A biography of Don and his Incomparable
Contributions to Mexican Numismatics
by Louis Golino
Don Bailey: Dean of Mexican Numismatics
Don Bailey is one of the most well-known American specialists
in the coinage of Mexico, whose interest in Mexican coins began
in the 1960s. Since then he has developed a reputation as an internationally-recognized
expert in his field and has done more than any other American
coin dealer to promote interest in Mexican coins and make those
numismatic items available to collectors in this country.
Born and raised in Michigan, Don left the state during the Korean
War to join the U.S. Marine Corps. When he retired from the Marines,
he was living in Yuma, Arizona, a state that borders Mexico, where
he resided for seventeen years. It was in Arizona that Don began
his love affair with Mexican coins and the history behind them.
To truly appreciate and understand the coins of a country, it
is essential to study them and the country’s history in
depth and to interact frequently with others who share your interests.
This is exactly what Don and his wife Lois have done for almost
sixty years in the field of Mexican numismatics.
Don first started collecting U.S. coins in the early 1960s but
soon developed a real passion for Mexican coins. He initially
concentrated on the coinage Maximillian and French Intervention
periods in the 19th century when French emperor Napoleon III installed
the Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian of Austria to rule Mexico.
Research and writing
Don’s deep interest in Mexican history and coinage led
him to study and write about them with his first article appearing
in 1967. These articles have focused mainly on Mexican historical
and numismatic subjects and have appeared in every major numismatic
publication, including some that no longer exist. They have ranged
from articles about new issues and the state of the market for
Mexican coins to more scholarly examinations of Mexican coinage
since its origins in the Aztec period.
Don served as “Mexican Trends” analyst for Coin World
magazine’s coin pricing section, more recently called “Mexican
Market Analysis,” providing for over twenty years updated
retail values for all Mexican coins issued since the coinage reform
of 1905 and information the U.S. market for Mexican coins.
He also wrote many news stories and feature articles for Coin
World, including a cover story on Mark Hoffman, a Mormon forger
and murderer, that appeared in the 1980s and a cover story for
the world coins section in November 1987 called “The Numismatics
of Spanish Colonial Mexico” (http://www.moneta-coins.com/library/Spanish%20Colonial%20Mexico%20-%20Bailey.pdf).
In fact, Coin World’s coverage of Mexican coins was expanded
considerably as a result of the partnership between Don and the
magazine’s longtime former editor Beth Deisher. Desisher
noted in 2014 that when she became editor in 1985 and sought to
expand the publication’s coverage of Mexican coins, she
found it difficult to communicate directly with Mexican officials.
Don suggested she travel there to attend conventions of the Sociedad
Numismatica de Mexico, which she did with Don’s help and
In addition, Don has served as a contributor to the numerous
Krause Publications world coin references, such as the Standard
Catalog of Mexican Coins and Standard Catalog of World Coins,
and similar books from other publishers.
Don also wrote a monthly column for World Coin News (sister publication
of Numismatic News) called “Mexican Numismatic Potpourri,”
which eventually covered all areas of Mexican numismatics.
In recognition of his many contributions to the study of Mexican
coins, he has received numerous literary and distinguished service
awards. These include, for example, the American Numismatic Association’s
Presidential Award, being named a Numismatic Ambassador by Numismatic
News, and several awards from Mexico, including in 2001 the Mexican
Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor the Mexican government
can bestow on a foreigner. He also received the Tidwell literary
award from the Texas Numismatic Association and many awards from
the Numismatic Literary Guild over an extended period for his
articles and books.
Like many serious collectors, Don has also been active since
the early days of his numismatic career in various numismatic
associations. He has served as an officer in several of them and
started some of his own groups.
In 1967 he started the Maximillian Numismatic and Historical
Society, and in 1997 he organized the United States Mexican Numismatic
Association (www.usmex.org), whose over 300 members collect Mexican
coins and help promote interest in them within the U.S. He is
currently the Honorary Director and the former Executive Director
of this group. He is also a past editor of the organization’s
journal, The Mexican Numismatic Journal.
In addition, he is a lifetime member of the ANA and a member
of the Sociedad Numismatica de Mexico for more than 40 years,
serving for a long period as the organization’s official
Starting in 1979 Don worked full-time as a dealer concentrating
on Mexican coins, working closely with his wife, Lois Bailey,
who has been integral to both his business and research pursuits.
The two of them attended major coin shows in the U.S. and Mexico
The firm carries Mexican coins from the pre-Columbian period
to the present as well as medals, tokens, and other historic materials
The Baileys have also worked closely with the Banco de Mexico
and Casa de Moneda de Mexico (which has authority for the country’s
numismatic programs) in an advisory capacity to promote Mexican
numismatic products in the U.S. and their company, Lois and Don
Bailey and Son Numismatic Services based in Houston, is today
a principal distributor of modern Mexican coins to the U.S. market.
Now that Don and Lois are retired from the coin business, their
son, Pat Stovall, runs the company.
Because of the company’s longstanding relationship with
Mexican national bank and mint officials and the company’s
location in Texas, they have been able to import new products,
including the seven-coin silver Proof sets issued since 2014,
which have been called “The Magnificent Seven.” These
sets include all seven sizes of silver Proof coins issued annually
housed in a compact wooden box with a certificate of authenticity.
Only 250 sets are released each year.
Similarly, the company was the sole distributor for the Mexican
State Commemorative Program issued between 2003 and 2005.
In addition, the company’s collaboration with Mexico has
enabled it to become a reliable source of mintage information
for American collectors, who eagerly anticipate finding out how
many of each coin were made each year.
Mexican Money series
In 2014 the first volume of The Whitman Encyclopedia of Mexican
Money by Lois and Don Bailey, which provides an illustrated history
of Mexican coins and currency from the pre-Columbian period all
the way through to present-day coins, bullion, and commemoratives,
was published. It received an award from the Numismatic Literary
Guild in 2015 as one of the best books of the year.
This book and the others in the series have received very positive
reviews in the numismatic press.
This series, a unique four-part set of numismatic reference books,
provides a richly detailed history of Mexican coinage. It draws
on the more than half century that the authors have collected,
studied, and bought and sold Mexican coins as well as their ties
to everyone from Mexican government officials to museum curators,
other collectors, dealers, and other experts in the field.
This series, whose fourth volume has not yet been published,
is the fruit of the Bailey’s decades of experience in the
Mexican coin field. It is one that could only have been written
by the Baileys, who have been such integral participants in the
U.S.-Mexican coin market for decades. As Jeff Starck, Coin World’s
senior editor for world coins said, “Truth be told, the
volumes represent a life’s work, encapsulated in print.”
The second volume, which former Coin World editor Beth Deisher
calls “a must-have reference for anyone interested in collecting
or investing in modern Mexican coins,” was named one of
the best books of the year in 2016 by the Numismatic Literary
This volume deals with modern Mexican coins issued since 1905
such as the coins issued as a result of the coinage reforms of
1905 and 1992, commemoratives, mint and proof sets, and of course
silver, gold, and platinum Libertads.
The third volume covers early Mexican coinage from the 1500s
to the 1900s, including Carlos and Johanna issues, cob silver
and gold coinage, milled coins, coinage of the War of Independence,
coins of Agustin de Iturbide, Republic reales coinage, state and
federal coppers, the coins of Emperor Maximilian, and pre-Revolutionary
Republic decimal coinage.
Previous books by Don include Viva la Revolucion! The Money of
the Mexican Revolution coauthored with Joe Flores (https://worldnumismatics.com/product/viva-la-revolucion-the-money-of-the-mexican-revolution-by-don-bailey-joe-flores/),
which was the 2006 Best Specialized Museum and Exhibition Catalog
according to the Numismatic Literary Guild, and a book on copper
and brass coinage from Mexico.
It is impossible to summarize the full breadth of the wide-ranging
contributions of Don Bailey to Mexican numismatics over the past
half century, which have received widespread recognition within
the U.S. and Mexico. But perhaps Beth Deisher put it best when
she said in her foreword to the second volume of Mexican Money:
“Don’s driving vision for the last 40 years has been
to share his knowledge and to entice others to become as smitten
with Mexican numismatics as he was. Don and Lois (his wife and
numismatic research partner) can take pride in knowing they’ve