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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

10) The travels of a Mexican silver peso 1898 ; restruck in 1949

10) Un Peso (one peso) ,silver , 1898-1908, restruck in 1949 for the Chinese Nationalist Government:

This is a very large, 'bold and beautiful' silver coin, and is quite popular among International   collectors.

Around 1898, when Mexico was undergoing a political transformation from a Republic (Republica Mexicana) to a United States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), this coin was minted at the Mexico City mint (mint mark MO). In 1898, these silver pesos  were being produced at  four mints viz. Mexico City (mint mark ‘MO’), Culiacan (mint mark ‘CN’) , Guanajuato (mint mark ‘GO’), and Zacatecas (mint mark ‘ZS’), and their production continued till 1909.  These coins are considered to be more valuable than coins from the United States of Mexico.
There is some confusion as to which side is the “Obverse” and which one is the “Reverse “ between various catalogues of World Coins published by various authorities including  the leading authority,  Krause and Mishler  (various catalogue numbers given to World coins by them are popularly known as “KM” numbers).
Krause & Mishler, mention the "obverse" as the side with the Mexican eagle national emblem,and the "reverse" as the other side, for these coins the side with the liberty cap, whereas, other authorities  have given this coin  the conventional obverse "heads" (Liberty Cap) and reverse "tails" (Eagle) definitions.
 The normal practice for identifying the obverse side  is, that, the side on which the coin issuing country's National emblem is engraved, that side is taken as the obverse side. Therefore, I am inclined to go with the Krause & Mishler version, because of this reason.

One side of the coin has the Mexican Eagle National Emblem where the Eagle is holding  a snake in it’s beak  which it has seized apparently from the cactus- like  plant below , there  are two  laurels at the base of the design ,  and the words “Republica Mexicana “  (Republic of Mexico) around the top of the coin.  

The other  side of the coin shows  a starburst  with a  'Liberty Cap' in front of the starburst with the word “LIBERTAD” or “LIBERTY” written across the face of the cap. The Liberty cap design is an old one and was used on quite a few Latin American coins as well as some old USA coins and European coins. The French Revolutionaries of  the Eighteenth century Revolution (that saw Napolean Bonaparte , a soldier from the ranks, become Emperor of France),  wore similar caps and the style/design was probably inspired from the days of the French Revolution.  Below the Liberty Cap are the words “UN PESO.Mo.1898.A.M. 902.7 “. At first, I had got very confused regarding the meaning of this terminology and whether 1898 was the year of minting of this coin, but now the details of this coin have become very clear to me.  “ Un Peso” means “one Peso”, “Mo”  is the mint mark of  Mexico city mint where this coin has been minted and “A.M.902.7” is the Assayer Company’s and batch certification of the silver content of this coin ( Weight of the coin is normally 27.05 gms) .
Notice that the “o” in “Mo” in my coin given here , is much smaller than the letter “M” . This is because, this coin is not an original strike from Mexico city mint in 1898. It has actually been re-struck in 1949 for the Republic of China.
What a pity, that this coin is not an originally minted coin from 1898 in which strikes, the mint mark “MO” was given in capital letters. The mint mark was changed to a small “o” after the capital letter “M” and the “o” is placed somewhat higher than the capital “M”, as in my coin given here, to differentiate the 1949 restrikes from the original ones. Nevertheless, the following narration adds a kind of romantic tale to the “travels” of this coin.

This peso’s story:
In 1949, the Mexico city and the San Francisco(USA) mints brought out about  restrikes of the original Mexican peso struck in 1898 for  Chiang Kai –shek’s Nationalist Government in China , which was fighting the Communist forces , who controlled a very large part of China around this time. These silver coins were meant to be disbursed as salaries to the Nationalist Government soldiers fighting the Communists, their average salaries being very small, and not more than a few silver dollars. About 25,00,000 of these pesos arrived in China by ship, at about the time that  the Nationalist Government’s leaders fled to Taiwan as China was overrun by  Communists, and while fleeing took most of these coins with them, while quite a few fell in Communist hands.  As the contract with the Nationalist Government was subsequently rendered defunct, the San Franciso restrikes of about 20.00 lac pesos never left the mint and were probably melted.  It was later discovered by Mexican Authorities that the Mexican Monetary  Law of 1905 did not permit restriking of these pesos in any form , including for exports to other countries, so almost half the number of the restrikes minted, did not leave the Mexican mint vaults.
The coin in my collection appears to have been circulated, as such, I presume, that it must have been paid as “salary” to some  Nationalist  Government soldier,  and  somehow found it’s way to Indian coin dealers. I found this coin in a coin album which was being sold in a bookstore, and  got curious about it’s unusually large size and bought it for my collection.

These large silver coins are valued at about $ 15 for worn ones to about $ 125 for fully uncirculated ones for the originals, while the restrikes sell for much lesser, their “romantic/sentimental” value being  the overriding  factor.


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  2. Superb narration... what a tale! Funny why they did not create a separate design for this coin as it was never intended to circulate in Mexico?

    1. Thank you Rahul. This is because the Mexican and Spanish silver coins were extremely popular all over China including in Hong Kong & Macau which were British/Portuguese Colonies. As such, the Chinese were familiar with the designs on these coins.

  3. I have un peso 1898. Its worth to sell ?

  4. Replies
    1. Hello Al-TaMIMI liFe,
      Thank you for visiting the blog and for leaving a comment. Selling or keeping the Un Peso coin would be entirely your personal choice/decision. If you are getting an extremely good price for it, then you could consider the option to sell it, otherwise it denotes a very important part of history, so it would also be a good idea to have it in your collection. In any case you could visit an auction site like ebay and check out the latest prices being asked for by sellers and then take a view/decision in the matter.

  5. can i sell my un peso Mo1898 am 902.7

  6. This is absolutely exceptional. Even though variety of article on this topic, this article carries a number of the treasured points which had been never be read in other articles.

  7. Just acquired one of these and wondered of the actual weight in grams or troy ozes and % silver content. I only intended on buying bullion. Thank-you for a superb article!

    1. Thank you so much for visiting the blog and your appreciative comment.