Book review:
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 covered.

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 characteristics.

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

 
   
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