1877-Go FR 8 Reales Mexico MS63 PCGS, Go57, Fantastic Toning! Guanajuato mint, Go57. The vast hoards of gold and silver mined in Mexico starting after the arrival of the conquistadores necessitated first the establishment of a mint in Mexico City in 1536, making it today the oldest mint in the Western Hemisphere. Over time a total of 14 mints scattered throughout Mexico, ranging from Alamos mint to Zacatecas. The earlier 8 reales coins struck in Mexico as a Spanish colony featured the portrait of a Spanish king (as did comparable coins struck in other Spanish colonies, including Bolivia and Peru), but after the end of the short-lived Mexican Empire under Agustin Itubide (accompanied by Imperial portrait coinage), the 8 reales coins adopted new motifs emblematic of their newfound freedom from Spanish rule: A Liberty cap with LIBERTAD (LIBERTY) and radiant rays, on the reverse REPUBLICA MEXICANA (MEXICAN REPUBLIC), an eagle killing a snake and standing on a nopal cactus. The obverse peripheral legend includes a star; 8R for the denomination of 8 reales; the mintmark, one or two letters normally, in this case Go for Guanajuato; the year of issue; the assayer’s (or mint leaseholder’s; the guy you kill if your coin is underweight) initials (sometimes there two or more assayers/leaseholders for a single year, and dozens for the coinage span of a mint); and finally 10 Ds. 20 Gs. for 10 dineros 20 granos, basically signifying a fineness or purity of 0.9027 fine silver. The reigning reference book for these, and source of the attributions we will use such as Go57 above, is the indispensable Resplandores: The Cap and Rays 8 Reales of the Republic of Mexico 1823–1897 by Mike Dunigan and J.B. Parker (Superior Stamp & Coin, 1997).
There are a couple of ways to collect these coins (OK, more than that); one could assemble a representative so-called “type set” (although that is a misnomer; they are all the same type) of one of each of the 14 mints. PCGS has such a Set Registry definition. This could be accomplished, although not easily, in circulated condition. An entire Mint State collection from each branch mint is also technically doable, although the single-year 1863 8 reales from the Catorce mint would be a tremendous challenge. Or, if one desired, one could try for one of each date, mint, and assayer; such a collection would require the rest of one’s life and still be incomplete at one’s death. There are more than a thousand such combinations.
At VDB Coins we are going to settle for buying nice coins in a variety of conditions and price ranges. This is a start; stay tuned.
The TrueView image needs little embellishment. Fantastic luster emanates from well-preserved surfaces that to our eyes could easily have garnered an MS64 grade, but there are a few ticks and scrapes on the Liberty cap and the rays. The reverse toning shows a single dark streak on the left (facing) wing but is phenomenally beautiful. PCGS Population: 6 in MS63, 5 finer (4 in 64, 1 in 66) (1/2018).