I actually think they meant potatoes.
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I suspect they meant pistoles - Spanish currency.
An interesting precursor to Richard John's literature review in the current JER on the historiography of the state in our period is his "Rethinking American Political History" posted as a reply to James Banner's review of Brown's Strength of a People, 20 years ago in April 1998. You can link to the post
I'm working on colonial and early republic advertisements for runaway servants and apprentices in New Hampshire. Most of the subsribers offered a reward for the return of their servants or apprentices, ranging from one penny to ten or even forty dollars. However, I've also encountered at least a half dozen instances where the reward offered was "1 Spanish Potato" or "3 Spanish Potatoes" (the earliest occuring in 1775, the latest 1815).