Mr. Plumb to Mr. Seward.

No. 46.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy and translation of an important decree issued by this government, under date of the 27th ultimo, establishing the decimal system of coinage.

[Page 388]

The monetary unit of the Mexican Republic, under this decree, is to remain as heretofore, the silver dollar, with the same fineness and weight that it now has.

The subdivisions of the dollar are to be coins of fifty cents, twenty-five cents, ten cents, and five cents. The coin of one cent is to be of copper, or an alloy of that metal. The gold coins are to be pieces of twenty dollars, ten dollars, five dollars, two dollars and fifty cents, and one dollar.

The weight, diameter, and fineness of the coins is established according to the metrical decimal system, and after ninety days from the date of the publication of the decree, it is to be obligatory upon all assayers throughout the republic to mark the fineness of gold and silver in thousandths instead of the Spanish terms of “dineras,” “quiiates,” and “granos,” heretofore in use.

From the 15th of September, 1868, the circulation of money of the so-called imperial coinage, and of twelve and a half and six and a quarter cent pieces is to be abolished.

The early attention to so important a reform as that effected by this decree reflects great credit upon this government.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.


Department of Fomento, Colonization, Industry, and Commerce.–Section 1.

The citizen President of the republic has been pleased to address to me the following, decree:

Benito Juarez, constitutional President of the United Mexican States, to the inhabitants of the same be it known: That in use of the ample faculties with which I am invested, and considering the necessity that exists of reforming the national coin, and of establishing a uniformity in the subdivisions of the same, for the benefit of all classes of our society, and the greater facility and simplicity of commercial transactions; considering that the simultaneous and authorized use of com of the old system and of the decimal, besides being embarrassing, is contrary to the principles of administration generally accepted, and is also the cause of difficulties and of losses to the larger portion of citizens who form the laboring part of our population; considering that the copper money coined in the States, on account of the exceptional circumstances, does not fully meet the necessary conditions, and that its lack of uniformity restricts its circulation within very narrow limits, thus causing great inconvenience to the development of commerce; considering that the actual type of our coin is imperfect in its artistic part and is susceptible of the improvement and perfection that has been attained by the arts in our country; considering, finally, that the present is an opportune moment to put in practice the prescriptions of the law which determined the establishment of the decimal system in the republic, without making any essential alteration in the value of the monetary unit of Mexico, generally known and appreciated in the world, I have thought proper to decree as follows:

Article 1. The monetary unit of the Mexican Republic shall be as heretofore, the silver dollar with the same fineness and the same weight that it now has.

Art. 2. The silver dollar shall be divided into two pieces of fifty cents, four of twenty-five cents, ten of ten cents, and twenty of five cents. The one cent piece shall be of copper, or a special alloy in which said metal shall predominate.

Art. 3. The coinage of gold shall be pieces of twenty dollars, of ten dollars, of five dollars, of two dollars and fifty cents, and of one dollar.

Art. 4. The fineness of all coins of silver shall be 902 777/1000, (10 dineras 20 grains,) and of all coins of gold 875 thousandths, (21 carats.)

Art. 5. The dollar of silver shall weigh 27 grams 73 milligrams; that of the piece of fifty cents, 13 grams 536 milligrams; that of the piece of twenty-five cents, 6 grams 768 milligrams; that of the piece of ten cents, 2 grams 707 milligrams; that of the piece of five cents, 1 gram 353 milligrams. The weight of the gold coin of [Page 389]twenty dollars shall be 33 grams 841 milligrams; that of the piece of ten dollars, 16 grams 920 milligrams; that of the piece of five dollars, 8 grams 460 milligrams; that of the piece of two dollars and fifty cents, 4 grams 230 milligrams; and that of the piece of one dollar, 1 gram 692 milligrams.

Art. 6. The diameter of the dollar of silver shall be 37 millimeters; that of the piece of fifty cents, 30 millimeters; that of the piece of twenty-live cents, 25 millimeters; that of the piece of ten cents, 17 millimeters; that of the piece of five cents, 14 millimeters.

The diameter of the gold coins shall be adjusted according to the following dimensions: The piece of twenty dollars, 34 millimeters; the piece of ten dollars, 27 millimeters; the piece of five dollars, 22 millimeters; the piece of two dollars and fifty cents, 18 millimeters; the piece of one dollar, 15 millimeters. The piece of one cent will have 25 millimeters of diameter, if of copper, or 20 millimeters if made of a special alloy.

Art. 7. Each piece of money shall bear, clearly stamped upon it, its respective value; the initials of the name of the government assayer, the place and year of its coinage, and also marked upon it the fineness, when of silver or of gold.

Art. 8. The cent shall be made of copper or a special metallic compound in which copper shall predominate in such proportion as shall be fixed by the department of fomento.

Art. 9. The range or difference permitted in the fineness of the precious metals shall not exceed three thousandths for silver and two thousandths for gold; but this difference shall only be admitted in certain exceptional cases and not as a general rule, in the coinage.

Art. 10. Ninety days after the publication of this law in this capital, it will be obligatory upon all the assayers of the republic to mark in thousandths the fineness of silver and of gold, whether these metals are separated or mixed. The terms “dineras,” “quelates,” and “granos,” heretofore used to designate the purity of said metals and their alloys, being abolished, the expression of the fineness will hereafter be carried to tens of thousandths.

Art. 11. In order that the preceding article shall be carried into full effect, the corresponding decimal weights shall be ordered to be made by the department of fomento, and shall be sent to all the assay offices and mints of the republic.

Art. 12. For the preparation of the new molds for the national coin, in conformity with the reforms now decreed, and in order to improve and perfect the actual type, a meeting shall be called of all the Mexican engravers, and of foreigners, in order that they may present their models, which shall be submitted to the decision of a special jury, appointed and presided over by the minister of fomento, under such regulations as shall be prescribed in the call therefor.

Art. 13. On the 15th of September, 1868, the circulation of the so-called imperial coins shall be abolished; as also that of the denominated “reales” and “medios,” and such of the copper coin as is not in conformity with the new system. The department of hacienda is authorized to issue the necessary orders for the redemption of said coin.

Wherefore, I order that it be printed, published and circulated, in order that it may be duly complied with.


To the Citizen Blas Balcarcel, Minister of Fomento, Industry and Commerce.

And I communicate the same to you for your intelligence and the consequent ends.