By Chris Chatigny – Numismatist & Cataloger, Stack’s Bowers ……
The January New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) and the Showcase Auction held by Stack’s Bowers Galleries will usher in 2019 for numismatists from around the United States and the world. Coin dealers and collectors will be in attendance at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan for a week’s worth of lectures, auctions and showroom activities.
In anticipation of this event, we are previewing select highlight coins from the auction on our blog and through our newsletter email. The first highlight is the single-finest-certified Mexico City Mint Hookneck 8 Reales. The Hookneck series of Mexico has a long and highly interesting history, best told by Clyde Hubbard and David O’Harrow in Hookneck published in 1997. This thorough study has remained a top resource for this series. As described in the book, the Hookneck (or profile eagle) silver Reales series pieces were minted in 1823, 1824 and 1825 at the mints of Mexico City, Guanajuato and Durango. However, no one mint produced this style for more than two years.
The obverse design features a Phrygian cap, a symbol taken from the French Revolution which based their idea of a “Liberty Cap” on a misrepresentation of the Roman Pileus, which was a similarly shaped hat that freed slaves would wear. The cap is inscribed at the top “LIBERTAD” (Liberty). The lower inscription provides the information necessary for circulating coinage: “8 R. Mo. 1824. JM. 10 Ds. 20 Gs.” These symbols stand for: 8 Reales, Mexico City (as a mintmark), the date of 1824, the initials of the assayer of the Mexico City Mint from 1822 to 1832, and finally the fineness, represented as 10 Dineros, 20 Granos. The reverse design displays an eagle in profile standing atop a cactus, facing left. It holds in its talon the tail end of a snake with the upper portion of the snake in the eagle’s beak.
There are many varieties of this issue, with Clyde Hubbard and David O’Harrow’s reference work illuminating the many intricacies. The legend “REPUBLICA MEXICANA” appears above the eagle, with a laurel and oak wreath around the lower edge, below the eagle and cactus design.
This example ranks among the finest strikes that we have ever encountered on a Hookneck 8 Reales from Mexico City, showcasing full crispness within the script Libertad and impressive delineation of the rays that beam from the cap. The eagle side is no less desirable, as close inspection confirms sharp separation of the feathers up to the highest points of the design on the eagle’s left leg. The surface quality is also superb, with no marks of any consequence and delicate sunset-amber and gray tone over both sides. The underlying luster remains undiminished, as one might expect from a near-Gem, and is of beautiful quality on both sides. From a technical standpoint, this is easily the finest Hookneck from the Mexico City Mint that we recall seeing; its finest graded status at PCGS and NGC seem to corroborate this observation.
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We are currently accepting consignments of world and ancient coins and world paper money for our January 2019 New York International Auction, as well as the February 2019 Collector’s Choice Online Auction. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our March 2019 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact one of our consignment directors.