the Portuguese empire spread throughout a vast number of territories that are now parts of 53 different sovereign states, the moidore was used as currency not only in those regions but also in other regions of the globe, such as Western Europe and the West Indies. The currencies of several Arabic countries are named rial or riyal after the Portuguese real.
The name moidore is a loanword from the Portuguese expression "moeda d’ouro”, literally meaning “gold coin”.
The first reference to moidores in an English novel is to be found in Robinson Crusoe (1719) in the penultimate chapter concerning his return to England.
There is reference to the moidore in the John Masefield poem "Cargoes":
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
There is also reference to the moidore in the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift: "He, who apprehended I could not live a month, was ready enough to part with me, and demanded a thousand pieces of gold, which were ordered him on the spot, each piece being about the bigness of eight hundred moidores ..."
Additionally, there is at least one reference in Melville's Moby Dick: "I have seen doubloons now before in my voyagings; your doubloons of old Spain; your doubloons of Peru, your doubloons of Chili, your doubloons of Bolivia, your doubloons of Popayan; with plenty of gold moidores and pistoles, and joes, and half joes, and quarter joes."
Moidores are mentioned in the ninth chapter of Voltaire's Candide: "... My Lady has moidores and diamonds ..."
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four, Small wonders "how my folk would stare when they saw their ne'er-do-well coming back with his pockets full of gold moidores" when justifying his decision to help end Achmet's life for the treasure he carried.
- Lamb, Charles Essay of Elia. London : Blackie & Son. p. 182
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