Pancho Villa proclaims death to opponent on coin
- Published: Jul 21, 2017, 7 AM
The rise of Jose Victoriano Huerta Ortega to the presidency of Mexico during the Mexican Revolution led to the creation of a fantastic numismatic rarity.
A pattern for the MUERA HUERTA peso, even rarer than the coin it presaged, is crossing the auction block in Denver during the Heritage Auctions Platinum Night sale at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money.
The coin (and its related pattern) is named for the Spanish inscription on the reverse, calling for the death (“muera”) of Huerta.
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Gen. Huerta was a Federal Army commander who initially served President Francisco I. Madero but joined with anti-Madero conspirators in ousting him.
Huerta, a counter-revolutionary, became president in February 1913 supported by conservative elements in Mexico and some foreign powers.
There was a time when the Morgan dollar was actually a half dollar: Another column in the July 31 issue of Coin World explains how collectors can create their own archival-quality holders for oversized paper money.
The Mexican Revolution was a chaotic time in Mexico, as alliances formed and disbanded, troops gained and then ceded lands, and friends became enemies and enemies became friends. Huerta as president ruled as a military dictator, killing many that spoke against him. He was so despised during this time and afterward, that those fighting to defeat him made “death to Huerta,” or “muera Huerta” their rallying cry.
“Huerta came to power with the promise to restore peace to Mexico, but instead launched a period of extreme violence and terror,” wrote Hugh Guthrie in Mexican Revolutionary Coinage 1913-1917. “Open, armed rebellion broke out almost at once, led by such men as [Álvaro] Obregon in the Northwest, [Venustiano] Carranzo in the West, [Pancho] Villa in the North and Center, [Emiliano] Zapata in the South and [Salvador] Alvarado in the Yucatan.”
Death to Huerta on a coin
“One of the most famous of all coins, the MUERA HUERTA peso, was the result of Villa’s hatred of Huerta. ... the end of Huerta’s dictatorship was made certain by Villa’s great victory at Zacatecas in June of 1914. Three weeks after the battle, Huerta resigned and fled the country,” according to Guthrie.
The pattern peso, issued in 1914 and struck in copper, was made in the state of Durango, commissioned by two of Villa’s generals. Legend suggests that some of Villa’s troops received the coins in payment for their service.
The pattern’s obverse features a liberty cap with rays surrounding, with the name of the United States of Mexico and the denomination in Spanish, accompanied by the year date at bottom legend with three stars surrounding on each side.
The reverse references the issuing authority, indicated by GOB. PROVISIONAL (meaning “provisional government”) with MUERA HUERTA at center; EJERCITO CONSTITUCIONALISTA (“constitutional army”) at upper legend, wreath at lower border.
The adopted design (which was struck in silver) features an eagle on cactus motif on the reverse, in place of the text.
The example in the Heritage auction features a plain edge.
Graded Very Fine 20 brown by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., the pattern displays “moderate wear mixed with heavy handling (marks and scratches) as is typical of the survivors,” according to Heritage, and has an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000.
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