The beautiful Mexican coin that China copied to become its official currency


For 400 years, the 8 Reales coin made in Mexico obtained great prestige in different parts of the world, including China, which is why that country copied, duplicated, and distributed it among the population.

Of all the coins that have emerged in the history of Mexico, I dare to say that the most important is the 8 Reales Mexicana, and throughout this text, I will do my best to convince you of it. In the meantime I will place here a fact about this piece of silver that almost no one has in mind: this legendary Mexican 8 Reales coin became, nothing more and nothing less, than the official currency of China. Yes, with it the inhabitants of that nation bought goods and services. 

How did this happen?

Before going to the point in question, I must inform you that in a city square in Jinggangshan, eastern China’s Jiangxi province, a huge replica of the coin in question stands, with a splendid republican eagle in front and above it a legend that fills of pride to the compatriots who live or visit that country: “Republic of Mexico.” 

This monument was raised at this point in China because it was precisely in that city where the country that gave birth to Mao Zedong, established its first Mint run by the Red Army under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, it was the year 1928. 

La hermosa moneda mexicana que China copió para crear la suya

It was in this, the first Chinese Mint, where the Chinese minters copied, reproduced, multiplied, and dispersed the Mexican 8 Reales coin among the population. I did not find a document that indicates whether the Chinese had to request a permit for the use of design from the Royal Mexican Mint, but I suspect that they did not. 

To give it a kind of personalization, the members of the Red Army who worked making the aforementioned currency, placed on the right wing of the Mexican eagle the character “gong” which means “workers, peasants and soldiers”, it was the communist touch.  

Keep track of the 8 Reales coin

Once this is explained, we will go back a few years to explain why the Chinese came to this. In 1535 the Royal Mint began to mint the 8 Reales coin in Mexico City, first with the head of the Spanish kings, and in later years with the eagle of Mexico. 

Zacatecas mining

It was a time when Mexican silver was extracted in abundance from the different mines, especially from Zacatecas, which would have allowed Spaniards and Mexicans to create an 8 Reales coin with a silver purity superior to that of other countries, ( in other latitudes pieces of silver were made but with a greater amount of copper or other metals so the real value decreased) over time it became a guarantee of authentic value for people in much of the planet.  

The captains of North American ships used the 8 Reales coin to buy slaves on the western coasts of Africa and to acquire the tea from China and take it to the United States, says researcher John McMaster in an extraordinary study entitled Asian Adventures of the Mexican Peso.  

McMaster explains that the 8 Reals coin was used in all the Pacific islands and along the coast of Asia, from Siberia to Bombay. With this piece, Asian libraries and art collections were also bought that served to enrich such important collections as that of Boston and Harvard universities, in short, the 8 Reales coin is known as the first and most important world currency, merit which it held for four centuries. 

And, as advertisers said, the 8 Reales coin was already at the top of mind as a coin of excellent value for the inhabitants of much of the globe, including the Chinese who had confidence in said Mexican currency during the late period of the dynasty. Qing and the Kuomintang regime, it is explained in a report by the Xinhua news agency, so they decided to copy it in their first Mint founded in 1928. 

As an anecdote, it is said that Mao Zedong asked the minters not to falsify or diminish the purity of the silver in his 8 Reales coin so that people would not lose their trust in it.  

That is why it would not be a bad thing to go looking in the trunks and other trinkets of the grandparents to find out if they did not keep one of these historical and valuable coins there.


Mexico Daily Post