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Coins of Carlos and Juana, the oldest coins in Mexico

Charles and Joanna coins are beautiful pieces that can be very surprising for their value in the thousands of dollars.

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Monedas de Carlos y Juana

In this article I will focus on the earliest coins of Mexico and all of the Americas, the coins of Charles and Juana.

These ancient Mexican coins are the pieces of money minted in New Spain under the period between 1536 and 1555. Most of them are beautiful coins full of history and very valuable.


Excuse me if I emphasize this idea, but when I read about some of the prices of these coins I was left with my mouth open. Probably the same thing will happen to you when you see the figure that was paid for an 8 reales coin of Charles and Juana.

Stay until the end, surprises are guaranteed.

History of the coins of Juana and Carlos

To understand the significance of the Juana and Carlos 8 reales coins, we must know the historical context in which they were minted.

These pieces, considered the first Mexican coins, are actually the first coins minted in all of America during the Viceroyalty. As if that were not enough, these pieces were minted in the first Mint or Mint of Mexico, which was opened in all of America, known at the time as New Spain.

This first mint opened in 1536 and was authorized by Royal Decree in 1535. An interesting detail is that the first mint was temporarily located in a property belonging to Hernán Cortés, until it was moved to the official building decades later.

This first enclave of the Mexican mint produced iconic coins that any collector of ancient coins would like to have in his collection. But realistically, very few will be able to obtain them because they are extremely expensive.

First Mexican and American coins

The assayer of the first issue of coins of Carlos I and Juana was Francisco de Rincón. The metal used to mint them was silver, and it is known that pieces of 4, 3 reales, 1 real, 1 real, half a real and a quarter of a real were produced.

Just to give you an idea of the value of the coins of the time, this 3 reales piece has an estimated value between  9000  and  12000 dollars , according to

Mexican 3 reales coins
Mexican 3 reales coins

The minting process of the coins of Juana and Carlos was manual, applying hammer blows on the silver coin blanks. For this reason, it should not surprise us that in 1538 only a few pieces of 8 silver reales were minted, and then the issue was cancelled due to technical difficulties.

How much is a Carlos and Juana coin worth?

The value of Carlos and Juana coins can vary quite a bit, depending on the specific piece being analyzed and the degree of rarity it possesses.

Some of the more common coins, of which the largest number have survived, may be worth a few thousand dollars. On the other hand, others, such as the 8 reales 1538, exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For a long time, there were no known specimens of 8 reales coins of Carlos and Juana.

Only until the 1990s, when 3 pieces were found in the salvage in the 90s of the shipwreck “Golden Fleece” sunk in 1550. As you can imagine, if only three of these 8 reales coins of Carlos and Juana exist, their value is considerable.


The Mexican coins found in the treasure of Captain and Pirate Joseph Bannister, are minted in silver, weighing 27.11 grams, and in a very good state of preservation considering the years spent underwater.

Of the 3 Mexican 8 reales coins found, 2 were auctioned in 2006 and 2008. Some people claim that they did not know then that only 3 specimens of this coin exist, and even so the ones that were auctioned reached prices of  300,000  and  400,000 dollars .

8 reales coins of Charles and Joanna
8 reales coins of Carlos and Juana

In 2014 the third specimen (which you just saw) was auctioned, being auctioned for  $500,000  at Sedwick. This antique Mexican coin is very beautiful.

Carlos and Juana coin design

Most coins of the period feature a similar design, which we must say is very artistic and highly charged with symbolism.

Obverse of a Charles and Joanna coin
Obverse of a Carlos and Juana coin

Taking the 8 reales of Carlos and Juana as a case study, we can visualize on the obverse the shield crowned with castles and lions in its quadrants. This coat of arms is representative of Castile and Leon. The mint mark “Ṁ” of Mexico can be clearly seen within a legend showing the name of the kings Carlos and Juana.

Reverse of a Charles and Joanna coin
Reverse of a Charles and Joanna coin

On the other side, on the Reverse we find the Columns of Hercules with the famous legend PLVS, with a Maltese cross at the top and the initial “R” of the assayer Francisco del Rincon.

The rough finish of the coin is due to the manual minting process, which in some way guarantees its authenticity. This coin currently could be worth more than  $1,000,000,000  without any doubt, which places it on the list of the most valuable ancient coins in the world.

If you liked the article share it with your friends, and leave me a comment telling me if you had this coin what you would do with it: would you sell it or keep it for yourself.

I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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