The Mexican 50 Pesos Gold Coin is also known as the Centenario. Considered by many to be the most beautiful coin ever minted, the 50 Pesos coin was first produced in 1921 to celebrate the Centennial of Mexico’s Independence from Spain. Perhaps the largest gold coin ever minted for currency, each coin contains 1.2057 troy ounces of gold alloyed with 10% copper for durability. Produced each year following 1921, minting was suspended after 1931. The coin was again produced in 1943 when 50 Pesos was removed from the left obverse of the coin and 37.5 Gr. Oro Puro was substituted, most likely because of currency uncertainty and assuredly for bullion purposes. Production was continued from 1944 through 1947 with 50 Pesos returned to the left side of the coin, likely to continue bullion sales for Mexico and perhaps to counter the resistance to the 1943 coin.
Over 3 million coins dated 1947 have been produced as “restrikes” using the 1947 dies, intended solely as bullion issues. A special production of 300 coins dated 1947 was made in 1996 with refurbished dies, most likely the source of the very few high-grade coins in private collections. It has been reported that the mint is currently producing restrikes with new dies, but no specific information is available. Of the two 1947 coins in the collection, one is graded MS-69, and one is a very rare mint error graded at MS-68.
In terms of scarcity, the 1943 coin is unique and also rare, with a mintage of 89,000 coins. Other low mintage years were 1931 with 137,000 coins and 1921 with 180,000 coins.
The obverse side of the 50 Pesos coin shows the Winged Victory (El Angel). She holds a laurel wreath in her right hand symbolizing victory and a broken chain in her left hand symbolizing freedom, with the volcanoes Popocatepetl (smoking mountain) and Ixtaccihuatl (sleeping lady) in the background. The mountains also represent two Indian lovers of Aztec legend, a prince and princess from different Indian tribes who fell in love, eloped and were eventually exiled. On the left side, 1821 represents the year of Mexico’s Independence, and on the right side is the year in which the coin was minted.
The reverse side has the Golden Eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos) standing on a cactus plant with a snake in its beak. The national emblem of Mexico, it is Aztec lore recounting the belief that the god Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs to seek a place for a settlement where they found an eagle devouring a snake on a prickly pear cactus. They found the eagle as predicted in what is now Mexico City, the home of the mint that produced these coins. This mint, known as Casa de Moneda, was established during Spanish rule in 1535, and is the first and oldest mint in the Americas.
The coin’s edge is collar-stamped with the words: INDEPENDENCIA Y LIBERTAD
Assembling the entire set of sixteen years was challenging and required about three years. Since I had most of them graded myself, some were lost to grading irregularities and disappointing grades. Some issue years of the gold 50 Pesos are becoming increasingly difficult to find. How many have been lost or melted over the years is always a question. Some may have been swept up when the US departed from a gold-backed dollar in 1934 and required citizens to turn in gold for $20 per ounce. I have added comments on each coin as well as photos to accompany the historical and numismatic details I have gathered.
The 50 Pesos gold coin of Mexico was initiated in 1921 to commemorate 100 years of Independence from Spain. The set includes all of the years this very large gold currency coin was struck, 1921-1931 and 1943-1947 inclusive.