Can anyone explain to me what the phrase "Nine Pieces of Eight" means? I understand that it took 9 pirate lords to bind Calypso, and the movie also shows the 9 pieces. However, what is this statement? What does it mean? Why is this important?
It’s a Spanish silver coin worth 8 Spanish reales. So the 9 pirates would break the coin (worth 8) into 9 pieces. One piece of the coin for each of the 9 pirates. So basically 9 pieces of a coin worth 8 of it’s face value.
In the movie, the crew/swabbies were confused because it wasn’t a coin, instead it was items or junk. It is explained when they collect the pieces, the plan was to use 9 pieces of 8 (silver coin), but when the Brethren court met they were, well, broke! So they improvised;
“Nine pieces of whatever we happen to have in our pockets at the time!”
To which the swabbies answered:
“Oh yes, that sounds very piratey.”
Watch it again you’ll get it when he explains it to the crew. They just never explained that the 9 of 8 was pieces of a coin.
A piece of eight is currency, specifically the Spanish dollar which was a piece of silver worth eight reales.
Spanish silver dollars could be split, scored, into 8 pieces to make change and when done so each eighth was worth 1 reale, hence why a Spanish dollar was called a "piece of eight". It seems strange to us now since we no longer break up our money to make change but back in the day this was not an unheard of practice.