During the centuries that Mexico was a colony of Spain, the silver real was the country’s currency. It took 16 reales to equal one gold escudo, and 8 reales to equal a single peso, which was Mexico’s dollar. Forty years after Mexico gained its independence from Spain, a decimal monetary system arrived—when it did in 1863, 100 centavos became the new base value of the peso.
Of the coins from the early days of the Republica Mexicana, escudos and reales minted in the 1820s are in particularly high demand. Each featured a variation of an eagle with a snake in its beak on the obverse (a reference to the legend of Mexico City’s founding), with a liberty cap on the reverse.
In 1905, the gold content of the peso was reduced by almost 50 percent. The artistry of the coin did not suffer, however, especially in 1910, when a silver peso was struck featuring yet another variation of that Mexico City eagle on the obverse, with a woman riding a horse in front of a radiating sun on the other side.
Other Mexican coins of note include round lead centavos issued by the state of Durango in 1914 and rectangular copper Oaxacan centavos from 1915.