On the coinage of the Guadalupe y Calvo mint

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Known dates of coinage

Date ¼ R ½ R 1 R 2 R 4 R 8 R ½ E 1 E 2 E 4 E 8 E
1849 . MP MP MP MP MP . MP MP . MP
1851 . MP MP MP MP MP MP MP . . MP
1852 . . . . . MP . . . . MP

The table to the right lists the known dates from Guadalupe y Calvo for 1844-52. A period (".") in the cell indicates none known for that year. Dark blue text within a cell indicates a link to an article on that issue.

Dunigan and Parker[1] commented as follows:

"Named in Honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the governor of the State José Joaquin Calvo, the city of Guadalupe y Calvo is in the southernmost part of the state of Chihuahua. Located 327 miles south of the capital city, Chihuahua, at an altitude of 7,643 feet, Guadalupe y Calvo was in a remote, but very rich mining area. Its remoteness was one of the principal reasons that local mining interests pressed for the establishment of a mint. The nearest mint was in Chihuahua and transporting bullion there was difficult and dangerous. There were frequent attacks by Apache and Comanche Indians,as well as local bandits. On 30 October, 1842 Dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna authorized a ten year lease to the British firm Mackintosh & Company, operating as Compania Minera Mexicana de Guadalupe y Calvo. The mint opened 1 June, 1844. As specified in the lease, the original matrices were provided by the Mexico City mint.

"In late 1847 Guadalupe y Calvo became the first mint in the Republic of Mexico to employ steam powered presses for the minting of coins. This important event is commemorated by a medal dated 1 December, 1847 bearing the name of the mint director Tomas Mackintosh. This followed by only eleven years the introduction of steam press technology at the Philadelphia mint.

"In 1849 the lease passed to Jecker Torre y Cia., who, at the same time, also took over the lease for the mint at Culiacan. There were numerous administrative problems at the mint. Finally, coinage operations ceased in April, 1852 and the doors were closed 22 May, 1852. Some of the modern equipment purchased for this mint found its way to Chihuahua where it was installed ca. 1860."

Mint ½ E 1 E 2 E 4 E 8 E
A . . . . 51
Ca . . . . 751
C 321 119 42 8 1394
Do 342 104 1 7 867
EoMo . . 8 7 33
Ga 120 236 307 5 132
GC 136 79 13 12 348
Go 390 90 76 455 4482
Ho . . 3 . 294
Mo 1552 355 249 389 1664
O . . . 1 316
Zs 91 73 28 27 442
total 2952 1046 727 904 10,765
Buttrey and Hubbard[2] noted,
"Guadalupe y Calvo (GC) a small mining town in the state of Chihuahua, came into being as the result of the opening of gold and silver mines in the mid-1830's. The mint was established in 1843 to take advantage of the ores immediately at hand. The annual average total of coinage was approximately $650,000, about half again as much as the production of the mint at the state capital, Chihuahua, during the same period. But the ore soon began to give out and the mint was closed in 1852. All denominations of the real/escudo silver and gold were struck at Guadalupe y Calvo but many varieties are quite scarce."

Long[3] compiled a census of early gold coins of the Republic, which we have summarized in the second table. It appears that while Guadalupe y Calvo is in no case the rarest mint for each gold denomination, its products are still scarce. As Long stated in his book, the numbers given are not the numbers believed to exist (figures impossible to determine) but the number offered for sale over the period 1973-2003, including multiple offerings of the same specimen.

Postcard view of the old mint
Map of the mints of Chihuahua, adapted from (7)
location of the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo in Chihuahua state
1916 map of the mining areas around Guadalupe y Calvo, Mexico

The assayers initials MP stand for Manuel Onofre Parodi, the only known assayer for the mint. His initials also appear on some very rare eight reales of 1866 from the Hermosillo mint and the Culiacan eight reales of 1873-75.

Current mining efforts

The Lincoln Mining Group today holds concessions in the Guadalupe y Calvo mining district. Their website[4] noted,


"Historical production in the district extended largely from 1834 to 1939 and came mostly from high-grade epithermal quartz breccia veins at the underground Rosario Mine. Past production is estimated at 2 million ozs gold and 28 million ozs silver with ore averaging 37 gpt (1.08 opt) Au plus 870 gpt (27 opt) Ag with excellent metallurgy. The ores were so rich that the Mexican government established a mint in Guadalupe y Calvo. This mint is still present as a museum.

"Multiple small, underground workings occur along the Santo Niño vein in the southern portion of the La Bufa property. Historic workings include the Monte Cristo shaft, El Chapito mine, and Santo Niño adit. All workings are collapsed.

"Geology & Mineralization

"The geology of the Guadalupe y Calvo district consists of two main groups of volcanic rocks typical of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The “Lower Volcanics” (38 to 65 million years) are dominated by stocks, flows, and tuffs of mafic to intermediate composition. The “Upper Volcanics” (25 to 38 million years) are dominated by extrusive flows and tuffs of intermediate to silicic composition and may occur as dikes and small intrusive bodies. The “Upper Volcanics” are the dominant rock type on the La Bufa Property with erosional windows of “Lower Volcanics” locally exposed on the property. Lower Volcanic Group rocks are the host to nearly all the major gold-silver deposits found in the Sierra Madre to date."

Recent violence

The area today is not free from violence. CNN reported[5],
"Mexico City, Mexico (CNN) -- Gunmen ambushed the mayor of a Mexican municipality on Wednesday night, killing him and one of his bodyguards and wounding another escort, a government news agency reported. Four other people were injured in the attack that killed Ramon Mendivil Sotelo, the mayor of Guadalupe y Calvo in southern Chihuahua state, the official Notimex news agency said. The mayor was returning to Guadalupe y Calvo when gunmen in at least two vehicles started firing on his pickup truck, which lost control and struck a car. The four injured people -- two adults and two minors -- were traveling in the car that was hit by the mayor's truck, Notimex said. The 6:30 p.m. attack occurred at about the same time that Mexican President Felipe Calderon was holding a meeting in Ciudad Juarez, also in Chihuahua state. Calderon's visit, the second to Juarez in a week, was held to highlight the violence in the troubled city across the border from El Paso, Texas. The mayor and the slain police official were shot more than 20 times each during the 10-minute gun battle, the Heraldo de Chihuahua newspaper said. No motive was immediately given for the crime, nor were any arrests reported. Chihuahua election officials were investigating Mendivil Sotelo over allegations that he used public funds to publish a letter congratulating a candidate for governor, the State Electoral Institute notes on its Web site. Local media reported that Mendivil Sotelo testified before the electoral panel last month that neither he nor his office had anything to do with the letter, published in El Diario de Chihuahua."

Aboriginal inhabitants

The area was long inhabited by Indians. Everyculture.com commented[6],

Today's relative obscurity belies an apparently long and once prominent Tepehuan regional presence. The Tepehuan of Chihuahua are the northern descendants of an aboriginal group whose broad territory ranged from north of the Río Verde in Chihuahua southward through Durango into the contemporary states of Nayarit and Jalisco. Archival evidence suggests that at the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the Tepehuan were probably the largest and most important tribe in the Sierra Madre Occidental. About half a millennium before the Conquest, their ancestors hunted and gathered in the desert region near the border between Arizona and Sonora before migrating, along with other Southern Uto-Aztecan groups, southward into the mountainous regions of northwestern Mexico, where they began to rely on farming.

"After the Conquest of central Mexico, Spaniards moved northward, mining and establishing haciendas and missions in Zacatecas and Durango. In Durango, they ruptured the unity of Northern and Southern Tepehuan by eliminating the central Durango groups northward to Chihuahua. By the end of the sixteenth century, a few miners, missionaries, and soldiers had penetrated southern Chihuahua. The Franciscans, in 1560, were the first order to work with the Tepehuan in the Santa Barbara region of southern Chihuahua. The Jesuits previously ministered to the Tepehuan in central and southern Durango. They entered the northern territory in 1610 and began congregating the Tepehuan into mission towns, and, by 1708, had established missions at Baborigame, Nabogame, and Guadalupe y Calvo. Over a hundred years of isolation followed the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. The overextended Franciscans, now responsible for the whole region, maintained modest sway. The Jesuits returned at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Tepehuan are usually described as "nominally Catholic," given that the religion practiced is an amalgamation of Hispanic and indigenous elements. Some indigenous groups do not practice any form of Catholicism. Perhaps the most important consequence of Tepehuan relations with the Church is the local acquisition of European plants, livestock, and technology.

"The convergence of Indian and mestizo culture was a process driven by the economic exploitation of resources. Chihuahua's first mine and first hacienda were established by thirty Spanish families in 1575, initiating mining and grazing as the future primary industries of the region. Sometimes Indians worked in mines and farms out of choice, but more often they were forced laborers or slaves. At first, wool clothing was a great attraction to volunteer laborers, but impressed labor and harsh treatment soon became unbearable. Beginning in the first decade of the seventeenth century, uprisings led by the Tepehuan resulted in severe repression by the Spaniards. Soon, Santa Barbara, with 7,000 inhabitants, became the largest town in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, even larger than the city of Durango, to the south. From this outpost, the subjugation of the northern territory continued over the next century. The whole of the seventeenth century was one of revolt across the northern frontier by practically every Indian group living north of Durango. Spaniards retreated to protected outposts. Priests met martyrdom. Soon these rebellions were put down, and in the nineteenth century northward expansion continued. Mines, new towns, and presidios, were created, the Jesuits were expelled, and all indigenous peoples—except for a few remote groups—were generally pacified.

"Excluding a few settlements such as those at Baborigame and Guadalupe y Calvo, the region of the northern Tepehuan remained mostly isolated and little settled, which allowed the indigenous people to follow a simple subsistence pattern of life relatively unmolested. Even during the turbulent nineteenth century, when revolution and independence consumed most of Mexico, the indigenous people were left very much alone by a Mexico otherwise occupied. Independence from Spain in 1821 resulted in much infighting in the central government, as opposing parties competed for control. Lack of funds meant that soldiers on the far northern frontier were not paid, and it was difficult to influence politics in such remote regions without providing the minimum of services. For Mexico, the nineteenth century culminated in the loss of more than one-third of its territory to the United States. During the nineteenth century, Apache invaders began to drive a wedge between the people living in the high Sierra and the Pima Alta cultures in the north. As mountain dwellers, the Northern Tepehuan, like the Tarahumara, were able to defend themselves against displacement by these Apache raiders. Mostly, however, they were far removed from the major centers of Apache raiding in northern Chihuahua.

"The twentieth century has been even less auspicious. The Tepehuan have remained isolated, except for recent decades. In 1952 there was an attempt to bring the Tepehuan into the fold of mainstream culture and economy when the federal government installed an Indian Coordinating Center at Guachochi, across the Río Verde from the Tepehuan homeland. Through the Center, the National Indian Institute has followed a policy of assimilation. It administers various social and welfare services but is hampered by the remoteness of the region. In southwestern Chihuahua, Indians are outnumbered by mestizos by as much as three to one and this ratio increased as economic enterprises grew in the 1970 and 1980s. Logging in this densely forested area has become particularly important as an alternative to the heavily exploited Tarahumara woodlands north of the Río Verde. Forest roads and a paved highway from Parral to Guadalupe y Calvo have also opened the region to the negative impacts of illegal drug harvesting and transportation. Drug traffickers are having a profound impact on local indigenous groups, and many Indians are fleeing to more remote regions to follow a hunting-and-gathering mode of life."


  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • [2]Buttrey, T. V., and Clyde Hubbard, A Guide Book of Mexican Coins, 1822 to date, 6th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1992.
  • [1]Dunigan, Mike, and J. B. Parker, Resplandores: Cap and Ray 8 Reales of The Republic of Mexico, 1823-1897, Beverly Hills, CA: Superior Stamp & Coin, 1997.
  • [3]Long, Richard A., Gold Coins of the Early Mexican Republic, 1823-1873, North Bend, OR: Wegferd Publications, 2004.
  • Rollo, J. Robert, Two Escudos of the Republic of Mexico, 1825-1870, A Study of Die Varieties, Kerrville, TX: 2007.
  • [4]report on the website of the Lincoln Mining Group of Vancouver, Canada. Downloaded May 16, 2010, from [1]
  • [5]CNN report, February 18, 2010, downloaded from [2]
  • [6] downloaded from [3]
  • [7]Garcia Cubas, Antonio (1832-1912), Atlas geografico y estadistico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Mexico City: Debray Sucesores, 1886.

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