You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Still, the Bank of Mexico certainly tried with its latest commemorative banknote—a new 20-peso bill marking the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Mexico’s independence from Spain, put into circulation on September 24th, 2021.
New $20-peso banknote features dual design style
After the new 100-peso bill drew some badly informed criticism on social media for being designed vertically the central bank and others involved in the concept and design of banknotes appear to have gone for a Solomonic solution: the image on the front of the new bill is horizontal, and the one on the reverse side is vertical.
As is well known, Mexico’s war of independence began on September 16th, 1810 with the Grito de Dolores, the call to arms by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Indeed, the country’s independence is celebrated each year on September 16th, and the bicentennial was marked in 2010.
But it was 11 years later, on September 27th, 1821, that the Ejército Trigarante or Army of the Three Guarantees, led by Agustín de Iturbide, made its peaceful entry into Mexico City. The three guarantees were religion (Roman Catholic, freedom of worship came many years later), independence, and union. The army was formed by royalist troops under Iturbide (who joined the independence movement) and the guerrilla forces commanded by Vicente Guerrero.
The entry into Mexico City is portrayed on the front of the new 20-peso note. On the back is an image of the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo. A Mexican crocodile is swimming in the mangroves, while a crane flies overhead.
Historical reasons aside, the timing of the new 20-peso note is fortunate, as many of the existing notes of that denomination —the blue ones with Benito Juárez on the front and the pyramids of Monte Albán on the back— are getting a bit worn. The new design is presented in polymer (plastic), the same material used for the existing blue $20-peso bills.
New coins for spenders and collectors
After unveiling the new notes, the central bank issued six new coins on September 27—three 20-peso coins for general circulation and three silver coins for collectors, each weighing one troy ounce, with a face value of 10 pesos; the collectors’ coins are purchasable from banks, the Mexican mint, and at the central bank’s economy museum, MIDE.
The coins commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Ejército Trigarante, the founding of the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, and the history of Mexico City-Tenochtitlan.
Last year, the central bank put into circulation new 20-peso coins marking the 500th anniversary of the founding of the city and port of Veracruz, and earlier this year another commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata.
The idea of using coins made sense as 20-peso notes —worth about US$1— change hands fairly frequently with the corresponding wear and tear.
New spending coins might be hard to come by
The only problem is that people hold on to the attractively designed 12-sided coins once they come into their possession. (The writer confesses to having a couple stashed away.) More than the expectation that they may become valuable in the future —the metal content certainly won’t— it’s that they are genuinely elegant and it seems a shame to spend them, especially as other people are keeping theirs and who knows when you might get another one. It’s likely the latest coins will also be difficult to come by.
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