World Coins

Caballito peso is first commemorative coin of Mexico

Mexico’s first commemorative coin, the Caballito silver peso, marked the centennial of the Mexican Revolution and was issued from 1910 through 1914.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Editor’s note: this is a bonus section from a feature about iconic, important and interesting coins. The rest of the story was published in the September monthly issue of Coin World.

Beautiful or iconic designs (like the Dragon dollar) can often be born out of war. Consider, for instance, Mexico’s Caballito peso.

Mexico’s Caballito peso series was issued from 1910 to 1914.

The coin was intended to mark the War of Independence and was, according to the Bank of Mexico, as such, the first commemorative coin of its kind in Mexico.

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The Caballito (the name translates from Spanish to “little horse”) is also considered one of Mexico’s most beautiful coins. Designed by Charles Pillet, the obverse shows an eagle, while the reverse highlights a female personification of Liberty astride a horse, with an oak branch and torch in her hands and a rising sun in the background.

According to Allan Schein, author of the book Mexican Beauty, Un Peso Caballito, Pillet created the design “with great contemplation, artistry and social relevance.”

Both the horse and rider face to the left. Liberty notably does not use reins to control the horse, which is still “subservient to Liberty, and seemingly ready to race forward at her command,” he wrote.

Liberty’s torch is raised high in her left hand as she looks to the rear while urging the horse forward. This could represent moving forward as a people while looking to the past.

When this coin was issued motor vehicles were scarce in Mexico, and horses both supported and were integral to the entire economy of the nation.

The horse itself “seems alive with energy and restless with intent of explosive movement,” according to Schein. “And so was the population of an entire nation. It has a long, beautiful flowing mane and tail, which is held somewhat high off its rump. Everything about this animal speaks of vigor, energy and restrained control.”

Behind the horse and rider is a radiant rising sun with its crown breaking above the earth sending 14 rays of light into the sky on the field behind the raised design elements.

When the Caballito was issued, the United States of America’s coinage was undergoing a design renaissance of its own.

“The Caballito fits perfectly into this era of coin artistry, with a lasting graphic and artistic beauty that stands on its own in timeless majesty,” Schein wrote.

The Caballito peso is one of many iconic, important or interesting world coins that could be the basis of your next collection. 

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