The Mexican 8 Reales coin is a fascinating artifact of economic and cultural history, renowned for its role in the world’s trade systems and its influence on various global currencies.

In this article, we explore the rich history, intricate designs, diverse uses, and the current worth of these iconic silver coins.

History of the Mexican 8 Reales coin

The 8 Reales coin, often referred to as the “Spanish dollar,” was minted in Mexico during the Spanish Empire’s reign over the region, starting in the late 16th century. Its production continued well into the 19th century, making it one of the most enduring coinage types in North America.

The coin’s name, “Reales,” derives from the Spanish word for royal, indicating its origins in the Spanish monarchy.

This coin was crucial in global trade, particularly between the Americas and Asia, and was legal tender in the United States until 1857. It was so widely accepted that it became the basis for several national currencies, including the U.S. dollar, the Chinese yuan, and the Japanese yen.

Design features

The 8 Reales coin is notable for its distinctive and detailed design features, which varied slightly over the centuries but typically included:

  • Obverse: The obverse generally featured the Spanish coat of arms, showcasing the heraldic symbols of Castile and León, with the Pillars of Hercules symbolizing the Straits of Gibraltar on either side.
  • Reverse: The reverse design commonly displayed the Cross of Jerusalem, an emblem of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, surrounded by the Castles and Lions of Castile and León, respectively.

The design also included various mint marks, assayers’ initials, and denomination indications, which helped identify the coin’s place and time of minting.

mexican 8 reales coin

Uses of the 8 Reales Coin

The 8 Reales coin was primarily used for:

  • Trade: As a stable and widely recognized currency, the 8 Reales facilitated international trade, particularly in the Americas and across the Pacific to Asia.
  • Legal Tender: It served as legal tender in multiple countries, easing transactions in regions without a stable local currency.
  • Savings and Investment: Due to its silver content, the coin was often hoarded or used as an investment.

Current worth and collectibility

Today, the value of an 8 Reales coin depends significantly on its condition, rarity, and historical significance. Generally, these coins can range in value from $30 to several thousand dollars for specimens in mint condition or from rarer mints.

Collectors and historians value the 8 Reales for both its beauty and its historical importance. The coin is a popular item at numismatic auctions and is highly sought after for both private collections and museum displays.


The Mexican eight Reales coin is more than just a piece of silver; it’s a piece of history that played a pivotal role in the economic systems of multiple continents. Its legacy endures in the currencies it influenced and in the collectors and historians who cherish its story and artistry. As we continue to study and collect these coins, we preserve a crucial link to our global economic and cultural heritage.

If you want to read other interesting articles about old currencies, click here.