Why is the Mexican currency called a Peso?

In pre-Hispanic times, cocoa, copper dust, jade or cotton blankets served as currency , but with the Spanish conquest, payment began to be made through coins.

When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they used the coins they had brought from Europe during the first years.

This was known as Real de a ocho or Peso Duro, and contained 27 and a half grams of silver.

It was also ordered to melt and mark all the gold that had been found in Tenochtitlán.

Over time the first mexican currency was generated using the precios metals that abounded throughout the country.

The first national currency was tepuzque gold, a copper coin with very little gold that was rejected by the natives. Since these small discs were not used, the use of cocoa and silver alone continued.

Image result for tepuzque gold, a copper coin

How was the Mexico Peso Born?

Before coining the first colonial coins in Mexico silver coins were used and the only way to define their value was by weighing them, so a piece of very heavy silver was called peso, hence the name of the Mexican currency.

The Peso of silver gradually became the traditional currency of the country.

It was not until 1535 that the colonial Mexicans began to resent the lack of a common currency that was easily accessible, but that had a purchase value equal to that of the money coined in Spain, so it was decided to found the Royal Mint of Mexico, the first mint, or place where coin is minted, in America.


There is a book published in 1852 by Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, son of the hero of the Fatherland José María Morelos y Pavón, called “Guide of Outsiders and repertoire of useful knowledge”, in which he details the origin of the name “Peso” of the national currency.

The Mint of Mexico is one of the establishments that at all times (sic) have attracted the attention of the foreigners (sic) and that has been famous all over the world, for the prodigious quantity of precious metals that in it have been coined Up to fourteen years after the conquest, that is, until 1535, no coin was known in Mexico, other than the one worked in Spain; but (sic) as the one that came was not enough for the trade in its different changes, they used silver without tilling, making small pieces of an agreed weight, and from here comes the name of pesos that was not previously known in the currency ” .

You can find this extract on page 161 of the chapter on the Real Casa de Moneda de México.

The book is available in reproduction on this link .

Due to the high value of Mexican silver, it soon began to be used in international transactions , being even the metal with which the first dollars were coined after the independence of the United States at the end of the 18th century.

In other words, the value of the first dollars to circulate in the colonies liberated from British control was backed by silver mined in Mexico.

In this regard, the sociologist Salvatore Bobanes, refers to a passage from the book by Juan José Morales and Peter Gordon “The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalization” (“The road of silver: China, Spanish America and the birth of globalization “), says:

There was a globalization before globalization and America played a key role in it, that is, Spanish America. Much more before the dollar was painted an emerald green in Washington, it was polished in Mexican silver. “

In this way, the Mexican currency was not only called a Peso, but helped to lubricate the first turns of the commercial wheel of the world.

The 18th and 19th century the Mexican peso was widely used in the early United States. On July 6, 1785, the value of the United States dollar was set by decree to approximately match the Spanish dollar. Both were based on the silver content of the coins.

The first U.S. dollar coins were not issued until April 2, 1792, and the peso continued to be officially recognized and used in the United States, along with other foreign coins, until February 21, 1857. In Canada, it remained legal tender, along with other foreign silver coins, until 1854 and continued to circulate beyond that date. The Mexican peso also served as the model for the Straits dollar (now the Singapore/Brunei Dollar), the Hong Kong dollar, the Japanese yen, and the Chinese yuan. The term Chinese yuan refers to the round Spanish dollars, Mexican pesos and other 8 reales silver coins which saw use in China during the 19th and 20th century. The Mexican peso was also briefly legal tender in 19th century Siam, when government mints were unable to accommodate a sudden influx of foreign traders.

More about the Mexican Peso

The Mexican peso (sign: $; code: MXN) is the currency of Mexico. Modern peso and dollar currencies have a common origin in the 15th–19th century-Spanish dollar, most continuing to use its sign, “$”. The Mexican peso is the 10th most traded currency in the world, the third most traded currency from America (after the United States dollar and Canadian dollar), and the most traded currency from Latin America.[

The current ISO 4217 code for the peso is MXN; prior to the 1993 revaluation, the code MXP was used. The peso is subdivided into 100 centavos, represented by “¢“. As of 17 February 2019, the peso’s exchange rate was $21.75 per euro and $19.27 per U.S. dollar.

Source: Mexico desconocido, televisa.news, banco de mexico, wikipedia

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