Congress attempted to regulate financial institutions in Mexico post independence, it had a hard time realizing their projects due to many factors. Many private banks issued their own peso banknotes, and the Austrians temporarily controlled Mexico from 1864 to 1867. A proposal to create the Bank of the Mexican Republic and make it the sole issuing bank of Mexico was abandoned in 1919. However, the Bank of the Mexican Republic served as the forerunner to the current Bank of Mexico.
The Banco de Mexico began operations on September 1, 1925. It is the only issuing bank of Mexico until present day.
First Issues (Los Anchos)
The public had a hard time accepting the first family of banknotes issued by the Bank of Mexico because previous notes issued during the Mexican revolution could not be redeemed. The Bank of Mexico guaranteed that the A series could be exchanged for gold to increase public acceptance.
The first family of banknotes were also called Los Anchos (The Wide Ones). All the notes measured 180 mm by 83 mm. These notes also had the same design on the reverse side, which featured the bank seal, the bank guilloche, and the angel of the Monumento a la Independencia (Independence Monument) found in Mexico City. Meanwhile, the obverse side of the notes depicted allegorical interpretations of Mexican values.
The black and green 50 peso note depicts the allegory for Navigation—a seated woman holding a sailing ship and rudder. Like early banknotes, there are no security threads nor a watermark. The only security features are the stamped seal and guilloche. The note is printed by the American Bank Note Company, which printed Mexican banknotes until 1978.
The fourth family of banknotes are the first notes printed by Banco de Mexico’s banknote factory, which began its operations in 1969. Smaller denominations did not have security threads nor watermarks. However, they had serial numbers and the bank seal and guilloche were still printed at the back. Larger denominations had solid security threads and a watermark of the featured person. The obverse side of the notes all featured Mexican heroes, while the reverse side featured Mexican architecture.
For instance, the 1,000 peso note depicts Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the Tenth Muse of Mexico, placing her hand on an open book. The Plaza de Santo Domingo in Mexico City is shown on the backside of the note. Security features of the note include a solid security thread and a watermark of Sor Juana. The note measures 157 mm long and 67 mm wide.
On January 1, 1993, the Banco de Mexico replaced the peso with the nuevo pesos (new pesos) at a rate of 1,000 pesos to 1 nuevo peso. The first family of nuevo peso banknotes were like the fourth family of peso notes, but bore the new denominations and the date 31 JUL 1992.
The second family of nuevo peso banknotes had new designs. The obverse side shows a notable Mexican figure and a vignette of their contribution in history. The reverse side shows different landmarks. The notes were dated 10 DIC 1992 (10 Dec. 1992). This is also the first family of notes that increased in size in relation to their denomination, and registration devices.
The green 10 nuevo peso note is the smallest denomination in the second family of nuevo peso notes. Its obverse side contains two sorting bars, a corn-themed underprint pattern, a farmer sharing two ears of corn, and a portrait of Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary who paved the way to agrarian reform. Its reverse side shows snow-colored mountains, the Bank of Mexico seal, a smokestack, sugar canes, and a depiction of a peasant talking to Zapata. The note has a solid security thread and a 10 nuevo pesos registration device. It measures 129 mm long and 65 mm wide.
The Current Peso
The modifier nuevo was dropped from the name of the currency. However, the ISO 4217 code remained unchanged as MXN. The peso notes issued after the name change had the same designs as the preceding issue. The differences were that the bank title changed from El Banco de Mexico to Banco de Mexico and the clause pagara a la vista al portador (payable to bearer on sight) was removed.
The purple 20 peso note is Mexico’s first polymer note. Its obverse side bears the coat of arms of Mexico—a golden Mexican eagle devouring a snake atop a prickly pear cactus—and the portrait of Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia, the 26th president of Mexico. Its reverse side portrays the Juarez Semicircle in Mexico City with the bank logo above. Because it is a polymer note, it does not have a watermark. However, it has a simulated solid security thread. The note measures 129 mm long and 65 mm wide. The polymer 20 peso note was introduced in 2001. Five years later, the 50 peso note also switched to polymer.
A new family of banknotes were introduced in 2017. These notes have improved security features and designs showcasing Mexico’s historical and natural heritage. The 20 peso note is replaced by a coin, and the 2,000 peso is introduced. The obverse side of the notes represent different eras in Mexican history. The reverse side of the note depict elements of fauna and flora identified with each of Mexico’s ecosystems through recognized sites in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The green 200 peso note represents Independent Mexico. Its obverse side shows the bank monogram and the portraits of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Jose Maria Morelos, the two revolutionary leaders in the Mexican War of Independence. Its reverse side portrays the Biosphere Reservation of El Pinacate and the Gran Desierto de Altar. The note has a solid security thread with demetalized 200 and a watermark of a bell and electrotype 200. The note is 139 mm long and 65 mm wide.