Mexican Pesos and Centavos Picture

Starting from the bottom...

19th century Centavo:

Un centavo (1892)

This is the oldest Peso I own, and it is actually in better condition than some of my North American coins that are as old or older.

20th century Centavos:

Un, dos, and cinco centavos are posted here as well. The older ones usually depicted just the number, but the later centavos would hold greater historical and mythological relevance.

20 centavos (the 8 coins closest to the middle)

Made from a fine bronze, these are probably some of the prettiest coins I have ever seen. At first I thought they were just plain copper, but it turns out they are a copper alloy, or bronze, which is not unheard of but strange to the touch compared to just plain copper or even silver coins.

It is an almost symbolic piece, depicting the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán surrounded by the volcanoes Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepet.

For anyone who doesn't know the mythology around these mountains, the story goes...

Once upon a time, there were two people, Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepe, who were madly in love. The young warrior Popocatepe, and his beautiful princess Iztaccihuatl.

Iztaccihuatl's father, who was a great king, charged Popocatepe with a great mission before he could take Iztaccihuatl as his bride. Popocatepetl would battle against an enemy tribe and bring back the head of their leader.

Iztaccihuatl, who waited anxiously for his return, was tricked by Popocatepetl's rival, who sent a false message back to the king that Popocatepetl was killed in battle.

The princess, heartbroken and becoming delirious with anguish, fell ill and slipped into an unswayable depression. She lost her breath and laid dead holding a flower he left her. When Popocatepetl returned home triumphant he became inconsolable with grief when he heard of Iztaccihuatl's death. He cried out to the gods to bring her back and cursed the world.

His eyes poured with tears as he carried her body to the mountains where he built her a proper funeral pyre, and he decorated it with flowers, like the one he left her. He built it bigger so it can hold both himself and his princess.


There they laid together. And the only ones who wept for them were the gods.

The gods, who knew they could not undo what was done, and who were deeply touched by the two lover's plight, turned them into the great mountains you see today, so that they could be together forever.

They remain there, to this day, with Popocatepetl residing over his princess, guarding her while she lay asleep.

They say that when Popocatepetl spews fire and ash, he is reminding everyone that he will never leave Iztaccihuatl, and that those who lie or who have wickedness in their hearts had best stay away, because it was a lie that stole their happiness from them.

So, yeah, it is a very nice coin.

Mexican culture has a lot of mythologies and symbols that decorate their coins. The eagle itself has a legend tied to it; being a religious symbol to the original natives from that area, but also a symbol of triumph over evil. The bird is often seen clutching different symbols and is sometimes depicted eating different kinds of animals that hold some kind of symbolic significance. The bird is also said to have founded what we now call Mexico city, originally the capital city of Tenochtitlan ("tenoch" meaning "cactus fruit," and "ti-tian" meaning "below" or "at the base of."

What interests me more about the bird is how often it changes from spreading its wings and showing off its belly, and then being hunched over while it eats the snake. Honestly I prefer the older design with the bird facing us.

Cinco (5) Centavos

Also to note, the Cinco centavo depicts a woman!

María Josefa Crescencia Ortiz Téllez - Girón, AKA La Corregidora, was the rebel insurgent and sympathizer of the mestizos and criollos of Mexico. Racism and class-divided factualism was not just a North American thing.

She was a supporter of the Mexican War of Independence against Spain and for her efforts she was eventually caught and tried as a conspirator. She spent time in monasteries as punishment and eventually was released only to discover that Mexico was soon under the title of "Empire" rather than "Republic" like she and so many others had hoped. She was offered many titles by the new King and Empress of Mexico, but she declined them and kept her self-respect.

Respect!

Sic semper tyrannis, sister!

Keep your dignity and let the Kings entitle themselves.

Sure enough, that emperor, Iturbide, his empire didn't last either. That is why she belongs on this coin. What a shame she was discontinued.

To the left of Josefa, another rebel, is the great José María Morelos, a man shrouded in mystery and legend as well. A catholic priest, he took up the flag when he learned of Father Hidalgo's fall and assumed the revolution's leadership. It was under his leadership that the Congress of Anáhuac was installed and it was by them that the first declaration of Mexico's Republic was made.

Unfortunately, although he did achieve notable victories and with no military experience, Morelos was eventually defeated. He was tried and executed. What really stood out about Morelos from the other revolutionaries is that he was a mestizo (of mixed native) and was able to inspire and relate to the bulk of his army.

He is always depicted with his bandana head-rag, always present like some kind of Mexican pirate. Perhaps the people want him to be remembered that way. If he isn't depicted on a coin he is always present on a bank note, but a very nice and collectable piece is the silver Morelos peso, which I own but do not have depicted her, and it is a very nicely made coin. This one depicted is one of many copper-nickel varieties from the 1980's. There is another variation depicted next to the $100 Peso on the right. Same Morelos, different angle.

Although all these coins have some notable characters, these were the ones who stood out to me. Now as far as the Peso itself... eh... the Peso has been plagued with high inflation and unreliable investments. The Mexican government has collected and reissued the Peso numerous times and the $100 to $1000 peso coins should give you an indication as to how far the inflation went (I do not have the $1000 posted here, sorry).


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