San Francisco and Mexico City mints for China
During the summer of 1949 the San Francisco and Mexico City mints struck 10,250,000 copies of a
Mexico 1898 peso for the China Nationalist government to pay soldiers fighting the Communists.
1. Mexico 1898 peso (1949 restrike)
Silver, 39 mm, 27.03 gm
Obverse: "Liberty Cap" and rays
Reverse: Eagle on cactus holding serpent in beak
In 1949 the American Numismatic Association (ANA) held it's annual convention in San Francisco from
August 21 to 24, 1949.
coins being struck, including silver dollars.
United States wasn't making silver dollars then. Some recognized the design on the coins of an
eagle sitting on cactus holding a snake as the national emblem of Mexico.
to Mexico he researched the pesos and the reasons for them being struck.
Mexican silver pesos in China:
For centuries the mints of Spain and later independent Mexico produced the silver dollar-size
eight reales and peso coins which circulated all over the world, especially in China.
A real (plural: reales) was originally a Spanish denomination and eight reales made a peso.
known as "Spanish Milled Dollars". After the revolution they formed the basis for the
United States dollar.
extensively in China as "trade dollars" in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
People would sometimes refer to them as "Mex dollars".
China 1934 dollar coin:
In 1934 the China Shanghai mint manufactured almost 100,000,000 silver dollars with Sun Yat-Sen,
the founder of the Republic of China in 1912, on them. The master dies for these coins were made
at the United States Philadelphia Mint.
2. China 1934 Sun Yat-Sen silver "boat" dollar
Silver, 39 mm, 26.75 gm
China in 1949:
Since the end of World War II in 1945, China had undergone a civil war between the
Nationalist or Kuomintang government of General Chiang Kai-Shek and the Communist revolutionary army
of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. By early 1949, the Communists controlled most of the country.
millions of Chinese Nationalist paper yuan or dollars.
currency to replace the inflated "gold yuan" currency which had replaced (in 1948) the inflated "fapi"
or paper dollar. This marked the return to the silver standard which China had abandoned in 1935.
3. China Silver Dollar Note 1949 front
4. China Silver Dollar Note 1949 back
The note depicts the reverse of a silver "boat" dollar.
As before, the paper money soon became inflated and then almost worthless.
had been reduced to enclaves in Canton and Chungking.
Canton, formerly Kwangtung, now Guangzhou, is located on the Chinese coast near Hong Kong.
Chungking, now Chongqing, is located in central China and was the Nationalist capital of China.
paid in silver. When paid in silver, the soldiers would receive one or two silver dollars per month.
"losing" China to the Communists.
struck 30,000,000 copies of the 1934 Sun Yat-Sen silver dollar, first to support the new Silver Yuan
currency and later for general use.
to tell the 1949 Sun Yat-Sen dollar restrikes from the 1934 originals. These dollars were shipped to
Canton via Hong Kong.
strike 10,250,000 Mexican peso coins to ship to China.
The Mexico 1949 Restrike:
It was decided to restrike an 1898 Mexico silver peso of the type listed in Krause's
Standard Catalog of World Coins as number KM 409.2
The Mexico City mint was to strike 10,250,000 pesos but due to the urgency of the need,
the San Francisco mint was subcontracted to strike 2,000,000 pesos leaving Mexico to strike
the remaining 8,250,000.
to differentiate the restrikes from the 1898 originals.
the mintmark of the Mexico City mint for 400 years.
5. Mexico peso mintmarks, original and restrike
On the original peso the tops of the mintmark 'M' and 'o' lined up horizontally while on the restrike
the top of the 'o' is significantly higher than the top of the 'M'.
around the rim of the design, but as the denticle counts on original pesos differ from coin to coin
this method does not always work.
denticle counts of 137, 138, or 139.
November 1949, 2,526,978 were delivered to the Republic of China via Hong Kong and Canton,
1,942,000 were stored in the vaults of the Mexico City mint, 3,779,000 were sent to Hermosillo, Sonora
during the month of June 1950 for melting, and 2,022 were kept by the Bank of Mexico.
eight reales coins for export only, but not the 1898 and later peso coins.
normal practice in Mexico which had struck it's own bullion "onza" coins in 1949.
enormous amount of gold and silver, no doubt including some pesos.
of the nearby Bank of America to await shipment to China. 2,000,000 silver dollars weigh around
sixty tons and one can imagine the storage charges imposed by the bank.
storage charges, the coins were sold back to the San Francisco Mint, melted, and recycled into
American coins. It appears that no San Francisco restrike pesos were saved as few people learned
of the striking before they were melted.
Examples of original 1898 Mexico pesos:
6. Mexico peso 1898 original number 1
Silver, 38 mm, 27.05 gm
The obverse has 140 beads and reverse has 139 beads.
This coin has a die crack on the obverse.
7. Mexico peso 1898 original number 2
Silver, 38 mm, 26.96 gm
The obverse has 134 beads and reverse has 137 beads.
Example of 1949 restrike Mexico peso:
8. Mexico peso 1949 restrike
Silver, 38 mm, 27.06 gm
The obverse has 134 beads and reverse has 131 beads.
Current status of these coins:
The original and restrike pesos are not rare and can be found at coin dealers, coin shows, and on
internet sale and auction sites.
released and were subsequently melted.
Restrikes have similar prices.
which the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has graded as uncirculated MS-62 and above.
but the restrikes should not have them as this practice had ended by 1949.
These unusual coins have been mentioned in some numismatic articles.
the trade dollars of the late 1800's.
design differences between San Francisco restrikes and Mexico City restrikes, this is impossible
as all of the dies were made at Mexico City.
And a final note:
Modern Chinese copies of these coins are available:
9. Chinese copy of Mexico restrike, marked "COPY"
Imitation silver, 38 mm, 18.84 gm
Dr. Alberto Francisco Pradeau, "The San Francisco, California, Mexican Pesos of 1898",
for the Azteca Numismatic Society's newsletter Plus Ultra, September 27, 1968
published by Krause Publications, Inc. yearly, usually referred to as "Krause",
The coin is listed in the 1995 edition as number KM 409.2,
Whitman Publishing Company, 2004
United States 1793-1980, US Government Printing Office, 1981
This publication has mintage numbers but little else about these coins.
Whitman Publishing Company, 1965
This book states that only the United States restrikes have 131 beads on the reverse and the
originals have 139 beads.