Mexico 1769-Mo grano

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Ponterio sale 177, lot 13279
Mexico 1769 grano rev P177-13279.jpg
This specimen was lot 13279 in Ponterio sale 177 (Chicago, August 2013), where it did not sell. The catalog description[1] noted,

"MEXICO. Pattern Grano, 1769. NGC EF-45 BN. RARE and very interesting. Struck in copper. Most traditional references suggest these types are patterns with the attribution as such being purely speculative. In fact even the attribution of the denomination as Grano for the 1769 issues is purely speculative as this denomination had never seen use in Mexico before and is based purely on the presence of “Go” to the left of the shield. Further, some authors have even suggested these pieces were produced for use in the Philippines. It is possible that these are actually part of a very rare and short lived issue intended for circulation in Mexico rather than patterns.

The first piece of evidence is that no other Spanish Colonial patterns bear the “Mo” mintmark. For instance, the 1729 pattern for the pillar 8 Reales bears the mintmark of Madrid. Also, all other Charles III patterns were submitted directly from Spain and either bearing the Madrid mintmark or a large “N” in place. It is also interesting to note that the Charles III copper series is nearly always found in well circulated condition, often corroded. This is not typical of a coinage that was produced for pattern purposes, but more indicative of a currency intended for circulation. Perhaps the reason for its short lived nature is that Charles III hired Tomas Francisco Prieto to superintend all of the mints in his kingdom, in order to unify the coinage. Prieto designed the new portrait coinage for Charles III and supplied all of the mints with patterns dated 1770 that were produced in Spain. Full denomination sets of uniface patterns were shipped to the new world mints along with new equipment for the production of the new unified bust coinage. The unification of the New World mints seems like a logical reason to do away with a subsidiary copper coinage that was being produced by only one of the mints the previous year. The likeliest answer is that this series is a short lived issue intended for circulation rather than a pattern series.

Other theories include the possibility of it being a pattern struck at Mexico City and submitted back to Spain for consideration as a circulation issue for the Philippines. The iconography of the Grano series is of particular interest. Although similar motifs exist for earlier medals of Mexico City, I believe this to be the first actual coin to depict a bird perched atop a cactus. Perhaps even more interesting is the presence of three globes at the base. We interpret this as a representation of the Spanish sphere of influence. Hence the three globes represent Spanish Old World, Spanish New World and Spanish Orient (Philippines)."

This was another failed experiment to circulate base metal coinage in the Spanish American colonies, which situation must have annoyed the authorities no end when they saw large quantities of copper coins circulate in Brazil.

Recorded mintage: Unknown.

Specification: copper.

Catalog reference: Cal-type-pg. 160#1870. KM-PnD1 (not listed in most editions of the SCWC; see the edition cited below).


  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.
  • [1]Ponterio, Richard, Ponterio sale 177: The August 2013 Chicago ANA Auction, World Coins, Irvine, CA: Stack's Bowers, LLC, 2013.

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