From the Grading Room: The Greatest Cap & Rays 8 Reales

Posted on 11/14/2017

The most complete collection of Cap & Rays 8 Reales ever assembled was recently certified by NGC.

Over the last several months, NGC has certified the finest and most complete collection of Cap & Rays 8 Reales ever assembled.

These coins, issued by the Republic of Mexico from 1823 to 1897, bear on one side the national emblem of an eagle with a serpent in its mouth. The opposite side shows a cap with the word LIBERTAD surrounded by rays of light.

The coins were struck at 14 mints in enormous quantities, and the so-called “Mexican Dollar” became a dominant currency in international trade, even outpacing the US Morgan Dollar in popularity and acceptance.

It is true that any series of crown-sized coins, issued in abundance and variety, will attract collectors in a major way. Cap & Rays 8 Reales are proof of this, and the great rarities of the series are highly coveted, but also seldom seen. We are, therefore, appreciative that World Numismatics LLC, the submitter of this important collection, has allowed NGC to share these highlights.

1824 Mo-JM Hookneck Eagle “REPULICA,” graded NGC VF 25
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1824 Mo-JM Hookneck Eagle “REPULICA,” graded NGC VF 25

Mexico mint, KM-A376.5, DP-Mo02. An iconic and key issue with only five confirmed specimens, noted as “the first and most famous major error of the entire series” in the auction catalog of the legendary J.B. Parker collection (Superior 06/1998, lot 3488). A more dramatic engraving error is hard to imagine, since it is the very name of the nascent Republic that is misspelled! Currently the only certified example of the “REPULICA” error variety and among the finest preserved of the five confirmed specimens. (Note that the aforementioned ex. J.B. Parker coin — also the plate coin in "Resplandores" — was holed).

1825 Ga-FS, graded NGC MS 61
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1825 Ga-FS, graded NGC MS 61

Guadalajara mint, KM377.6, DP-Ga01.The historically important first date struck at the Guadalajara mint, very scarce in any grade and extremely rare in this lovely quality (the DP “Resplandores” reference work notes “f-VF” as the usual grade for this issue). This example is the only currently certified MS coin at either major third-party grading service and perhaps the finest extant. It also bears an illustrious American pedigree. Ex. Norweb and Virgil Brand collections.

1827 "1287" Ga-FS, graded NGC AU 53
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1827 "1287" Ga-FS, graded NGC AU 53

Guadalajara mint, KM377.6, DP-Ga03. One of the most famous engraving errors in the Mexican Republican series, and the second finest known of merely four confirmed examples (one of which is overstruck with the Philippines Manila 1828 countermark). This dramatic engraving mistake must have been rapidly corrected since the die showing the overdate 1827/1287 is also known for the series. Ex. Pablo Gerber and one of the highlights of that now legendary collection.

1829 EoMo-LF, graded NGC MS 63
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1829 EoMo-LF, graded NGC MS 63

Tlalpan (Estado de Mexico) mint, KM377.5. Currently the finest certified example of this rare issue, extremely rare in this handsome quality. The short-lived Estado de Mexico mint only struck coins for three years between 1828 and 1830, and all of its issues are heavily sought after by date and type collector alike. The 8 Reales from that mint have long been considered as key issues of the popular Caps and Rays series.

1846 GC-MP, graded NGC MS 62
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1846 GC-MP, graded NGC MS 62

Guadalupe y Calvo mint, KM377.7, DP-GC03 (“very rare”). The mule variety of this scarce and popular date, with a small rounded cap on the obverse and a normal eagle punch on the reverse. Currently the single MS-certified example at either major third-party grading service and in all probability the finest extant. Extremely rare in this attractive quality.

1858 Oa, graded NGC XF 45
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1858 Oa, graded NGC XF 45

Oaxaca mint, KM377.11 (“unique”), DP-Oa02 (“only one [known]”, this coin). Handsome for the grade with strong underlying luster, yet crudely struck — as are all 1858-dated issues from this mint. A most important one-year-only subtype due to its “a inside the O” mintmark, acknowledged as unique in all major references and perhaps the single most famous issue of the Caps & Rays series. A legendary coin with a superb pedigree. Ex. Clyde Hubbard/McCormick collections.

1859 Oa-AE, graded NGC MS 62
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1859 Oa-AE, graded NGC MS 62

Oaxaca mint, KM, DP-Oa-03. A nicely toned and highly lustrous coin, among the very finest known for this popular and very scarce issue, usually found in lower states of preservation. Currently tied with two other coins as the finest certified at NGC and very desirable in this outstanding quality.

1860 Ga-JG, graded NGC MS 61
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1860 Ga-JG, graded NGC MS 61

Guadalajara mint, KM377.6, DP-Ga42. The only currently certified Mint State example of the extremely rare "dot inside tail” variety for the 1860 Ga-JG issue. Struck in Guadalajara by besieged general Severo del Castillo (per edict of September 23, 1860) from requisitioned silver, this issue was secretly identified by engraver Albino del Moral (replacing Mint director Antonio Solana, who had escaped) with a dot in the loop of the snake's tail under the right wing of the eagle on the reverse. After the fall of Castillo's forces, decrees dated October 17 and November 18, 1860, were published to recall the "counterfeit coinage that was manufactured by the rebels of Guadalajara during the siege of the city," and the operation was quite efficient. Probably the finest extant specimen of this historical necessity issue.

1864 Ho-PR, graded NGC MS 64+
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1864 Ho-PR, graded NGC MS 64+

Hermosillo mint, KM377.9, DP-Ho05 (this coin). Amongst the rarest date/assayer combinations for the mint and duly noted as such in the “Resplandores” reference work, where it is plated. Nearly Gem Uncirculated and handsomely toned, a superb example described in the auction catalog of the JB Parker as “the finest known example of this rarity” and the single finest certified specimen to date.

1866/4 Do-CM/LT, graded NGC MS 65
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1866/4 Do-CM/LT, graded NGC MS 65

Durango mint, KM377.4, DP-Do47. The second rarest date/assayer combination in the Durango mint series, noted as “extremely rare, only one high grade example” in the “Resplandores” reference work. In extraordinary condition for an 1866-dated 8 reales from the Maximilian era (and, in fact, currently the single finest example for the 1866 date of any mint in the extensive Caps & Rays series), let alone for this well-known rarity.

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