Mexico: 50 Centavos 1905-1945 Cap & Rays


Quick Coinage Facts

Years Minted: 1905-1945
Number of Types: 2
Composition: 80% Silver (1905-1919), 72% Silver (1919-45)
Diameter: 30 mm (1905-1918), 27 mm (1918-45)
Weight: 12.5 grams .3215 oz of silver 1905-18
9.062 grams .2331 oz of silver 1918-19
8.333 grams .1929 oz of silver 1919-45
7.973 grams .1077 oz of silver 1935
Total Series Mintage: 465,693,000
Type 1 Mintage: 114,529,000
Type 2 Mintage: 351,164,000
Obverse Design: National Arms
Reverse Design: Cap and Rays


The obverse design features the Mexican coat of arms, an eagle clutching a snake while it perches on a prickly pear cactus. On the outer periphery is the phrase “ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS” or as translated to English “United Mexican States”.

The reverse design features a Phrygian Cap with Rays which has long been symbolic of liberty free thinking on coinage. Below the design is a ¾ wreath with denomination “50 CENTAVOS” and date of issue above. In between the denomination is the mint mark “M” for the Mexico City Mint.

The coin edge is lettered with the phrase “INDEPENDENCIA Y LIBERTAD” (Independence and Liberty).


During 1918, 50 centavos coinage received a significant change by reducing the diameter from 30 mm to 27 mm also resulting in a significant reduction in overall weight:

Type 1 – 1905-1918 Large Diameter 30 mm
Type 2 – 1918-1945 Small Diameter 27 mm

Major Varieties

Starting in 1919, the new type 2 coins were slightly modified from 1919 by reducing its silver content from .2331 to .1929 ounces of silver.

When the change occurred in 1919, coins were produced in both the old & new silver content. With no changes to design, markings or size one can only make the difference by physically weighing the coin where Variety 1 coins weigh approximately 9.06 grams and Variety 2 coins weigh 8.33 grams.

In 1935 silver was reduced again to .1077 ounces of silver but returned back to its .1929 ounces of silver in the years following giving us our third variety. Unlike 1919, all 1935 issues were of the same silver content so there is no worry on differentiating it from other coins.

Variety 1 – 1918-19 80% Silver, Weight 9.062 grams
Variety 2 - 1919-1945 Reduced 72% Silver, Weight 8.333 grams
Variety 3 – 1935 Reduced 42% Silver

Variety 1 Obverse Variety 2 Obverse Reverse

General Market Notes

Excluding errors and varieties, the key to the series is the 1908 issue and the semi-keys are the 1916, 1918 type 1, 1918 type 2, and 1938 issues.

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