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Supplemental Mintage Data - Mexican Gold Coins (1875-1879) Some Observations

by Brian R. Stickney

Standard catalogues covering Mexican coinage typically lack specific mintage data for gold coins struck from 1875-1879. Mint-by-mint data is available for most facilities for the year 1878 in the five denominations struck and for some of the higher denominations for selected other years. For the most part, however, there are a lot of blanks.

The table below gives us a bit more clarity into minting activities from which one might extrapolate to get a better sense of scarcity. In the way of background, the data is derived from the 1880 annual report of the director of the US MintAnnual Report of the Director of the US Mint, 1880, Page 133, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.. Congress mandated that the US Treasury begin gathering data on precious metals and coinage production throughout the world, beginning in the mid-1870s. The US mint complied, working though the diplomatic service in contact with relevant host country officials, focusing on countries of interest, to include Mexico.

The table provides the number of gold coins struck in Mexico year-by-year for each of the five denominations extant. No information was provided mint-by-mint. A word of caution. Data, in this instance, was provided on a “fiscal year” basis (vice calendar year), ending June 30 of each year identified. Thus, the figures of 1875 cover the calendar period of 1 July 1874 thru 30 June 1875 and might incorporate coins dated 1874 (struck 1 July-31 Dec 1874) or those dated 1875 (struck 1 Jan-30 June 1875). Mints throughout the world during this period variously reported data on either a calendar or fiscal year basis, or both.

Mexican Gold Coin Mintage Data 1875-1879, by Denomination and Fiscal Year

Year  1 Peso 2.5 Pesos 5 Pesos 10 Pesos 20 Pesos
1875 3,074 400 3,223 8,363 37,940
1876 1,699 821 1,736 5,065 37,316
1877 1,000 400 3,332 2,277 32,716
1878 3,248 1,100 2,816 3,656 31,768
1879 1,256 400 1,984 8,099 28,252

Given the above caveats, the table is useful to make some observations. First, there are no major surprises with respect to other years where more specific information is available. Comparatively speaking, the numbers of gold coins struck are modest, especially for the lower denominations which, by quantities produced, are far scarcer than, say, the 20-pesos coin. This is true of a number of countries of this era, including the US.

With respect to the one-peso denomination, heretofore, we have only known that Hermosillo struck 310 pieces in 1875 and that Mexico City made 2,000 such coins in 1878; Culican another 248. The table above tells us that another 1,000 pieces were credited to fiscal year 1878, but we do not know where. For the period in question, 1877 is the low point with only 1,000 pieces struck, presumably in Mexico City. This is because catalogues only list Mexico City as producing the gold one-peso that year and the quantity (1,000) is identical to production runs in a few other years; e.g. 1871, 1881, 1883 and 1888, found in  the 2014 North American Coin Prices GuideHarper, David, 2014 North American Coins and Prices, a Guide to US, Canadian and Mexican Coins, Krause Publications )KP(, Iola, 2013..

Similarly, one can draw observations about the two-and-a-half peso coin. Consistently one observes very low mintages with the figure of 400 appearing three times in the table above (1875, 1877, and 1879) which might be attributed to Mexico City. Again, the size of this run is consistent with that mint, which catalogue data indicates produced 400 coins each year for 1878, 1881, 1884, 1886 and 1887. The year 1878 was a high water mark for the period with 1,100 pieces struck. KP tells us 400 were made in Mexico City; 300 in Zacatecas. This leaves a balance of 400 unaccounted for in the fiscal year 1878. One explanation is that the balance of 400 coins were actually struck and dated in the second half of calendar year 1877 (July-December) which, for accounting purposes, would have been included in the numbers of the 1878 fiscal year. KP records two-and-a-half pesos attributed to both Mexico City and Zacatecas for 1877.