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Private issues (bars, restaurants and cafes)

As stated in the article in the Mexican Herald in September 1914The Mexican Herald, 20th. Year, No. 6941, 8 September 1914 saloons issued a large amount of their own vales.

One set of vales had the name of the establishment, the denomination (without a 'c'), a number and the motto 'Drink Gautier Cognac' and so were probably supplied by the drinks company's agents. The cellars of Maison Gautier, more commonly known as Cognac Gautier, were established in an old water mill in Aigre on the Osme river, in Charente, France, when the family obtained a royal warrant to produce cognac and a founding charter signed by King Louis XV. The present company was founded in 1755.

Cognac Gautier

These include

Salon Bach

Salon Bach February 1906

Salon Bach ad

Bach 5c

A 5c note dated 24 August 1914.

Ironically, the Mexican Herald reported in September 1914 that saloons issued a large amount of their vales during the days immediately preceding their enforced closure, and that as these vales were good only at the particular saloon issuing them, patrons could not use them in any other establishments and consequently would lose their amounts if the saloons remain closed indefinitelyThe Mexican Herald, 20th Year, No. 6941, 8 September 1914.

Cantina Colón

Colon 10c

Colon 10c reverse

This cantina was situated at 4a calle de Bolivar 85. This particular note, dated 6 August 1915, was included in Casasola's exposition

La Universal


La Universal 5c

La Universal 5c reverse

The gran salon cantina and grocery "La Universal", run by the Spaniard Modesto Abrisqueta, was situated on the corner of 16 de Septiembre and Isabel la Católica. It was reopened, after renovations, on 2 November 1914: “The restored premises, for luxury and comforts, correspond to the demands of one of the most accredited and best located establishments in the capital”El Correo Español, Año XXVI, Núm. 7275, 2 November 1914.

Centro Mercantil

The department store El Centro Mercantil was built between 1897 and 1899 on the corner of calle de Tlaperos and Plaza de la Constitución and inaugurated on 2 September 1899 by General Porfirio Díaz. The building was intended to house twenty-three stores and a hundred offices on 3,600 square metres. It was renovated between 1911 and 1913.

Centro Mercantil 1

Centro Mercantil 2

Centro Mercantil 5c

A 5c note with the exhortation 'Tomen Cognac Gautier' so possibly a bar within the Centro Mercantil. This 5c note was included in Casasola's exposition

El Lazo Mercantil

El Lazo Mercantil

This cantina (and store?) was situated on the groundfloor of a colonial building on the corner of calle 5 de Febrero and calle República de Uruguay. In the 1920s the building was remodelled by the architect Luis Robles Gil and converted into the Hotel Ontario, possibly by Manuel Suárez y Suárez who acquired the building (as a grocery store) in 1922 - it's a small world. Today it is the Hampton Inn & Suites.

The cantina issued notes in two series. The first was probably one of three values (5c[image needed], 10c[image needed] and 20c)[image needed]) that had the advertising slogan "Tomen Cognac Gautier".

The other (5c, 10c and 20c), with dates from May 1915, has a datestamp with the name Palomo y González and address 31, 5 de Febrero and San Agustín.

El Lazo Mercantil 5c

El Lazo Mercantil 5c reverse

El Lazo Mercantil 10c

El Lazo Mercantil 10c reverse

The following three issues were slightly different, with the restauant of the Teatro Principal promoting Fino Gaditano and the cantina Monaco advertising Otard-Dupoy cognac. Fino Gadatino was a good quality but younger sherry, from Gonzalez Byass, in Andalucia, Spain, that is no longer produced, while the Cognac producer, Otard, Dupuy et Cie, was founded by Jean Dupuy in 1795.

Otard Dupuy

Restaurant Teatro Principal

Teatro Principal

The Teatro Principal, the oldest in Mexico, was located on the corner of calle de Bolivar and calle 16 de Septiembre. It burnt down in 1931.

The propietors were the señores Melero y Unzueta.

Teatro Principal

Teatro Principal 5c

Teatro Principal 10c reverse

Cantina Monaco

Monaco 10c

5c[image needed] and 10c notes.

Restaurant “Roma”

Roma 10c

A 10c note dated August 1914.

Another set were produced in tear-off strips. These included

“Antiguo Café y Nevería de Manrique”

Manrique 10c

Manrique 10c reverse

A cafe and ice-cream parlour run by Jesús Perea, hijo at 1a. calle de Manrique 4. This cafe, in Tacuba and Monte de Piedad, was certainly antiguo as it was the first café in Mexico, founded, according to a plaque, in 1789. It is said that Miguel Hidalgo plotted there.

Cafe de Tacuba

Tacuba 5c

cafe de TacubaHome delivery of chicken tamales! The Café de Tacuba, housed in a former convent, was opened in 1912 by Dionisio Mollinedo Hernández. It is still operating, run by Dionesio’s great grandson, Juan Pablo Ballesteros, with almost the same décor and dishes.

5c and 10c notes were included in Casasola's exposition

“La America”

La America 5c

La America 10c

La America 20c

La America 20c reverse

A bar, pool hall and bowling alley run by the Spaniard, Antonio Pérez. The 20c notes are dated to 6 September 1914.

Cantina Lobby

Lobby 10c

Lobby 10c reverse

Lobby 20c

Lobby 20c reverse

A cantina run by Tomás López at 1a San Francisco 8.

Some designs were particular to the establishment, thus

Cafe de Berna


A 50c note. This note was part of a display of vales photographed by Casasola in c. 1915

Cercle Francais de México

This long-established association had its own restaurant and bar run by J. B. Zerboni.

Cercle Francais 20c

Cercle Francais 20c reverse

10c[image needed] and 20c notes, the latter known dated 8 February 1916.

El Alcázar


El Alcazar July 1909 1

El Alcazar July 1909 2

El Alcazar 20c

El Alcazar 20c reverse

A cafe, restaurant and ice cream parlour at Gante 7. The stamp on the reverse reads 'TRINIDAD GUARNEROS - ABARROTES NACIONALES Y EXTRANJEROS - OTUM[   ] MEXICO' and is dated 1 September 1915. This particular note was included in Casasola's exposition


This retail company was founded in Mexico City on 19 June 1903 by Walter and Frank Sanborn, two immigrants from California, who also opened Mexico’s first soda fountain. The original location was across from the main post office and is still in operation.

During the Mexican Revolution, troops of Emiliano Zapata used Sanborns as a gathering place, a fact that gave rise to some iconic photographsIconic indeed, and worthy of interpretation. “In December 1914, during the occupation of Mexico City by the División del Norte, and the Zapatista Liberation Army of the South, a group of Zapatistas decided to eat at Sanborns. Their decision to go there was surely not accidental. They knew that Sanborns was where the most powerful people in Mexico shopped and ate. An unknown photographer documented the movement of the troops in the capital and accompanied the Zapatistas into Sanborns. The presence of the Zapatista soldiers in Sanborns signaled that a new political power had arrived in the capital city. Scholars and journalists have often erroneously attributed the setting of these images as within the Casa de los Azulejos. In fact, Sanborns had not yet moved into what would become their flagship location. This common misunderstanding is important to note because Sanborns held social significance long before their store occupied the historic building. The Zapatistas were eating in one of the two Sanborn drugstores found in downtown Mexico City, the one at 12 San Francisco Street and Betlemitas (now Filomeno Mata).
The photographer took several shots of the Zapatistas in Sanborns. One image that is now known as “Sanborns waitresses attend the Zapatistas,” depicts a group of soldiers eating their breakfast at the soda-fountain bar of the drugstore.37 The major contrasts in the photograph make this particular image very powerful, showing the revolutionary soldiers within an elegant salon of the Porfirian regime. The duality of the situation invites the spectator to glance into the changing political culture of Mexico during the violent period of the Revolution.38 The image shows a group of rugged Zapatistas wearing bandoliers and sombreros resting their rifles along the lunch counter while drinking coffee and eating bread served by the Sanborns waitresses.
The female workers are shown positioned behind the bar in black dresses, black shirtwaist, and white aprons. One waitress in the center of the photograph posed with her arms extended holding a coffee cup had her eyes fixed ahead towards the soldier who is looking at the camera. The Zapatistas were dining inside the new Sanborns refreshment parlor, the recently inaugurated part of the store devoted to the company’s expanding ice cream and soda fountain business. The soldiers sat around the marble lunch counter in a large room painted white and lined with gold framed mirrors.
These photographs never appeared in illustrated magazines or newspapers at the time. However, they nevertheless came to represent powerful visual testaments of the temporary upheaval of Mexico’s social order during the Mexican Revolution.
Scholars who have analyzed these photographs tend to focus on race and class. Carlos Monsiváis, in his description of the photograph, suggested that, “primitivism peek[ed] into an important site of Porfirian power in order to permit careful comparisons with the elegant ‘científicos’ of the fallen regime.” The Zapatistas had entered a “sacred zone in order to commit profanity, and then, disappear[ed] without a trace
Fernando Benitez said the Zapatistas, “clutched their cups of coffee awkwardly while the waitresses contemplated the great savages as submissive and as frightened as themselves.
The Spanish writer and journalist Arturo Pérez-Reverte described the group of, “serious looking mustached guerrillas so burned by the sun that their skin looks black.”
Andrea Noble noted, “The lack of élan for the city is clearly legible in the faces of these Zapatista troops, whose rural demeanor is wholly incongruous in the gentrified ambience of the North-American ‘soda fountain.”
The significance of the racial descriptions used in these analyses are the binaries that separate a sense of place and entitlement. Sanborns represented the natural site of distinction for elite white Mexicans while the uncouth, rustic, and racially dark colored Zapatistas seemed unsuitable in their urban surroundings. The Zapatistas entered Sanborns because they understood the store’s social meaning and they recognized it as a place reserved for powerful Mexicans. Eating in there served as a symbolic act of resistance against the old Porfirian regime. To borrow from Michel de Certeau, since the Zapatistas lacked their own space in Mexico City, they had to “get along in a network of already established forces and representations.”
What made aristocratic institutions like Sanborns unwelcoming for rural peasant outsiders had much to do with the racial politics and class tensions of the time. During the Porfiriato, indigenous people suffered widespread discrimination due to their ethnicity and were caricaturized in the press as being incompatible with modernity. Sanborns, on the other hand, held particular racial and class connotations connected with Porfirian power and upper-class respectability. Mexicans living in and around the capital understood that Sanborns represented a place of leisure for Mexico City’s upper-class. In choosing to eat there, the Zapatistas deliberately challenged the social meaning of the institution and its associations with Porfirian power and U.S.-styled modern consumerism. They had used the store as a stage to publicly contest state power. The image of the Zapatistas in Sanborns photographs are similar to other acts of political iconoclasm.

On 16 March 1999, eight members from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) entered Sanborns at the House of Tiles. Wearing their black ski-masks, the group walked towards the back of the store and symbolically recreated the famous scene from eighty-five years before, when the Zapatistas Army from the South had entered the capital and ate along the bar at a Sanborns. The newspaper Reforma reported that Subcommandante Marcos, along with his group of male and female delegates had traveled from La Realidad in the jungles of Chiapas to Mexico City, “to promote the national consultation for the Recognition of the Rights of Indigenous People and for the End of the War of Extermination” in Chiapas. Groups of photographers and television cameras gathered to witness the historic event, as members from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) met and ate alongside the Zapatistas. Sanborns waitresses, cooks, and cleaners could not help but greet their famous customers. The Reforma article included a photo recreation of the iconic 1914 photograph of the Zapatistas in Sanborns. In a similar framing, the masked Zapatistas are positioned at the bar while a Sanborns waitress extends her arms with a tray holding a beverage. … As the Zapatistas finished their meal, they filed out through the tea salon while customers shouted, “Long live the EZLN!” and, “Zapata lives!” A reporter asked a delegate from the Zapatistas if they knew what happened in Sanborns eight decades ago. “We know history,” he responded.”( Kevin M. Chrisman, Meet me at Sanborns: Labor, Leisure, Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Mexico, York University, Toronto, Ontario, October, 2018)


To address the shortage of small change Sanborns produced chits, specifically stated to be “for the exclusive use and convenience of our clients”. 20c and 50c values are known.

Sanborns 50c

  series from to total
20c  C         includes number 981CNBanxico #10815


The signatory is [  ] R. Porter.

[ ] R. Porter sig Porter


On 23 June 1915 the Conventionist newspaper El Combate indignantly wrote: 'The cashier at the Sanborn’s drugstore (three calluses on each finger), showing that she is not only ugly but ill educated, refuses to accept the notes that she does not like: yes, the ones that she does not like. And when forced by the outright and convincing arguments of a customer to accept the paper money, she tries at all costs to give in change the shop’s own vales.
Governor, by what right is the famous house of Sanborn’s, which sells cocaine to the effeminate rich (FifisFifi was a characterization as being an upper-class effeminate man. This gendered charge was typical of the time period and the phrase was used to pick on members of the upper-class. Other Mexican newspapers used the term fifí to describe upper-class male customers at Sanborns, e.g. Acción Mundial, 28 April 1916. “La Droguería Sanborns,” “llego otro marchante, mexicano, uno de tantos fifís muy de la casa.” and El Universal, 2 November 1919, “Johnson Fifí!” (ironically, about a fanous African-American refused service because of his colour)) to powder their noses, authorized to issue paper money, or customers obliged to accept those filthy things called vales, which ought to be sent to the Board of Health for disinfection?"El Combate, Tomo I, Núm. 8, 23 June 1915

El Combate returned to the theme on 7 JulyEl Combate, Tomo I, Núm. 20, 7 July 1915, and finally on 27 July the governor of the Federal District banned the use of these vales by shops, hotels, cantinas, restaurants etc under threat of a fine[text needed]El Renovador, Tomo I, Núm. 36, 30 July 1915.

Finally, we need images before we can categorise the following issue.

Cantina Salón Azul

A 5c note[image needed] from this cantina, run by D. Celorio Hermanos.

Cantina Salón Paris

A 10c note[image needed] from this cantina run by Placido González Carrera. The Salón Paris was located at the corner of avenida de los Hombres Ilustres (today avenida Hidalgo) and 1a calle Puente de Mariscala. 

“La Fama Italiana”

La Fama Italiana postcard

La Fama ItalianaA 5c note[image needed] from a gran salon cantina, on the corner of calle de San Francisco and calle de Bolivar, run by Valentín Fernández.

“La Fama Mexicana”

La Fama Mexicana

A 5c note[image needed], number 896, from a restaurant situated at 2a calle de Bolivar 21 was included in Casasola's exposition

Restaurant Sylvain

Restaurant Sylvain June 1906

Sylvain ad

The Restaurante Sylvain was located at calle de Coliseo (today Bolivar) 36. Its chef, Sylvain Daumont, was President Díaz’ chef for special occasions, and the restaurant was renowned for its cuisine. That it was reduced to issuing vales shows how the shortage of small change affected all levels of society.

We know of a 5c note[image needed].