State & Federal Copper and Brass Coinage of Mexico, 1824–1872, by
Don Bailey, NLG
A collector of 19th-century United States coinage will find
much to contemplate in State & Federal Copper and Brass Coinage of Mexico,
1824–1872. While the book is clearly geared toward the active collector
of Mexican coins, the little monedas themselves are reminiscent of—and
in many ways connected to—further-north North American monetary fare.
The connection starts on the front cover, from which a familiar personality
beckons: Is that Christian Gobrecht’s Seated Liberty? No, it’s
her Spanish-American cousin.
Author Don Bailey is well known in Mexican circles not only
as a leading coin dealer, but also as a longtime numismatic researcher; his
first article was published in 1967. Members of the American Numismatic Association
will recognize him as the coauthor (with Joe Flores) of the award-winning
¡Viva la Revolucion! The Money of the Mexican Revolution (2006 Best
Specialized Museum and Exhibition Catalog, Numismatic Literary Guild), with
illustrations from the ANA Money Museum. He is a contributor to many trends
columns and standard references (including those of Grove, Buttrey, and Hubbard).
In 2001 was awarded Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle, the nation’s
highest decoration for non-citizens, for his contributions to Mexican numismatics.
State & Federal Coinage builds on the foundation of Frank
Grove’s Coins of Mexico, whose copyright Bailey owns. It expands on
the series covered by Grove, incorporating groundbreaking research into date-by-date
studies, counterstamps, errors, overdates, circulating counterfeits, and major
varieties. It is with some modesty that the preface describes Bailey’s
work as “a stepping stone to the complete analysis” of the coins
The catalog lists the coinages of Mexico’s states in alphabetical
order, starting with Chihuahua (1833–1866) and ending with Zacatecas
(1825–1864). Coins of the federal Mexico City Mint are cataloged last.
The new “DB” numbering system is flexible enough for expansion,
anticipating new discoveries as research continues. (A convenient cross-reference
to the KM system is included in an appendix.)
Bailey has been diligent in his cataloging, identifying coins
that are rumored to exist in other references, but which he and his well-credentialed
team of research associates (including Flores, Ben Nibert, Cory Frampton,
Clyde Hubbard, Kent Ponterio, Holland Wallace, and a dozen other experts)
have not verified. “Existence of a listing in sales State Copper Tucker
review catalogs, especially in lower grades, does not necessarily satisfy
proof of existence,” he notes.
The book’s introduction is an overview of why and how
Mexico’s state coinage came into being. When the U.S. Mint was in its
30th year, Spain’s former colony was only in the infancy of its independence.
Bailey skillfully covers the politics, legislation, financial history, mining,
and other factors that shaped the nation’s “state and federal
coppers,” as collectors know them today. His coverage is reminiscent
of the front-of-the-book essays in the Guide Book of United States Coins (the
“Red Book”)—an excellent introduction to these series. Each
state then gets its own background text, followed by a catalog of its coinage,
with type descriptions and pricing in up to five grades (Good to Extremely
Fine, the typical collectible grades for these coins). A “Notes”
section for each state further expands on its issues, with helpful information
and substantial real-world market advice for the collector. The coins are
shown at actual size and enlarged (clear, black-and-white photographs of 52
different coin types), with close-up photos of edges, errors, and important
The 84-page book was published in a limited edition of 500 copies.
Its glossy plastic cover holds up well to use, and the spiral binding makes
for convenient handling. ISBN 978-1-60702-051-6. Retail $30 plus $5 shipping,
available from Don Bailey at 951-652-7875.
—by Dennis Tucker