Tag Archives: Gold

Gold 20 Peso coin from Mexico dated 1959

This coin is in excellent shape. It was graded BU by the seller, and I think it would slab out at MS-62 or MS-63. It was also quite a splurge; I grabbed it on a whim just because it was darn pretty and the seller who displayed it had no qualms about using her bare hands to handle it. Had to save this dusky little beauty from such abuse!

Coin - Mexico - 20 Peso - 1959 Obverse

Coin – Mexico – 20 Peso – 1959 Obverse

The obverse shows a famous Aztec stone – the Cuauhxicalli. This monumental piece is believed to have been carved around 1479 during the reign of the 6th Aztec ruler. The Cuauhxicalli is also known as the Sun Stone, Aztec Calendar, Stone of the Five Eras, and Eagle Bowl. It is huge – at almost a 12 foot diameter, it weighs more than 24 tons. It has a similar design and pattern to other Aztec sacrificial altar decorations & may at one time have been used for holding bodies or body parts. The piece was buried shortly after the Spanish conquest, hidden under earth in the Zócalo (main square) of Mexico City. In 1760, it was unearthed and placed as a decoration in the Western tower of the metropolitan Cathedral, where it remained for 125 years. In 1885, it was transferred to the national Museum of Archaeology and History by order of the President of the Republic, General Porfirio Diaz. The Cuauhxicali takes up most of the center to the top of the obverse. Below it is the denomination “Veinte Pesos”. Below that is the legend “*15 Gr. ORO PURO*”

Coin - Mexico - 20 Peso - 1959 Reverse

Coin – Mexico – 20 Peso – 1959 Reverse

On the reverse, the dominant image is of an eagle feasting on a snake while perched on a prickly pear cactus. The legend reads clockwise from just before 9:00 to just after 3:00 “Estados Unidos Mexicanos”. The date is placed diagonally behind/below the eagles posterior.

Identification code: Mexico KM-478

Date: 1959* (see blow, under mintage)

Mint Mark: n/a

Mintage: Approximately 13,000 were minted in 1959. But, according to NGC, there were extensive restrikes with the old date still being used. “During 1960-1971 a total of 1,158,414 pieces were restruck, most likely dated 1959. In 1996 matte restrikes were produced. An additional 78,000 pieces dated 1959 were struck in 2000-2009”. That gives a total mintage of approximately 1,249,414 to date (with more possibly on the way).

Country of origin: Mexico

Composition: 90% gold (& 10% copper?)

Size: 27.5 mm diameter, 2 mm thick

Weight: 16.6 grams (for 15g or 0.4823 troy oz of pure gold / AGW (Actual Gold Weight))

Other details: 90% gold purity has proven a difficult sell. Many collectors prefer items with 99.9, 99.99, or 99.999% gold purity due to reduced storage & security costs. After all, a 90% gold coin also has 10% of base metal, which is “wasted” space in a storage vault or safe. The US mint had a short lived American Arts medal series in 90% gold in the 80’s, but abandoned it to focus on “purer” issues with extremely low face values. (As I write this, 20 pesos are worth approximately $1.32 US, while US bullion gold coins run from $5 to $100 face values).

One theory about why the denominations are so bizarrely low is that governments could theoretically seize the assets & redeem them only at face value. Since the 1959 peso has been demonetized (and the neuvo peso that replaced it has been demonetized too) that seems a bit odd in this case. Just something to bear in mind.

90% gold content was historically how coins were minted for most of the 19th century. Purer gold content was possible, but led to rapid wear and tear in consumers pockets. As this coin was minted long after gold coinage was in regular use, it’s gold ratio may simply be a historical nod.

Estimated Value: $625 with gold just under ~$1200/oz

Iran 1974 1/2 Pahlavi Gold Coin

This coin is one of the few gold coins that I own – it’s only 4 grams and just a little bigger than a US dime. It’s in uncirculated condition. I would grade it MS61 (and am probably on the conservative side).

Coin - Iran - Half Pahlavi - 1974 01

Coin – Iran – Half Pahlavi – 1974 01

The obverse shows a bust of the Shah, facing to the left. There’s Arabic writing from 9:00 to 3:00, and the date is at the bottom, from 7:00 to 5:00.

Coin - Iran - Half Pahlavi - 1974 03

Coin – Iran – Half Pahlavi – 1974 03

On the reverse, a wreath encloses a lion passant to the left. The lion holds a scimitar up in the air with its leaning paw and a crown hovers over the lion at 12:00.

Identification code: Iran KM-1161 / Y142 : Minted from AH1330-1353

Date: AH1353 = 1974

Mint Mark: n/a

Mintage: unknown (but probably moderately large). This was the last year of mintage, and one of only a few where mintage was not recorded. In previous years, mintages ran from 30,000 to 132,000

Country of origin: Iran

Composition: 90% Gold / 10% Copper

Size: 19 mm

Weight: 4.068g

Estimated Value: $188 with gold at ~$1564/oz

Coin - Iran - Half Pahlavi - 1974 02

Coin – Iran – Half Pahlavi – 1974 02

Coin - Iran - Half Pahlavi - 1974 04

Coin – Iran – Half Pahlavi – 1974 04


Modern Islamic Gold and Silver Coins

The Malaysian state of Kelantan recently began to issue gold and silver currency for use in circulation. The new gold 8 dinar and silver 10 dirham have values of approximately $1511 and $10 each. Only a few thousand of the coins have been produced so far, but the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party is pushing local businesses to adopt the currency as an alternative to the Malaysian Ringgit.

Kelantan Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham

Kelantan Gold Dinar and Silver Dirham

At this small scale, minting Islamic silver and gold is almost pure political theater. The coins are likely to have marginal effect on the local economy. Even if all of the coins minted are the silver variety, there will still be only about 1 coin per resident of Kelantan.

The coin specs are a bit hard to pin down, but they appear to be as follows:

Islamic Dinar: 4.25 grams of 22k gold (0.1374 oz AGW)

Kelantan Gold 8 Dinar: 34 grams of 22k gold (1.0991 oz AGW), 32mm diameter

Kelantan Silver 10 Dirham: 10 grams of 99.9% pure silver (0.3527 oz ASW), 41mm diameter

Other sizes may also be available, but these 8 Dinar and 10 Dirham seem to be the primary issues.

Long term implications:

These coins are likely to appear on the collector market and may trade for a premium over their precious metal content. Both the gold and silver coins will likely be produced in very small quantities, which will drive up their rarity. The first run was only 150,000 coins and sold out almost immediately. On a related note; the fineness of these coins is an unknown quantity – while the Kelantan mint will have strong incentives to ensure purity, there is a risk of fraud and counterfeiting.

Similar Islamic bullion coins have been minted in Indonesia for use in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. These coins have been marketed as compliant with Shariah Law, and are promoted by clerics worldwide. Prominent supporters in London, South Africa, and Canada tout Islamic gold dinars as compliant with Islamic principles of money lending, which forbids charging interest (‘Riba’ ). Islamic banks often ask for a share of profits from the companies that they lend to (‘Mudarabha’), instead of charging fees and fixed interest rates.

In related news, Virginia and Georgia are also trying to return to the gold and silver standard. Isn’t it interesting that the Tea Party and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party are pushing the same monetary policy?


Medal – 1929 German Zeppelin Commemorative in Gold

This gallery contains 4 photos.

This gold medal celebrates the first circumnavigation of the globe by airship. In 1929, the Graf Zeppelin airship flew all the way around the world carrying passengers at a time when airplanes were still only flown by daredevils and could … Continue reading