Mexican peso

Mexican peso

The peso (sign: $; code: MXN) is the currency of Mexico. The symbol used for the peso is "$", basically the same as for the US dollar since the dollar derived its logo from the Spanish-Mexican currency. It is one of the top most traded currencies in the world. The current ISO 4217 code for the peso is MXN; prior to the 1993 revaluation (see below), the code MXP was used. The peso is subdivided into 100 centavos, represented by "¢". The name was originally used in reference to pesos oro (gold weights) or pesos plata (silver weights). The translation of peso from spanish to english is weight.


First peso

The peso was initially the name of the eight-real coins issued in Mexico by Spain. These were the so-called Spanish dollars or pieces of eight in wide circulation in the Americas and Asia from the height of the Spanish Empire until the early 19th century. After Mexico gained its independence in 1821, the new government continued the Spanish monetary system of 16 silver reales = 1 gold escudo, with the peso of 8 reales the largest silver coin. Paper money was also issued, denominated in pesos.

In 1863, the first issue was made of coins denominated in centavos, worth one hundredth of the peso. This was followed in 1866 by coins denominated "one peso". Coins denominated in reales continued to be issued until 1897. In 1905, the gold content of the peso was reduced by 49.3% but the silver content of the peso remained initially unchanged (subsidiary coins were debased). However, from 1918 onward, the weight and fineness of all the silver coins declined, until 1977, when the last silver 100-peso coins were minted.

Second peso

Throughout most of the 20th century, the Mexican peso remained one of the most stable currencies in Latin America, since the economy did not experience periods of hyperinflation common to other countries in the region. However, after the Oil Crisis of the late 1970s, Mexico defaulted on its external debt in 1982 and experienced several years of inflation and devaluation until a government economic strategy called the "Stability and Economic Growth Pact" (Pacto de estabilidad y crecimiento económico, PECE) was adopted under President Carlos Salinas. On 1 January 1993, the Bank of Mexico introduced a new currency, the nuevo peso ("new peso", or MXN), written "N$" followed by the numerical amount. One new peso, or N$1.00, was equal to 1000 of the obsolete MXP pesos.

On January 1 1996, the modifier nuevo was dropped from the name and new coins and banknotes – identical in every respect to the 1993 issue, with the exception of the now absent word "nuevo" – were put into circulation. The ISO 4217 code, however, remained unchanged as MXN.

Thanks to the stability of the Mexican economy and the growth in foreign investment, the Mexican peso is now among the 15 most traded currency units in the world, and is the most traded currency in Latin America. It has been fairly stable for the last few years; since the late 1990s the peso has traded at about $9 to $10 to the U.S. dollar. This makes it relatively easy to convert from dollars to pesos and back; the 50¢ coin (tostón) is worth about the same as a U.S. nickel, and a 200-peso note about USD $20.

Use outside Mexico

The Spanish dollar or Mexican peso was widely used in the early United States. By a decree of July 6, 1785, the value of the United States dollar was set to approximately match the Spanish dollar, both of which were based on the weight of silver in the coins. The first U.S. dollar coins were not issued until April 2, 1792, and the peso continued to be officially recognized and used, along with other foreign coins, until February 21, 1857. In Canada, it remained legal tender, along with other foreign silver coins, until 1854 and continued to circulate beyond that date. The Mexican peso also served as the model for the Straits dollar, the Hong Kong dollar, the Japanese yen and the Chinese yuan. The term yuan refers to the round Spanish dollars, Mexican pesos and other 8 reales silver coins which saw use in China during the 19th century.


19th century

The first coins of the peso currency were 1 centavo pieces minted in 1863. Emperor Maximilian, ruler of the Second Mexican Empire from 1864-1867, minted the first coins with the legend "peso" on them. His portrait was on the obverse, with the legend "Maximiliano Emperador;" the reverse shows the imperial arms and the legends "Imperio Mexicano" and "1 Peso" and the date. They were struck from 1866 to 1867.

The New Mexican republic continued to strike the 8 reales piece, but also began minting coins denominated in centavos and pesos. In addition to copper 1 centavo coins, silver (.903 fineness) coins of 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 peso were introduced between 1867 and 1869. Gold 1, 2½, 5, 10 and 20-peso coins were introduced in 1870. The obverses featured the Mexican 'eagle' and the legend "Republica Mexicana." The reverses of the larger coins showed a pair of scales; those of the smaller coins, the denomination. One-peso coins were made from 1869 to 1873, when 8 reales coins resumed production. In 1882, cupro-nickel 1, 2 and 5 centavos coins were issued but they were only minted for two years. The 1 peso was reintroduced in 1898, with the Phrygian, or liberty cap design being carried over from the 8 reales.

20th century

In 1905 a monetary reform was carried out in which the gold content of the peso was reduced by 49.36% and the silver coins were (with the exception of the 1 peso) reduced to token issues. Bronze 1 and 2 centavos, nickel 5 centavos, silver 10, 20 and 50 centavos and gold 5 and 10 pesos were issued.

In 1910, a new peso coin was issued, the famous "Caballito", considered one of the most beautiful of Mexican coins. The obverse had the Mexican official coat of arms (an eagle with a snake in its beak, standing on a cactus plant) and the legends "Estados Unidos Mexicanos" and "Un Peso." The reverse showed a woman riding a horse, her hand lifted high in exhortation, and the date. These were minted in .903 silver from 1910 to 1914.

Between 1917 and 1919, the gold coinage was expanded to include 2, 2½ and 20-peso coins. However, circulation issues of gold ceased in 1921. In 1918, the peso coin was debased, bringing it into line with new silver 10, 20 and 50 centavos coins. All were minted in .800 fineness to a standard of 14.5 g to the peso. The liberty cap design, already on the other silver coins, was applied to the peso. Another debasement in 1920 reduced the fineness to .720 with 12 g of silver to the peso. Bronze 10 and 20 centavos coins were introduced in 1919 and 1920, but coins of those denominations were also minted in silver until 1935 and 1943, respectively.

In 1947, a new issue of silver coins was struck, with the 50 centavos and 1 peso in .500 fineness and a new 5-peso coin in .900 fineness. A portrait of José María Morelos appeared on the 1 peso and this was to remain a feature of the 1-peso coin until its demise. The silver content of this series was 5.4 g to the peso. This was reduced to 4 g in 1950, when .300 fineness 25 and 50-centavo and 1-peso coins were minted alongside .720 fineness 5 pesos. A new portrait of Morelos appeared on the 1 peso, with Cuauhtemoc on the 50 centavos and Miguel Hidalgo on the 5 pesos. No reference was made to the silver content except on the 5 pesos.

In 1955, bronze 50 centavos were introduced, along with smaller 5-peso coins and a new 10-peso coin. In 1957, new 1-peso coins were issued in .100 silver. This series contained 2.6 g of silver per peso. A special 1 peso was minted in 1957 to commemorate Benito Juárez and the constitution of 1857. These were the last silver pesos. The 5-peso coin now weighed 18 grams and was still 0.720 silver; the 10-peso coin weighed 28 grams and was in 0.900 silver.

Between 1970 and 1974, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of brass 1 and 5 centavos, cupro-nickel 10, 20 and 50 centavos, 1, 5 and 10 pesos and silver 25 pesos (only issued 1972). In 1977, silver 100 pesos were issued for circulation. In 1980, smaller 5-peso coins were introduced alongside 20 pesos and (from 1982) 50 pesos in cupro-nickel. Between 1983 and 1985, the sizes of the coins for 20 centavos and above were reduced. Base metal 100, 200, 500 ,1000 and 5000-peso coins were introduced between 1984 and 1988.

Nuevo peso

In 1993, coins of the new currency (dated 1992) were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 nuevos pesos. The 5 and 10 centavos were minted in stainless steel and the 20 and 50 centavos in aluminium bronze. The nuevo peso denominations were bimetallic, with the 1, 2 and 5 nuevos pesos having aluminium bronze centres and stainless steel rings, and the 10, 20 and 50 nuevos pesos having .925 silver centers and aluminium bronze rings. In 1996, the word nuevo(s) was removed from the coins. New 10 pesos were introduced with base metal replacing the silver centre. The 20 and 50-peso coins are the only currently circulating coinage in the world to contain any silver.

In 2003 the Bank of Mexico began the gradual launch of a new series of bimetallic $100 coins. These number 32 – one for each of the nation's 31 states, plus the Federal District. While the obverse of these coins bears the traditional Coat of arms of Mexico, their reverses show the individual coats of arms of the component states. The first states to be celebrated in this fashion were Zacatecas, Yucatán, Veracruz, and Tlaxcala. In circulation they are extraordinarily rare, but their novelty value offsets the unease most users feel at having such a large amount of money in a single coin. Although the Bank has tried to encourage users to collect full sets of these coins, issuing special display folders for the purpose, the high cost involved has worked against them. Bullion versions of these coins are also available, with the outer ring made of gold, instead of an aluminium bronze.

The coins commonly encountered in circulation have face values of 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10, and $20. The $50, 10¢ and 5¢ coins are rarely seen and largely disliked by users. As of late 2006 and early 2007, the usage of 20¢ coins is also gradually declining. Small commodities are priced in multiples of 10¢, but stores may choose to round the total prices to 50¢. There is also a trend for supermarkets to ask customers to donate those cents to charities so that they can round the amount to 50¢ or 1 peso.

1992 Series
Image Value Technical parameters Description Date of first minting
Diameter Weight Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
15.5 mm 1.58 g Stainless steel
16% ~ 18% chromium
0.75% nickel, maximum
0.12% carbon, maximum
1% silicon, maximum
1% manganese, maximum
0.03% sulfur, maximum
0.04% phosphorus, maximum
remaining of iron
Smooth State title, coat of arms Value, the Quincunces Ring from the Aztec sun stone 1992
10¢ 17 mm 2.08 g Value, the Sacrifice Ring from the Aztec sun stone
20¢ 19.5 mm (shortest)
3.04 g Aluminium bronze
92% copper
6% aluminium
2% nickel
Smooth State title, coat of arms Value, Ácatl (13th day of the Aztec calendar) 1992
50¢ 22 mm
Scalloped shape
4.39 g Value, the Acceptance Ring from the Aztec sun stone
or $1
21 mm 3.95 g
R: 2.14 g
C: 1.81 g
Ring: Stainless steel (as 10¢)
Center: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
Smooth State title, coat of arms Value, the Sunshine Ring from the Aztec sun stone N$: 1992
$: 1996
or $2
23 mm 5.19 g
R: 2.81 g
C: 2.38 g
Value, the (partial) Days Ring from the Aztec sun stone
or $5
25.5 mm 7.07 g
R: 3.82 g
C: 3.25 g
Value, the Snakes Ring from the Aztec sun stone
or $10
28 mm 11.183 g
R: 5.579 g
C: 5.604 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
925‰ silver (1/6oz)
75‰ copper
Milled State title, coat of arms Value, Tonatiuh from the Aztec sun stone at the center 1992
$10 28 mm 10.329 g
R: 5.579 g
C: 4.75 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
65% copper
25% zinc
10% nickel
Milled State title, coat of arms Value, Tonatiuh from the Aztec sun stone at the center 1997
N$20 32 mm 16.996 g
R: 8.59 g
C: 8.406 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
925‰ silver (1/4oz)
75‰ copper
Milled State title, coat of arms Miguel Hidalgo 1993
N$50 39 mm 33.967 g
R: 17.155 g
C: 16.812 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
925‰ silver (1/2oz)
75‰ copper
Milled State title, coat of arms Value, the Hero Cadets of the Battle of Chapultepec
Commemorative Coins (selected)
Image Value Technical parameters Description Date of first minting
Diameter Weight Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
$10 28 mm 10.329 g
R: 5.579 g
C: 4.75 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
65% copper
25% zinc
10% nickel
Inscription State title, coat of arms Value, Tonatiuh from the Aztec sun stone at the center, "AÑO 2000" or "AÑO 2001" instead of "DIEZ PESOS" as commemorative legend 2000
$20 32 mm 15.945 g
R: 8.59 g
C: 7.355 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
Center: Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
Milled State title, coat of arms Xiuhtecuhtli Year 2000, Aztec "New Fire" ceremony 2000
Octavio Paz
$100 39 mm 33.967 g
R: 17.155 g
C: 16.812 g
Ring: Aluminium bronze (as 50¢)
925‰ silver (1/2oz)
75‰ copper
Intermittent milling State title, coat of arms Coats of arms of the 31 States of Mexico and the Federal District
(In reverse alphabetical order)
Culture of the states (e.g. architecture, wildlife, flora, art, science, dances)
(In normal alphabetical order)


First peso

The first banknotes issued by the Mexican state were produced in 1823 by Emperor Iturbide in denominations of 1, 2 and 10 pesos. Similar issues were made by the republican government later the same year. Ten-peso notes were also issued by Emperor Maximilian in 1866 but, until the 1920s, banknote production lay entirely in the hands of private banks and local authorities.

In 1920, the Comisión Monetaria issued 50-centavo and 1-peso note whilst the Bank of Mexico issued 2-peso notes. From 1925, the Bank issued notes for 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos, with 500 and 1000 pesos following in 1931. From 1935, the Bank also issued 1-peso notes and, from 1943, 10,000 pesos.

Production of 1-peso notes ceased in 1970, followed by 5 pesos in 1972, 10 and 20 pesos in 1977, 50 pesos in 1981, 100 pesos in 1982, 500 pesos in 1984 and 1000 pesos in 1985. 5000-peso notes were introduced in 1981, followed by 2000 pesos in 1983, 20,000 pesos in 1985, 50,000 pesos in 1986 and 100,000 pesos in 1988.

Second peso

Series B and C

In 1993, notes were introduced in the new currency for 10, 20, 50, and 100 nuevos pesos. These notes are designated series B by the Bank. (It is important to note that this series designation is not the 1 or 2 letter series label printed on the banknotes themselves.) All were printed with the date 31 July, 1992. The designs were carried over from the corresponding notes of the old peso.

In October 1994, Series C was issued with brand new designs. The word "nuevos" remained. 200 and 500 nuevos pesos were added. All were printed with the date 10 December, 1993.

Series D

The next series of banknotes, designated series D, was introduced in 1996. It is a modified version of series C with the word "nuevos" dropped, the bank title changed from "El Banco de México" to "Banco de México" and the clause "pagará a la vista al portador" removed. There are several printed dates for each denomination. In 2000, a commemorative series was issued which was like series D except for the additional text "75 aniversario 1925-2000" under the bank title. It refers to the 75th anniversary of the Bank. While series D includes the $10 note and is still legal tender, they are no longer printed, seldom seen, and the coin is more common. $10 notes are rarely found in circulation.

Starting from 2001, each denomination in the series was upgraded gradually. On October 15, 2001, in an effort to combat counterfeiting, Series D notes of 50 pesos and above were further modified with the addition of an iridescent strip. On notes of 100 pesos and above, the denomination is printed in color-shifting ink in the top right corner. On September 30, 2002 a new $20 note was introduced. The new $20 is printed on longer-lasting polymer plastic rather than paper. A new $1000 note was issued on November 15, 2004. The Bank of Mexico refers to the $20, $50, and $1000 notes during this wave of change as "series D1".

On April 5, 2004 the Chamber of Deputies approved a measure to demand that the Banco de México produce by January 1, 2006 notes and coins that are identifiable by the blind population (estimated at more than 750,000 visually impaired citizens, including 250,000 that are completely blind).

On December 19, 2005, $100, $200, and $500 MXN banknotes include raised, tactile patterns (like Braille), meant to make them distinguishable for people with vision incapacities. This system has been questioned and many demand that it be replaced by actual Braille so it can be used by foreigners not used to these symbols. The Banco de México, however, says they will continue issuing the symbol bills.

The raised, tactile patterns are as follows:

Value Bill Description of pattern
$100 Five diagonal lines side by side, with a negative slope, each broken up into three segments.
$200 Small broken-up square pattern.
$500 Four horizontal lines under each other, each broken up into three segments.

Series F

In September 2006, it was announced that a new family of banknotes will be launched gradually. The 50-peso denomination in polymer was launched in November 2006. The 20-peso note was launched in August 2007. The 1000-peso note was launched in March 2008.

The launch of the $200 is expected in 2008, and the $100 and $500 notes in 2009. This family is the F Series. {|class="wikitable" style="font-size: 90%" |- !colspan="10"| Series D |- !colspan="2"| Image !!rowspan="2"| Value !!rowspan="2"| Dimensions !!rowspan="2"| Main Colour !!colspan="2"| Description !!colspan="3"| Date of |- ! Obverse !! Reverse !! Obverse !! Reverse !! printing !! issue !! withdrawal |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $10 |rowspan="3"| 129 × 66 mm | Aqua | Emiliano Zapata | |6 May 1994 | 1996 | 1997 |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $20 | Blue | Benito Juárez | Hemiciclo a Juárez |6 May 1994
17 May 2001 (polymer) | 1996
September 30, 2002 |rowspan="6"| current |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $50 | Reddish-Purple | José María Morelos y Pavón | Scene from Michoacán |6 May 1994
18 October 2000 (iridescent) | 1996
October 15, 2001 |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $100 |rowspan="4"| 155 × 66 mm | Red | Nezahualcoyotl | Xochipilli |6 May 1994
18 October 2000 (color shifting)
? (raised ink) |rowspan="3"| 1996
October 15, 2001
December 19, 2005 |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $200 | Green | Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz | Façade of the temple of San Jerónimo |rowspan="2"| 7 February 1995
18 October 2000 (color shifting)
? (raised ink) |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $500 | Brown | Ignacio Zaragoza | Puebla Cathedral |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $1,000 | Cyan | Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla | Universidad de Guanajuato, Baratillo Fountain | 26 March 2002 | 15 November, 2004 |- !colspan="10"|Series F |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $20 | 120 × 66 mm | Blue | Benito Juárez | Monte Albán | 19 June 2006 | 20 August 2007 |rowspan="6"| current |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $50 | 127 × 66 mm | Reddish-Purple | José María Morelos y Pavón | Aqueduct of Morelia | 5 November 2004 | 21 November 2006 |- | | | $100 | 134 × 66 mm | Red | Nezahualcoyotl | | | 2009 |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $200 | 141 × 66 mm | Green | Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz | Chimalhuacán | 15 February 2008 | 11 September 2008 |- | | | $500 | 148 × 66 mm | Brown | Diego Rivera | Frida Kahlo | | 2009 |- |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| |align="center" bgcolor="#000000"| | $1000 | 155 × 66 mm | Purple | Miguel Hidalgo | University of Guanajuato | |7 April2008 |-

New Mexican Bill Sizes, Series F.

International use

Some establishments in near border areas of the United States accept pesos as currency, mainly supermarkets. In 2007, Pizza Patrón, a chain of pizza restaurants in the southwestern part of the U.S. started to accept the currency which has been a controversial topic in the United States. Other than U.S. border towns, pesos are generally not accepted as currency outside Mexico.

See also


External links

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