Mexico 1732-Mo 1/2 real

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image courtesy Stack's Bowers
from Stack's Bowers 2017 NYINC sale, lot 3121
Mexico SB117-3121r.jpg

This 1732 1/2 real from the Mexico City mint is an example of the first design for pillar fractionals, where the obverse legend surrounds the periphery. In addition, this unique type does not display the denomination or assayers' initials on either side of the shield. Those elements were added later in 1732, and in 1742 the design was changed again, allowing the crown to extend to the rim. Gilboy[1] lists this variety as extremely rare, with only a few pieces known to exist. The first specimen was lot 435 in Stacks Bowers Winter 2014 Baltimore sale, where it sold for $2,115. The catalog description[2] noted, "MEXICO. 1/2 Real, 1732-Mo. Philip V (1700-46). NGC Good Details--Scratches. Without assayer's letter. VERY RARE first year of issue. Much nicer looking than the grade designated by NGC, some of the letters across the pillars are still visible. From the David Gray Collection. Ex: Ponterio & Associates Sale #130, Lot #656." The second specimen was lot 3121 in Stack's Bowers NYINC sale (New York, January 2017), where it sold for $4,700. The catalog description[3] noted, "MEXICO. 1/2 Real, 1732. Philip V (17004). NGC VF-35. VERY RARE first year of issue for pillar coinage without assayer letter. Good Strike on a compact slightly oblong flan. Very pleasant with all elements present and none overly worn or erased. Surfaces toned to medium gray. A fantastic addition to any collection which is offered in decent problem free grades such as this all too rarely."

Mexican numismatists hotly debate which side of the coin constitutes the obverse. Gilboy[1] depicts the shield side as the obverse as that side bears the king's name. However, auction catalogs and dealer listings more frequently use the pillars and globes side as the obverse, as that side bears the date.

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 1.67 grams, 0.917 fine silver, 0.049 troy oz ASW.

Catalog reference: Cayón-8228, Cal-type-289#1851; Gilboy M-05-1, KM 65.


  • [1]Gilboy, Frank F., The Milled Columnarios of Central and South America: Spanish American Pillar Coinage, 1732 to 1772, Regina, Saskatchewan: Prairie Wind Publishing, 1999.
  • Yonaka, Brad, A Variety Guide to the Fractional Pillar Coinage of Mexico City, 1732-1771, Long Beach, CA: Agorocu Consulting, 2017.
  • [2]Ponterio, Richard, and Kent Ponterio, Stack's Bowers Galleries, The Winter 2014 Baltimore Auction, Baltimore, MD: Stack's Bowers, 2014.
  • Harper, David C., ed., North American Coins & Prices: A Guide to U. S., Canadian and Mexican Coins, 17th Ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2007.
  • Harris, Robert P., Pillars & Portraits, San José, CA: Bonanza Press, 1968.
  • Cayón, Adolfo, Clemente Cayón and Juan Cayón, Las Monedas Españolas, del Tremis al Euro: del 411 a Nuestros Dias, 2 volumes, Madrid: Cayón-Jano S.L., 2005.
  • Calicó, Xavier, Numismática Española: Catálogo General con Precios de Todas las Monedas Españolas Acuñadas desde Los Reyes Católicos Hasta Juan Carlos I, 1474 a 2001, Barcelona: Aureo & Calicó, 2008.
  • [3]Ponterio, Richard, The January 2017 NYINC Sale: Ancient Coins, World Coins & Paper Money, featuring the Richard Stuart Collection, Santa Ana, CA: Stack's Bowers LLC, 2016.

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