Chris writes: I have had a good luck charm, a Mexican coin dated 1865. It is very tiny, smaller then a dime. On one side it has, Maximilino (the last few letters are somewhat blurry) emperador and a head shot of him (i guess). On the other side it says, Imperio Mexicano and the date 1865 with it looks like an eagle perhaps. It does not have a denomination. The colour is bronzey. Is this an actual coin or worth anything. It has brought me great luck. Please let me know, have a nice day. Chris.
The tiny gold “coin” you describe in your note is a souvenir token privately manufactured, primarily for the jewelry trade. Most are 10k gold but some are just gold plated brass. These tokens have an approximate value of $3-$5.
One of the last European adventures in the New World was France’s expedition to Mexico in 1861 which took advantage of the civil unrest there. Napoleon III of France set up a Mexican Empire ruled by Archduke Maximilian, the brother of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria.
Coins made under Maximilian that also feature his portrait are the silver 50 centavos (about the size of a U.S. half dollar), One Peso, about the size of a U.S. dollar and a 20 Pesos in gold also about the diameter of a U.S. Silver dollar (33.84 grams, .875 fine gold). Other minor coins show an eagle on one side and the denomination on the other.
All Maximilian’s coins show a denomination. The tiny “Maximilians” don’t. They are essentially “jetons”, that is non-monetary tokens, essentially souvenirs. Modern souvenir Maximilian gold tokens, as usually seen, are about half the size of a U.S. dime and dated between 1864-1867 though they were really made in the 20th century.
Giving gold coins as gifts for life events such as marriage (13 gold coins?) and births is common in Latin culture. The use of tokens such as Maximilians were an affordable substitute for genuine, though expensive, legal tender gold coins.
The United States refused to recognize the rule of Maximilian and demanded that France leave Mexico. France left but didn’t take poor Maximilian with them. He was very unpopular and was executed in 1867 and the Republic was restored.
I’m sure your token brought you much more luck than Maximilian.