2015 Libertad update: scarce Proofs and Reverse Proofs
There have been several interesting developments in the past few weeks regarding one of my favorite modern world coin series, the Mexican silver Libertad.
Libertads, which are also struck in gold, are issued both in bullion strikes and in Proof, and both versions are very popular with collectors. The coins are best known for their gorgeous design that depicts the statue of Winged Victoria, which sits on the top of the Angel of Independence, a prominent monument in Mexico City built in 1921 to mark the 100th anniversary of Mexican independence from Spain in 1821.
But what really gets collectors going about this series is their incredibly low mintages, even for the bullion issues, which make these coins very hard to find not long after their release.
Two important developments have emerged. First, as was the case in 2014, though perhaps even more so this year, the Proof versions, currently being released, are very hard to come by and are likely to represent one of the lowest mintage years.
One major U.S. distributor of coins from the Casa de Moneda, or Mexican Mint, Lois and Don Bailey and Son Numismatic Services, told me that their allocation of 2015 Proofs was a fraction of what they were hoping to receive. And another company, APMEX, has listed the 1-ounce Proof coin for sale at $140, which is more than twice the initial retail price of recent issues.
Once again, it is the two- and five-ounce coins that are likely to be the big winners, especially the two-ounce piece. I noticed that a very reputable German dealer is currently asking almost as much for the two-ounce as for the five-ounce coin.
Although individual Proof coins are only being released now, the five- and seven-coin Proof sets in wooden boxes have been available for a while and are bringing strong premiums.
Proof coin mintages will not be known until later this year.
The other development is the release of the first-ever Reverse Proof silver Libertad, which Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Professional Coin Grading Service are calling "Proof Like" when the coins are graded.
These coins (with a mintage of 1,500) were only released in two sets: a two-coin set with Reverse and regular Proof strikes, produced at APMEX's initiative (500 sets issued), and a three-coin set that also includes the regular business strike, which was only given to Mexican Bank employees (1,000 sets issued). A small number of those sets have made their way into the U.S.
Finally, I was struck by an exchange I came across on NGC's Collectors Society blog on the long-term potential for these coins.
The issue was whether Libertads would ever be as widely collected as American Eagle silver coins, and whether any Libertad issues would ever sell for as much as the 1995-W Proof American Eagle silver dollar coin.
I would simply say that while the market for American Eagles is likely to remain much larger, the market for Libertads continues to grow, and those who have underestimated these coins have missed out on great opportunities.