Are you interested in buying or selling valuable Mexican coins?
Ancient Mexican coins are typically hard to find but can be worth a fortune. They also make an excellent addition to any collection due to their intrinsic cultural and historical value.
But, with so many coins to consider, you need to know what to look for to identify the most valuable Mexican coins.
We wrote this guide to help you know whether the Mexican coin you own or are looking to buy is worth any money. Read on for all the information you need to know about the most valuable Mexican coins.
A Brief History of Mexican Coins
The Mexican War of Independence lasted from 1810 to 1821. During this time, numerous mints created coins for the opponents and supporters of the Spanish monarch. Those in support of the Crown issued coins as far as Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Chihuahua and other colonies. Meanwhile, opponents minted coins in Puebla, Oaxaca, and Nueva Galicia.
When the Empire of Agustin de Iturbide came to power, it was solely responsible for minting and issuing coins. These early coins included ½, ¼, and 1/8 copper, 4 and 8 escudos struck in gold, 1,2 and 8 reales in silver.
These coins featured the Emperor’s portrait, date and the wording August(inus) Dei Prov(identia) on the obverse. The reverse design changed severally to include a golden eagle and a Mexican eagle at other times. Later, an image of the coat of arms of Mexico was included in the design.
The United Mexican States started issuing coins in 1824 after signing the constitution following independence from the Spanish. The new government established various mints nationwide to strike gold, silver and copper coins.
There was silver 1⁄2, 1, 2, 4 and 8 reales, and gold 1⁄2, 1, 2, 4 and 8 escudos, with silver 1⁄4 reales added in 1842. Copper coins for 1⁄16, 1⁄8 and 1⁄4 reales were issued by the Federal government at the Mexico City mint and by the state governments around the country.
The obverse of the new coin of the republic featured the eagle with the phrase Republica Mexican. On the reverse, you will notice the engraver’s initials and the date the coin was struck. During Maximillan’s short stint, production of coins for the new republic halted and by 1870, production had ceased completely. Only 8 reales were minted until 1897.
Let’s now explore some of the most valuable Mexican coins.
Most Valuable Mexican Coins Worth Money
The Pillar 8 Reales is one of the most valuable Mexican coins and among the most popular among collectors. The coin was first struck in 1732, the year the authority in charge authorized the minting of circular coins.
The year 1732 is important in Mexican numismatic history as it was the first time that the Pillar was struck. This early coin features a portrait of a Herculean crowned pillar and a set of globes with a crown in the background etched atop ocean waves.
The motto Ultraque Unum, meaning Both are One, appears around the coin’s edges.
On the reverse, you will spot Castile and Leon’s coat of arms with an embossed Bourbon shield. Number 8, initial F and the phrase Philip V.D.G. Hispan. Etd. Ind. Rex also appears on the reverse.
Pillar 8 Reales became legal tender in various Spanish colonies across the Americas and the United States for much of the 18th century.
A few examples of the 8 Reales exist today, and those in mint state are extremely rare. One that was auctioned in May 2008 had drawn much interest from collectors. It boasted attractive coloring and tone and was in good condition, selling for $86,250.
In 2016, yet another 8-reales struck in 1732 came up for sale. This one was graded MS63 and was of superior quality to the example auctioned in 2008.
Being in mint state, the Mexico 8-reales specimen had impressive luster and clean details, making it attractive to collectors willing to pay a fortune for this rare old coin.
Eventually, it sold for a whopping $130,000.
Only three known examples of the 8 Reales struck at the Zitacuaro mint exist. These examples were found in a shipwreck and were later put on auction.
A collector owns one example, while the second one was sold at a Heritage auction for $373,750. The last one is still on sale, estimated at $200,000 to $250,000. This last remaining piece is graded Extra Fine (EF) 40 by the Numismatic Guaranty Company.
This coin is historically significant as it was struck during the War of Independence. The existing examples are all of a lower grade with no luster nor frost and a significantly flattened design on the obverse and reverse.
This example, graded About Uncirculated (AU)55, is among the most valuable Mexican coins. Known to be the only existing of its kind today, it fetched an impressive $63,250 at a 2008 auction.
Generally, Type I coins have a superior strike than Type II. But Type II Mexican reales from 1823 are scarcer, making them more valuable.
This specific example was struck two years after the country gained independence from its Spanish colonizer.
The 8- Escudo was the first gold coin made for the newly independent country at the Mexico City Mint. As a one-year issue, this coin became extremely rare and sought-after among collectors.
When a collector found an example, it was graded MS62 and considered an extremely rare find, ultimately selling for $48,300.
Considering how old these coins are, the Mexican 8-reales are the rarest of all the reales. Today, only one known example exists and was auctioned in 2008.
Graded Extremely Fine (XF) 45, the 1650 8 Reales is certainly not the brightest or most lustrous Mexican coin. Most of the coin’s details are visible but flattened with a lot of wear around the high points.
Still, this particular example is the finest struck that year and is known to exist, which explains why collectors show a lot of interest in this coin.
At the 2008 auction, the last remaining specimen of the 1650 8-reales went on sale for $92,000 and was successfully purchased.
This attractive gold chain was first struck in 1714 as a Royal coin. As a special coin that needed the monarch’s approval, it was struck on a specially chosen planchet and an equally high-quality die.
Probably struck to commemorate a special event, rumored to be Philip V, King of Spain and Elizabeth Farnese’s wedding.
The coin is rated an impressive MS65, which is considered gem quality. On the obverse, the coin spots a royal coat of arms while the coin’s value, VIII, equivalent to 8 Mexican escudos, is embossed on the lustrous fields. On the reverse, you will find a scepter, symbolizing a hig
One of the most valuable Mexican coins is also one of the oldest, believed to have been struck between 1598 and 1620.
Interestingly, these ancient Royal coins were struck on the highest-quality planchets of the day using the best dies available. Because they were different from regular currency, it is said that the Spanish monarch had to approve the dies before striking began.
On the obverse is the shield of Hapsburg, and on the reverse is the coat of arms of Castille and Leon. Graded About Uncirculated (AU), this Royal 8-realest is definitely a mark above other coins of its time and unsurprisingly sold for a neat $57,500 in a 2008 auction.
This silver peso specimen was struck during the Revolutionary era during the reign of Pancho de Villa. Those in the numismatic world believed this coin did not exist, so it was quite a surprise when it came up for auction.
The coin spots a Liberty cap on the obverse, while the reverse features a law book and scales, symbolizing justice.
The coin was graded MS62, given its superior luster, clean and visible design, and eye-catching toning. As the name suggests, this peso was struck on a silver planchet when standard Mexican currency was struck on gold plates.
This 1914 silver peso when on sale in 2008 and fetched an impressive $35,650.
The 1733 8-reales is a pillar coinage dated from the previous year. It features a mint mark MX to signify Mexico City, where it was struck. This coin stands out because, in 1973, the Mint placed the letters MX on silver coins only.
This coin came up for sale in 2008 selling and sold for $40,250, making it an excellent addition to any coin collection.
The Guerrero two pesos is also a Revolution coin, struck in 1915 at the peak of Mexico’s struggle for independence.
The obverse features an eagle perched on a cactus plant clutching a snake in its beak. On the reverse, you will find the image of a brilliant sun with a volcano in the background.
This specimen is extremely rare and draws much attention from collectors due to its plain edges. Another known example with plain edges is in Banco de Mexico’s possession.
The specimen was graded AU55, with slight but visible wear at the high points. Numismatic professionals consider this specimen superior to the one held by the bank.
It came up for sale in 2008, eventually selling for $48,300.
This example features a Liberty cap and sun rays in the background on the obverse. The reverse features an image of an eagle holding a snake in its beak.
The most expensive 1823 8 Reales is a proof, which is generally in good condition despite the poor strike.
Graded PR63 by the NGC, this rare example is a gem for collectors keen on ancient but valuable Mexican coins.
The coin was auctioned in 2008 and sold for an enviable $89,125.
This proof coin is one of only two examples, with this one considered superior.
The obverse features a notably larger Liberty cap with the sun’s rays suspended on the horizon. On the reverse, you will notice the eagle’s head is at a slightly raised angle.
This coin was graded PF64 and sold for $120,750.
The 1538 is one of the earliest in the Americas. Minted in Mexico City two years after the Mint was established, this coin features the mint mark M twice on the reverse. Francisco del Rincon was the Mint’s first engraver, and his signature appears on the coin.
There are only three known existing examples, all of which demonstrate poor strike and significant errors. This is understandable, though, considering how old these coins are.
A close look at the legends reveals several die breaks and a double re-punching error. On the upside, this example doesn’t show signs of extensive damage and is generally the better one of the three existing examples.
The 1538 Mexico Reales is hands-down the most valuable Mexican coin, having sold for a record-breaking $528,000 at a 2016 auction.
Mexican coins are beautiful and espouse centuries worth of history, rich culture, and a struggle for independence. Collecting these coins can be challenging, given that only a few examples of each exist and come up for auction. When they come up for sale, these coins can be pretty expensive, but any collector will tell you that the investment in valuable Mexican coins is worthwhile.