Foreign Rare Features

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1738 Mexico Pillar Dollar PCGS
MS61

Only one finer graded by PCGS!

Every so often a world coin comes along and completely knocks us off our feet. The combination of rarity, quality, and story with this 8 Reales is beyond belief. Known as a “pillar dollar” to U.S. col- lectors, the 8 Reales/ Pillar Dollar was struck in Mexico under Spanish Colonial rule and circulated

in the U.S. and globally. The obverse features two globe images, symbolic of the old and new worlds uniting with the legend VTRAQUE VNUM (“both are one”), flanked by the Pillars of Hercules, whose flowing ribbons reading “PLVS” and “VLTRA” (“more beyond”) are long thought to be the origin of the dollar symbol. Legend has it that Hercules smashed through a mountain, connecting the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea just south of Spain. Struck at the Mexico City mint.

This 1738 Pillar dollar was struck in Mexico City (Mo) by the assayer (MF) under Philip V and Ferdi- nand VI, this coin is among only 14 graded by PCGS, with only one for the grade, and only one finer!

Legal Tender in the U.S. until the Coinage Act of 1857 passed! The FIRST coin in the Red Book of U.S. coinage

The FIRST silver coin to circulate in the U.S.

A standard of international trade.

And most interestingly, the origin of the Dollar Symbol! Census Data: 1 / only 1 finer @ PCGS


1904 Mexican Republic Gold 10 Pesos
NGC MS65

Census: 4 / only 4 finer (14 total)

  • Only 4 coins to achieve the Gem Mint State MS65 grade.

  • Only 14 pieces total graded for this date and mint!

  • Let’s compare that to the U.S. $10 Eagle equivalent- of which NGC has graded a whopping 12,963 pieces from the Philadelphia mint alone!

Struck at the Mexico City mint- this piece has blazing lustrous surfaces, with a proof-like eye appeal and crisp white design devices. A solid specimen for the issue and a great addition to any early 20th Century gold collection.

Struck under Mexican President Porfirio Diaz

Porfirio Diaz was Mexican President from 1876-1911. He promoted “order and progress” and oversaw the modernization of the economy and the flow of foreign investment to Mexico. He is credited with ushering a period of stability and economic growth- a welcome change following the previous half-century of economic stagnation and political chaos after Independence.

Obverse: Facing eagle, snake in beak, Reverse: Radiant cap above scales of justice


1881 Mexican Republic Gold 10 Pesos
NGC AU55

POP 1 Finest Known

The absolute rarity of this coin cannot be understated:

  • Only coin EVER graded by NGC or PCGS – POP 1 FINEST KNOWN!

  • Even if you add up all 1881 10 Pesos from every mint struck in Mexico, the total is only 14 pieces!

  • Let’s compare that to the U.S. $10 Eagle equivalent- of which NGC has graded a whopping 12,963 pieces from the Philadelphia mint alone!

Struck at the Alamos mint- A premium coin for the designation with strong mint luster and only slight high-point friction evidence. The single example of this very rare issue currently certified at either NGC or PCGS, vastly desirable in this unflawed higher quality. We note a raw example described as “AU, harshly cleaned” hammered for $6,300 in Heritage’s 2012 NYINC auction (lot 29254).

Struck under Mexican President Porfirio Diaz

Porfirio Diaz was Mexican President from 1876-1911. He promoted “order and progress” and oversaw the modernization of the economy and the flow of foreign investment to Mexico. He is credited with ushering a period of stability and economic growth- a welcome change following the previous half-century of economic stagnation and political chaos after Independence.

Obverse: Facing eagle, snake in beak, Reverse: Radiant cap above scales of justice


Mexican Republic Cap and Rays 8 Reales

The Cap & Rays series of 8 Reales were issued by the Republic of Mexico from 1823 to 1897 at 14 different mints. This iconic design bears on one side the national emblem of an eagle with a serpent in its mouth, and the opposite side shows a Liberty cap with the word LIBERTAD surrounded by rays of light. The origin of the liberty “Phrygian” cap design found on this coinage can be traced to ancient times. It came to signify freedom after the French Revolution in 1789 and its influence is clearly seen on iconic early U.S. issues, such as the copper “liberty cap” large cent first struck in 1793 and the gold half eagle and eagle struck from 1795 onwards.

The coat of arms on the reverse depicts a Mexican golden eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus devouring a rattlesnake. The design is rooted in the legend that the Aztec people would know where to build their city once they saw an eagle eating a snake on top of a lake. This symbol had strong religious connotations, and to the Europeans, it came to symbolize the triumph of good over evil (with the snake sometimes representative of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.)

These Mexican issues, colloquially known as the “Mexican Dollar”, became a dominant currency in international trade, easily outpacing the U.S. Morgan and Trade Dollar in popularity and acceptance. They provided the backbone of both the North American and Asian trade d and as such, their historical value can hardly be overstated. In fact, it is quite safe to state that they constitute the most important trade coinage issued anywhere in the world in the 19th Century. Since the output of the U.S. mints was insufficient in meeting the demands for local circulating coinage, the Mexican 8 Reales also provided a solid internal replacement for the United States Silver Dollar. A perfect illustration of this fact is found in the famous numismatic work “Monograph of the Silver Dollar” published in 1845 by the metal refiner of the branch mint in New Orleans, J.L. Riddell, who stated that “More than 90% of the dollars in circulation in the U.S. bear the Mexican stamp”, meaning that 9 out of 10 dollar-sized coins in the U.S. were Mexican Cap and Rays 8 Reales.

Perhaps most interesting, is the fact that this type of Cap and Rays 8 Reales was used in the Old West for the production of Texas Ranger’s badges, which are arguably the most sought-after relics of Texas and “Old West” history among collectors.

Thanks to recently published reference works, this is now a straightforward series to collect, yet also one of the most fascinating and challenging ones. Many of the key rarities within it can be traced to legendary U.S. collections with provenances such as Brand, Newcomer, Wayte Raymond, F. C. C. Boyd, Amon Carter and Norweb. Since the series is also now heavily sought after in Chinese and Oriental circles for the same historical importance, it is easy to appreciate the potential appreciation contained in these beautiful coins.

Obverse: national emblem of Mexico with an eagle surmounting a cactus with a serpent in its beak and the circular inscription “REPUBLICA MEXICANA”.

Reverse: a Phrygian cap on the center bearing the inscription “LIBERTAD”, and a circular legend indicating date, denomination as “8. Rs”, assayer initials and fineness as “10 D(inero)s 20 G(rano)s (equivalent to .907 silver purity).