The PNNA Memorabilia Catalog

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by Greg Franck-Weiby

The design of the 2010 PNNA convention medal is based on the Mexican Republic type called 'cap & rays' (or sometimes 'cartwheel') by English speaking collectors, and called 'resplandor' (i.e. resplendant) by Spanish speaking collectors. The earliest version of the design, with a different shaped cap, 'Libertad' in script letters, and a profile eagle, was struck 1823-'25. In 1825, the facing eagle version with Capitol letter 'Libertad' was introduced. That version of the design was used for all silver denominations, including 1/2, 1, 2, 4, and 8 reales (the 8R was the original 'peso') up until 1868. (The PNNA medal is closest to the half real size.) From 1873 - '97 it was used only on the 8R. The type was minted at fourteen different branch mints, with a great deal of variation in the design from mint to mint, and even from year to year at the same mint.

The national symbol of the eagle holding a snake in its beak while perched on a prickly pear cactus on a small island refers to the vision of an Aztec priest that led to the Aztecs establishing their capitol city, Tenochtitlan, on an island in Lake Texcoco - which became Mexico City. This version of the radiant Liberty cap is one of the most beautiful coin designs of the 19th century - a design that says 'shine'. Having shorter rays at the bottom of the Liberty cap and longer rays above tends to orient the viewer's perspective skyward, while concentrating all of the lettering at the bottom creates a 'texture-shadow' to contrast with the sky high source of light. The shapes of the rays, particularly on well struck, high grade specimens, also reflects the light in an amplification of the same way that radial metal flow lines show in the fields of uncirculated coins. The original's inscription was a series of abbreviations for denomination, date, mint mark, mint assayer's initials, and the alloy (10 dineros and 20 granos); the numeral 1 being larger than the rest of the numerals reflects the Mexican style of abbreviation with a full size initial letter and a small terminal letter above a dot.