At the turn of the 20th century, Mexico adopted the gold standard and issued new coin denominations. Five-peso and 10-peso gold coins were introduced in 1905. The 2.5-peso gold coin’s run began in 1918, and the two-peso gold coin followed in 1919. The 20-peso gold coin featuring the Aztec Sun Stone was first struck for circulation in 1917 and ran until 1921. The denomination was issued under the authority of the Mexican Monetary Reform Act of 1905.
Under the law, Mexican coinage production was centralized and the use of Mexican branch mints was discontinued. Overflow coin production was contracted out to the United States Mint and England’s Birmingham Mint. During this period, 6.16 million pieces of the type were struck. The majority were produced in 1918 and 1919. 921,500 pieces closed out the series’ production run in 1921. Many, according to Mexican coin experts, are of the 1921 “21 over 11” overdate variety. The condition census reveals a paucity of “clean” 1921s in top grades.
In 1960, the Mexican Mint resumed production of the series. Over the course of 11 years, 1,158,414 pieces dated “1959” were struck. Production again resumed between 2000 and 2009. This second batch of restrikes was struck with matte (satin) finishes. The first ones to appear on the market caught quality-conscious experts and collectors off guard.
Centered, a rendition of the Seal of the United Mexican States. A golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) grasps a snake in its beak and in its right talon. The snake rears back its head as it attempts to bite the eagle. The eagle is perched atop a nopal cactus (genus Opuntia), which grows atop a small mound surrounded by water.
Originally, this iconography refers to the Mexica (Aztec) people’s foundation myth of the city of Tenochtitlan (later Mexico City). One version of the legend has Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the sun, telling the wandering Mexica to build their city on the site where an eagle is consuming a serpent. According to author Allan Schein, the water specifically represents the waters of Lake Texococo.
A wreath of oak and olive branches wrap around the bottom of the design. Wrapping around the top of the design, in large letters, is the legend ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS (“United Mexican States”). To the right of the eagle and canted at a 40-degree angle is the date, 1921.
On 1921 “21 over 11” overdates, the lead digit “1” can be seen faintly underneath the 2.
Offset slightly top-of-center is the Aztec Sun Stone, commonly understood as a calendar of sorts and one of the most well-known works of Aztec art. Wrapping around the bottom of the stone is the coin’s denomination, written as VEINTE PESOS (“Twenty Pesos”). Below and between two five-pointed stars: 15 Gr. ORO PURO (“15 grams of pure gold”). Dentils encircle the design, recessed slightly below the plane of the coin’s rim.
Smooth edge with inscription INDEPENDENCIA Y LIBERTAD (“Independence and Liberty”).
Lance Tchor – Founder & Co-President of WINGS® Coins LLC:
On the typical piece, the top of the eagle’s wings will appear roundish and not fully struck up. Better examples will show more definition here, but it’s unlikely you will find a piece that is fully sharp. Chest detail on the original design uses “hide and seek” to give the impression of more feather detail. Even in the best strikes, these features appear rounded and lacking in definition.
In terms of preservation, most examples come baggy (“bagmarked”). If you come across a bunch of BU examples, the typical example, if graded, will come back MS61-62. Better pieces, MS63. In MS64, the coin is scarce. Raw Uncirculated examples remain in the wild and turn up at coin shops when bullion stackers cash out of their metals. Since so many people think of this issue as a bullion coin, its possible to get the scarcer circulating issues from 1917-1921 for prevailing spot prices.
I advise to pick them up for two reasons: the original issues are not common like people think (they were massively melted) and there is a collector base for them. Treat issues “struck” in 1959 as bullion. To earn a WINGS gold sticker, the coin must exhibit very strong eye appeal for the grade and be free of distracting hits in focal areas.
|Year Of Issue:||1921|
|Mintage:||921,500 (incl. 1921/11 Overdates)|
|Alloy:||90% Gold, 10% Copper|
|Edge:||Inscribed: INDEPEDENCIA Y LIBERTAD|
* * *
 Schein, Allan. Mexican Beauty: Un Peso Caballito. Self Published. Salt Lake City, Utah. 2014. 38.