World Coins

Mexican coins honor Mayans

Mexico has issued five 2012 commemorative coins to celebrate the famed Mayan archaeological site known as Chichén Itzá.

The sacred site on the Yucatán Peninsula, the northernmost of Mayan ruins, was host to the intermingled Mayan and Toltec culture from the 10th to 15th centuries. Ruins of the site were excavated in 1841.

The series of five Proof 2012 .999 fine silver coins marks the July 7, 2007, designation of the site as one of the new seven Wonders of the World in a poll organized by the New7Wonders Foundation, based in Zurich, Switzerland.  

Five coins — three 1-ounce 5-peso coins, a 2-ounce 10-peso coin and a 5-ounce 20-peso coin — highlight various aspects of the site with their reverse designs.

The 1-ounce coins show the nunnery (casa de las monjas), the church (la iglesia) and observatory (observatorio) at the site.

The nunnery building and the church are made of stone and feature masks of the god Chaac. The observatory was used for astronomy by members of the Pre-Columbian culture, who are noted for their astronomical knowledge.

The Temple of Warriors (templos de los guerreros) appears on the reverse of the 10-peso coin. The temple is a large stepped pyramid nearly surrounded by carved columns of warriors.

The silver 5-ounce 20-peso coin shows the Kukulcán Pyramid (also known as El Castillo), the most recognizable structure at Chichén Itzá.

It is named for Kukulcán, a feathered serpent deity, the shadow of which appears along the northern balustrade of the pyramid during every spring and fall equinox. The shadow, formed by a combination of various elements of the pyramid, appears also on the coin.

The 5-peso coins each weigh 31.1 grams and measure 40 millimeters in diameter. The 10-peso coin weighs 62.2 grams and measures 48 millimeters in diameter. The 20-peso coin weighs 155.5 grams and measures 65 millimeters in diameter.

A five-coin Proof set is limited to an edition of 1,000 pieces. Total mintages, including the 1,000 pieces of each design assigned to the five-coin Proof set, are: 5-peso coins, 5,500 coins per design; 10-peso coin, 1,500 pieces; and 20-peso coin, 2,000 pieces.

The obverse side of all five coins bears the current rendition of Mexico’s eagle-on-cactus national emblem (or coat of arms) at the center, surrounded by 10 different smaller eagle-on-cactus emblems used throughout Mexico’s history. The legend ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS rises above the central emblem.

Distributor Pat Stovall, of Lois & Don Bailey & Son Numismatic Services, offers the five-coin sets for $595. Write to Stovall at 13165 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Suite 1, Houston, TX 77044 or telephone him at 281-687-6878. ¦

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