The oldest form of national currency in North America is the peso of Mexico. Issued as early as the 15th century, the peso originated as a Spanish coin used in transactions throughout the colonial empire of Spain in the Western Hemisphere. The first coins of the pesos currency under an independent Mexico didn’t arrive until 1863, with most gold pesos coming from the 20th century.
Considered one of the purest gold bullion coins for much of the 20th century, Mexican gold peso coins remain an attractive option for investors because the remaining specimens available today have much lower premiums over the spot price of gold as a coin that is no longer in production. Learn a little bit about the history behind gold pesos, including their designs and denomination options on this page.
The Mexican peso is the official currency of Mexico and is struck as both coins of varying denominations and paper banknotes. All pesos, both historic and modern, are products of the Mexican Mint. The current Mexican peso is known officially as the “Nuevo pesos” and was introduced by the Mexican federal government on January 1, 1993, to help stabilize the national currency following Mexico’s 1983 default on all of its external debt. To this day though, most people simply refer to Mexican coinage as “pesos,” rather than “Nuevo pesos.”
When it comes to gold pesos, the first gold coins from Mexico to feature the word “peso” on the surface came during the Second Mexican Empire during the reign of Emperor Maximilian. From 1864 to 1867, the empire issued silver coins with “pesos” on the face value legend. Starting in 1870, the first gold pesos were introduced.
Fast forward to the 20th century and monetary reform was underway in Mexico. In 1905, the country began to issue new peso coins in silver and gold. The gold options included a 5 peso and 10 peso option. Gold pesos in various denominations were issued periodically from 1905 to 1972 by the Mexican Mint, with expanded options including the 2, 2 ½, and 20 pesos coins arriving between 1917 and 1919. Like many other countries, circulation gold pesos ceased in the early 20th century. In 1921, Mexico ended the production of gold pesos for use in circulation.
However, gold pesos didn’t come to a complete halt that year. Also in 1921, the nation of Mexico undertook a massive celebration of its 100th anniversary of independence from Spanish rule. The vast majority of these coins took the form of the so-called Centenario, the leading piece in the series with a 50 pesos face value and the design of Winged Victory on the coin’s obverse.
Most modern investors are familiar with the design of the Centenario 50 pesos gold coin, if not from ownership of that original coin, then as a result of its visuals being used on the modern gold bullion coin from the Mexican Mint (Mexican Gold Libertad). Outside of the primary 50 pesos coin, gold pesos were struck in this series with face values of 20 pesos, 10 pesos, 5 pesos, 2.5 pesos, and 2 pesos. The coins had varying weights with a metal content of .900 pure gold. Until the release of the 1967 South African Gold Krugerrand, the gold pesos of Mexico were the purest gold bullion coins available for much of the 20th century.
Designs on these gold pesos in the 20th century varied based upon denomination. These coins were issued regularly from 1921 to 1931, 1944 to 1947, and again from 1949 to 1972, with many coins of this era using a “1947” date mark. The gold Centenario had the depiction of the beautiful Angel de la Independencia, a depiction based upon the winged Roman Goddess of Victory. Other denominations had varying designs of the nation’s coat of arms and the portrait of Don Miguel Hidalgo. Hidalgo was a beloved priest who led the effort to free Mexico from Spanish colonial rule in the 19th century.
JM Bullion, as an example, has the 2 Pesos gold coin from the Mexican Mint. The 2 Pesos gold coin had .482 Troy oz of actual gold content and was generally issued from 1921 through 1948. On the obverse of these coins is the depiction of Mexico’s coat of arms, which bears an eagle perched on a cactus branch as it is locked in battle with a serpent. The reverse of the coins includes a simple wreath with the face value engraved in the center as “Dos Pesos.”
The Mexican Mint is the oldest operating mint in the Western Hemisphere. Originally founded in 1535, it was opened by Spanish conquistadors conquering Central and South America. The mint’s original duties included refining gold and silver from the New World to ship back to the Spanish crown. The mint also struck Spanish colonial coinage for all colonies of the Spanish crown in the Western Hemisphere.
Today, the Mexican Mint is the official sovereign mint of Mexico and is still located in Mexico City. It produces both modern pesos coinage and paper banknotes under the guidance of the federal government of Mexico and Banco de Mexico.
You can find gold pesos for sale from JM Bullion. If you have questions, contact our customer service team at 800-276-6508, online using our live chat, and via our email address.