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    Important 50 Centavos Essai

    Republic Proof Essai Caballito 50 Centavos 1907 PR61 NGC, Paris mint, KM-Pn173. Plain edge variety, thus the rarer variant. Lustrous Proof with few scattered marks defining the grade, mostly disguised by the attractive old toning. An iconic pattern in the Mexican series, as noted following. In 1907, the Mexican government of Porfirio Diaz commissioned Charles Pillet of the Paris Mint to design a series of commemorative coins that would be struck for the centenary of Independence in 1910. Thus Pillet duly produced an Essai for the 50 Centavos denomination dated 1907 - of higher relief - and 1908 and others for the Peso denomination dated 1908 and 1909 - with less relief. All of these essais are of truly exquisite workmanship and among the most treasured items in the Mexican modern series. The hubs, puncheons and related equipment were received in April 1909 in Mexico and minting operations started in January 1910, only for the Peso denomination (per noted author A. Pradeau, the 50 Centavos coins were not struck due to undisclosed reasons). Apparently, despite clearly representing an artistic triumph, Pillet's master dies were essentially a technical failure since defects on the coins were evident from the start of regular minting. It was thus deemed necessary to imrpove the working dies and this operation was eventually commissioned to US Mint's Chief Engraver Charles Barber (an engraver of arguably less artistic skill than Pillet) after a fall out between Pillet and the Mexican Government emissary. 

    Allan Schein's recent work on this topic points out that the cancelation of the 50 Centavos denomination (the dies of which were of higher relief) was probably linked to the failure of St Gaudens' high relief design for the gold $20.00 coin at the time. This argument seems rather logical particularly when considering that the engraver that reworked on the Saint Gaudens dies in order to make them suitable was none other than Barber himself. This failure to strike regular issue coins of 50 Centavos was nevertheless clearly a gain for the numismatic community since the 50 Centavos patterns are the only extant rendition of that denomination and thus highly important. The fortunate next owner of this rare little jewel will likely agree!


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th-14th Thursday-Tuesday
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