By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek …..
Grading the Mexican Caballito Peso requires skilled eyes and a working knowledge of the silver coin’s design and strike nuances. The early 20th-century peso is a beautiful silver coin with a compelling story, yet it had but a short life during troubling times in the Latin American nation. The Caballito Peso was struck from 1910 through 1914 and was born during the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, when social liberals took a stand against the 34-year dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz and his anti-constitution regime.
In the wake of the upheaval came the beautiful Caballito Peso. The coin features a female representation of Liberty riding sidesaddle on a horse and holding a torch and laurel branch high above her head. Sun rays beam behind her, symbolizing independence, hope, and resilience. The obverse of the coin, commonly mistaken for the reverse, bears the image of a Mexican Golden Eagle perched on a cactus and grasping a writhing snake in its mouth.
The Caballito Peso, which in English translates to “the little horse peso,” was designed by Beaux-Arts era French engraver and medalist Charles Pillet. His exquisite design was first patterned in 1907 for the 50-centavo coin but was later adapted as a Peso pattern in 1909. The series was struck at the Mexico City branch of the Mexican Mint during the coin’s entire 1910 through 1914 run. It is often considered Mexico’s first commemorative coin, as it was struck to mark the centennial of the Mexican War of Independence, which lasted from 1810 to 1821.
The Caballito Peso is regarded by many as one of Mexico’s finest numismatic productions, enjoying steady interest from coin collectors in the United States and throughout the world. Measuring 39 millimeters in diameter, the Caballito Peso is typically classified among World Crowns. It is therefore widely collected as a type coin representative of Mexico within a larger collection of other classic, large-diameter silver coins from nations spanning the globe.
Most specimens that hit the market are in raw, circulated grades, though many Caballito Pesos are encountered in Mint State and encapsulated in third-party coin slabs. The 1910 Caballito Peso is the most common issue in the series, with 3,814,000 pieces struck. It is also among the most affordable specimens, with prices ranging from about US$50 in a grade of Very Fine-20 to $250 in Mint State-63. The 1914 Caballito Peso – the last in the series – is the scarcest regular-issue piece. Only 120,000 Caballito Pesos were made that year and prices start at around $700 for a specimen in VF-20, climbing to $4,000 for an example in MS-60.
In addition to the regular-issue coins, there are also a few notable die varieties for collectors to choose from. These include the 1911 Long Lower Left Ray and Short Lower Left Ray pieces and the 1913/2 overdate.
Grading the coin can be difficult, especially for those who may not be attuned to collecting the series. Lance Tchor, founder and co-president of coin verification service WINGS Coins LLC, has been a full-time dealer and world coin expert since 1977. He says there are several aspects to consider when grading Caballito Pesos.
“The detail of the Caballito Peso is a challenge to find fully struck,” he remarks. “Although a wonderfully artistic design, the striking detail is generally soft on most issues due to the dies used and striking pressure.”
Tchor says the obverse of the Caballito Peso has several elements that require careful attention from the grader.
“Liberty’s head and the folds of her dress on the reverse are focal points, but basically the whole design brings challenges to proper detail in the striking extending to the horse, branch, and torch.”
According to the grading authority, strike clarity on the reverse can be judged in terms of overall sharpness of the main features. Still, Tchor says there is at least one obverse design element that collectors must pay extra careful attention to. “The obverse challenges generally revolve around the eagle.”
Collectors who own certified Caballito Pesos should consider submitting their coins for WINGS verification if the details on the coin appear solid and the surfaces are generally free of detractions. “Certain dies do their best to bring to life the design elements as were meant to be,” Tchor explains. “A circulated coin can be a challenge to grade due to the general commonality of poor dies and weak strikings.”
As with most coins, strike quality is one of the biggest factors in determining what a Caballito Peso is worth. Strike is also a key consideration for WINGS grading experts when they determine what coins should get a WINGS sticker and which are returned unstickered.
“WINGS looks for the overall eye appeal and strike in determining its decision to render either the silver or gold sticker,” Tchor says.
When a coin receives a silver WINGS sticker, the grading team believes it is a “solid” representative of the grade stated on its slab label. Meanwhile, a gold WINGS sticker suggests the coin is a “premium quality” specimen. WINGS stickers are not only helpful for easily identifying top-quality coins, but they may also help those pieces sell for higher prices than similarly graded coins absent a silver or gold WINGS sticker.
For more information about submitting your coins for verification through WINGS Coins, call toll-free 1-855-339-4647 or download a submission form.
 Mintages courtesy NGC: https://www.ngccoin.com/price-guide/world/mexico-peso-km-453-1910-1914-cuid-1764-duid-8541
 Prices averaged from link above and compared to eBay listing results
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