Mexican Silver Libertad Bullion and Proof Coins

Of all the world bullion coins, arguably the most beautiful is the Mexican Libertad.  Minted since 1982, in the oldest mint in North America, the Casa de Moneda de Mexico (literally the House of Mexican Money, founded in 1535 by the Spanish as a way of minting coins with the gold plundered in conquest) the .999 silver bullion coins first featured  a winged Victory of Mexican Independence on one side, and behind her is the volcanoes with the story of Popocatepetl and Iztacchihuatl.

These are sometimes called the type 1 Libertads, and were minted from 1982 to 1995.  The story is that Popocateptl fell in love with the princess Izataccihuatl, and like Romeo and Juliet they were from different tribes and couldn’t be together so while Popocateptl was in battle, one of his enemies spread a rumor that he was dead, and the princess died of a broken heart.  When he returned, he laid her body on a mountain, that takes her name to this day, and the peak that has his name is in tribute of him watching over her remains.

The view of the winged victory was changed in 1996 and the reverse of the familiar eagle with a snake in his mouth over a cactus was shrunk to include room for the Mexican province symbols.  Similar to the American Eagle, the basis of the Libertad was a 50 peso (gold) coin used from 1921-1947.

The Libertads minted only 1 ounce BU coins from 1982 to 1990, and then in 1991 began minting fractional coins: 1/20 ounce of silver, 1/10 ounce of silver, 1/4, 1/2, 1 ounce silver coins.  In 1996 a 2 ounce and 5 ounce coin was added.  The mintages are difficult to assess for a variety of reasons: tiny mintages in some cases, and many coins were melted down by jewelry makers as silver prices dropped, and melted down by bullion dealers as silver rose.  The lowest mintage of the 1 oz BU libertads is the 1998, with 67,000.  The lowest of the 1/20 ounce is 1998 at 6400.  6400 is also the lowest 1/10,1/4,1/2 B U.  The lowest BU 2 ounce is 2300 (1998) and 5 ounce is 2300 (1998).

The 3 year stretch of 1997, 1998, and 1999 is sometimes referred to as the “Holy Trinity” of Libertads, due to the insane scarcity of coins minted in those years (1997: 100,000, 1998: 67,000, 1999: 95,000).  It gets even crazier in the proof coins (see below).

Average Libertad prices range from around 40$ for a ‘common’ year, to around $240 for the 1998.  The prices don’t seem to be affected too much by spot except the most common years.  There are a few varieties of the Libertad that are recognized, most notably the 1991 has a variety in which the word “onza” is printed with different lettering and sells for a premium of around double the normal 1991.

A giant Kilogram silver coin, with a proof-like finish was added in 2002, and the mintages have gone from 1820 in 2002, to a low of 500 in 2005.  Sometimes these kilos fetch huge premiums sometimes they are a few hundred over melt.  The Libertad market is highly volatile and due to its low mintage, can be a very exciting series to try to stay on top of.

Proof Libertads are among the most difficult and valuable of any modern proof silver coin.  They started with a proof set in 1983 that came as part of a government set, with a mintage of 998.  Then there were no more proofs produced until 1986 (the most common year, with 30,000 minted).  Since 1986, the 1 ounce has been produced every year, and then in 1992, fractional proofs were announced.  From 1992 until 1995, 1/20, 1/10,1/4, 1/2, 1 ounce proofs were produced as sets, usually in holdered pouches by the Mexican mint.

The 1998 1 ounce proof- probably the most well known of the hard to find proofs, regularly fetches around $2,500, and the mintages of some of the proofs are absolutely comical.  The 1 ounce 1998 proof has a mintage of 500, The fractionals are even more scarce- the 1/20 ounce proof (and the 1/4 and 1/10 from 1998, have a mintage of 300).  300!?

When you factor in the coins lost and sold, you can see the Libertad market has maybe 3 changing hands of these mintages per year (or less).

*All mintages are available on for perusal here.

In 1996, with the new Libertad design, the new proofs also began offering 2 ounce and 5 ounce silver proof coins.  These have always been very low mintages (the 1999 5 ounce has a mintage of 100 and sells for thousands), the 1999 2 ounce proof has a mintage of 280 and is similarly priced.

Don Bailey is the most reliable source for figures from the Libertads and he states that the 2011 mintages dipped a bit for the 2 ounce proof (only 1000) and the kilo (1000).  The 5 ounce proof came in at only 2000.  The 1/2 ounce proof and 1/4 ounce proof came in at only 5000.  You regularly see ‘wooden box’ libertad proof sets for years come up for sale.  These fetch a substantial premium because all of the wooden box sets were limited to a max of 1000 per year.

Gold Libertads are a separate post, but here’s a nutshell: the gold proofs have been offered since 2005 in 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 ounce proof.  The BU 1 ounce has been offered in 1981, and then from 1991-1994 offered as fractionals, and again in 2000, and then from 2002 to 2011.

Now, enough of the background- here’s the big news!

2012 marks the first year since 1991 that Libertad proofs will not be offered in fractional or 2 and 5 ounce sizes.

Repeat- Don Bailey reports that the ONLY 2012 Libertads that will be produced by the Mexican Mint this year are the 1 ounce BU, the 1 ounce Proof and the 2 and 5 ounce BU.

Here is what his newsletter says: 

In 2012, there will be only one silver proof coin forthcoming: the 1oz silver Libertad proof. There will be no other silver proof coins. There will be no 5pc silver Libertad proof sets.  There will be no 5pc gold Libertad proof sets.

The coins that will be offered for 2012 are as follows:

1 oz BU

2 oz BU

5 oz BU

1/2 oz BU

1/4 oz BU

1/10 oz BU

(Yes, no 1/20 oz coin)

and the 1oz gold Libertad BU.

I understand that many of you are scratching their heads wondering why, and my best answer is budget constraints.  

So- what does this mean for the future of Libertad collectors/collections?  Well, for one, it at the very least makes 2012 a confusing year.  One theory is that since 1992 was the first year of fractional proofs, perhaps there will be a 30th anniversary set (my theory).  The other theory is that they are putting the fractional proofs to bed like the American buffalo fractionals, and now you can make a complete a set from 1982/3 (if you include the 1 ounce proofs) to 2012 with only the 1992-2011 fractional proofs.  At the very least, it makes one of the most beautiful coins in the world that was already incredibly scarce, even more tricky to collect, and provides the kind of spark to keep collectors guessing!

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Comments

  1. Louis says

    Gabriel,
    This is a terrific post. The best piece I have seen on Libertads.

    Just two points I am not sure about. You mentioned the wooden box proof sets have a mintage of 1,000. I know the 2011 sets and some others have a mintage of 1,000, but I thought it varied by year. Aren’t some years like 2010 higher than 1,000?

    Also, do we know at this point what the 2012 proof 1 ounce mintage is? Is it set in advance? Same for the bullion coins? Are the mintages all predetermined by the Mint in advance, or is it a function of sales and demand?

    Thanks, Louis

    • ken parks says

      Just fyi- purchased a wood set and it had a gold figure with it. Says that half were domestic with gold plated winged liberty and other half were shipped out of Mexico with silver players liberty! So 500 of each were minted.

  2. G says

    Louis- In the past they haven’t predetermined the mintage- I think it’s like the silver eagles, they just mint to demand- or until they run out of silver or don’t feel like minting anymore. Word has it that until a few years ago, you could show up at the mint and purchase any of the coins they had at face value (and a few people seem to have funded mexico city vacations this way)- but my understanding is the wooden box sets were only offered up to a maximum of 1000 (meaning that some of the years, much fewer were offered- as seems to be the case of the 2008′s, which I think is the first year of the wooden boxes, and probably closer to only 500 of those sets are out there ‘in the box’)

  3. says

    G,

    Fantastic work, really glad you became a contributor to this blog! I’ll echo Louis’ comments and say this is easily the best thing I’ve ever seen written on libertads. It’s also incredibly exhaustive as well. I will be distributing this to the guys in my group as a couple are interested in libertads.

    Again, great piece, hope to see you do more in the future!

  4. Louis says

    Thanks for your response, G. If had the funds, I would specialize in these coins. Now I am torn between getting a 2011 proof set, which may be the last one, or getting the new 1 oz proof and a 5 ouncer. Then again a five ounce 2011 proof would be awesome too! Too bad I can’t print up some money like a central bank!

    Good luck with your new endeavors.

  5. eric says

    Great article on a beautiful coin,
    we have no clue as to survival rate
    after melt of mexican coins,
    and i think this great set deserves our attention
    at least as much as the way priced up
    pandas of the world.

  6. Fosnock says

    @Natatack

    I have bought them from APMEX but based on a recommendation from CO I have been purchasing bullion from Provident Metals, and they carry Libertads.

    Does anyone know the release data foe 2012 Libertads?

  7. G says

    Thanks for the support on the article! I have to thank Michael for asking me to write it- I hope all of you will consider writing articles as well- as we clearly have lots of experts on different coins on this site. Fosnock- the 2012 libertads have been released (the bullion) and the proof coins are being released next week.

  8. Two Cents says

    Gabriel, wonderful job! You not only fully explained the Libertad series, but also in a well-written, concise manner. The pictures are great too. Hope to hear more from you.

  9. jeff72 says

    Soooo…if 2011 is the last of these 5-coin sets….that means what? ….off-the-charts in appreciation?

  10. Shutter says

    Word has it that until a few years ago, you could show up at the mint and purchase any of the coins they had at face value

    What is the “face value” on those coins? Looking at various pictures, I was not able to see anything that identifies them as legal tender.

  11. Louis says

    @jeff72- 2011 could be the last set, maybe, but it is not the lowest mintage, which appears to be 2008. So i don’t know which one would have the higher premium down the road.

  12. G says

    2008 is lowest of wood boxes- but lowest set would be the 1998- which I’ve never seen in the mint packaging (only 300). The other mint proof sets
    in packaging can be found rarely.

  13. Alan says

    Libertads have no face value, so they aren’t a legal tender. I suppose it would be more appropriate to call them “government minted silver rounds”, but everybody calls them coins. I think this may be because the predecessor to the Libertad was meant to take on a legal tender status but never did. I think of Libertads as non-denominated coins. :)

  14. Two Cents says

    I seem to recall another one ounce silver coin minted by Mexico. They were called the Troy Onza and depicted an old-time coin press on the obverse and a scale on the reverse (or vice-versa). I believe they were minted beginning in the late 1940s. This was at a time when silver coinage, including silver pesos, was in circulation, and these Troy Onzas were supposed to circulate too. I think in a limited way, they did circulate and their value in purchases or redemptions was based on the current silver spot.

    I don’t know when they stopped making them, but it could have been just before the Libertads came out. I remember seeing ads from coin dealers selling newly-minted ones in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and in the later years, they were apparently made mostly for collectors.

    I don’t think they ever caught on with collectors, though, because they were not pure silver, but coin silver, either.925 or .900 or thereabouts, whatever the Mexican silver coins were. At the time, collectors and bullion investors were more interested in bullion bars, which were .999 and were all the rage.

  15. Rolling Thunder says

    Off topic again-

    but Perth Mint will be releasing a “purple” 1 oz dragon ANDA version at the Brisbane coin show end of May – see Perth Mint blog or Silver Lunar websites

    I suspect like me, many are getting sick & tired of all these Perth dragons

  16. Broooster says

    Gainesville now has Royal Mint products. Anyone interested in a Proof Britannia, mintage 2,450, they have them.

  17. jeff72 says

    I’m fairly new to the Libertads….but they are really beautiful medallions er coins …or what ever they are called by aficionados……I’m surprised that one can still obtain a 2011 5-coin proof set…..this may be the last year for the set!!

    Wonder what that will do to collect-ability and value!

  18. David says

    The article mentions the 1998 BU 1/20 as having the lowest mintage of the 1/20 BU’s, but according to Don Bailey’s website there were only 3500 2007 BU 1/20 minted. Am I misreading something?

  19. G says

    David- the 1998 PROOF libertads are the lowest mintage- there were only 300 Total of each of the fractionals (except the 1/2 ounce, which may or may not have 1500). The figure you are reading are for the brilliant uncirculated (BU) coins- which is like your standard American Eagle versus the Proof AE. Huge uptick in the price of the proofs- although I think the uncirculateds will follow (as 3500 is a tiny mintage in its own right). I think these coins are extremely undervalued across the board considering the beauty and the mintage. Can you imagine a silver eagle with a mintage of 3500 or a silver eagle proof with a mintage of 500?

  20. Louis says

    G,
    I agree they are probably undervalued, but you can’t really compare a low mintage Libertad with an eagle because there is a huge difference in the collector/investor base. Otherwise, Libertads would already sell for a lot more.

  21. jeff72 says

    so…do we think the 2011 5-coin proof set is a good “upside” investment? ….generally -a last set of anything is…but again, new to the Libertads.

  22. Samuel says

    jeff, i ordered one yesterday. but if the collector base is small, i wont see huge upside possibility. i have been watching the apmex 5-coin set inventory. since last time G mentioned the issue about a month ago, the quantity decrease from maybe 64 to the current 50. seems not many people want to buy it.

  23. G says

    Samuel/Jeff- I would say that any of the year sets will appreciate- I don’t think it is common knowledge that they are not making the full sets this year and/or discontinuing permanently. My experience is that libertads tend to stay flat and then jump way up in value- for example the 2007 bullion issue was readily available in 2010 for around $30 and now sells for around $100. A lot of new coin collectors seem to be picking up the series and eventually going back and trying to put together a set, and prices have followed. 2011 was one of the higher mintage years of the proof coins, but look around for the other year sets- very hard to find. My opinion is that not many people who have these ever sell them.

  24. jeff72 says

    Samual…..I ordered a few sets myself :) …..I’m thinking once it becomes known that this is the last 5-coin proof set…there could be a decent upside over time…for now though…APMEX inventory is dwindling…but not as rapid as I figured it would….still could happen though when collectors land on this forum.

    G ……I’m in your court regarding your statement: ” I would say that any of the year sets will appreciate- I don’t think it is common knowledge that they are not making the full sets this year and/or discontinuing permanently”.

    I kinda like having the last of the set series in my collection …I’m reckoning others will as well…..

  25. Steve says

    Thanks for the very informative article. I went to the Wikipedia link above and to Banco de Mexico for 2011 mintages and both only list 2010 and before. Do you have final mintages for 2011 on the unc? Also, I have been putting together my own 5 coin sets of the uncs since they are a bit more affordable for me. In your travels, do you know of any store that sells 5 coin Libertad plastic holders (1oz-1/20th) so that they can be displayed as a 1 year set?

  26. Louis says

    I like the sets too, but where has it been stated with authority such as by the Mint that it is the last one? As far as I know, what has been said is that there will only be a 1 ounce proof for 2012. No one except some folks above have said there will definitely not be one next year or later. Right? I am not saying don’t buy them, but I am not convinced this is the last one.

  27. says

    Wow…I ordered the 2009 5 oz proof Libertad from APMEX a couple of days ago…they had 94 remaining…tonight they indicate “none”…I wonder what’s up with that?

  28. G says

    Steve- wow is right- somebody must have cleaned them out- I think they were selling for a pretty low price too. As far as 2013… Probably as good of a guess as the W burnished gold eagles

  29. jeff72 says

    Louis says:
    April 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm
    I like the sets too, but where has it been stated with authority such as by the Mint that it is the last one? As far as I know, what has been said is that there will only be a 1 ounce proof for 2012. No one except some folks above have said there will definitely not be one next year or later. Right? I am not saying don’t buy them, but I am not convinced this is the last one.

    Louis -what you stated above was my dilemma as well, I was on the fence -but while I was sitting there…the 2011 set kept going up! APMEX $154 to $189! just a few days ago ….-I’m envisioning another price increase once their supplies dwindle further. Other sites are selling the 2011 for $220+

  30. Louis says

    @jeff72– Thanks a lot, good point. I did not know they originally listed the set at $154. I have noticed sets on e-Bay have been going for about $220.

  31. Dano says

    There is a very reputable seller that has quite a few of the scarcer 5oz coins listed on ebay,as well as other sizes right now.Be prepared with your wallet though!…I actually stumbled upon his listings after he had purchased a proof dragon coin from me.I reviewed his feedback and it appears he’s been holding these coins for just such an occasion like now,while they seem to be ultra hot.He is also in accord with G in that,he told me these coins run in cycles.You just have to be prepared to hold for awhile.Until just recently he hasn’t sold any Libertads on ebay since around last September.But his prior sales include many key dates including:
    July/2011 1995 LIBERTAD Proof 1oz for $310
    July/2011 2003 LIBERTAD Proof 2oz for $434
    July/2011 2002 LIBERTAD Proof 2oz for $394
    July/2011 2000 LIBERTAD Proof 1oz for $565
    July/2011 1999 LIBERTAD Proof 1oz for $2,649(wow)
    July/2011 2001 LIBERTAD Proof 1oz for $315
    July/2011 1997 LIBERTAD Proof 1oz for $500
    Then there is a period of almost exactly one year with little activity and just a few of the more common dates.

    Then again in July/2010:just a couple sales:
    July/2010 2000 LIBERTAD Proof 2 oz for $250
    July/2010 2002 Libertad PROOF 1 ounce for $76

    Then going back further to April/May 2010:
    2005 Libertad PROOF 1 ounce $76
    2002 Libertad PROOF 1 ounce $76
    2004 Libertad PROOF 1 ounce $72
    2000 Libertad PROOF 1/2 Ounce $85
    2007 Libertad PROOF 1 ounce $59
    2007 Libertad PROOF 5 coin .999 Silver Set 1oz-1/20oz $129
    1997 Libertad BU 5 Ounce $135

    Now going back to February of 2010:
    2004 Libertad PROOF 2ounce $89
    2001 Libertad PROOF 2oz $171
    2002 Libertad PROOF 5 coin .999 Silver Set 1oz-1/20oz $151
    2001 Libertad PROOF 1oz $99
    2008 Kilo Libertad Case Coa and outer Box only 1,000 $899(WOW!)
    2004 5 Ounce BU Libertad $119
    2002 Libertad PROOF 5 coin .999 Silver Set 1oz-1/20oz $135
    Lastly for December 2009 and two months prior:
    2004 2 ounce Mexican Libertad Proof Coin $80
    2006 5 ounce Mexican Libertad Proof $180
    1992 LIBERTAD 5 Coin Silver Proof set CASE & COA $99
    1993 LIBERTAD 5 Coin Silver Proof set CASE & COA $99
    2006 5 ounce Mexican Libertad Proof Coin $179
    1996 Libertad 5 ounce .999 silver Proof coin $207
    2003 Libertad 5 ounce .999 silver Proof coin $250
    2002 Libertad 2oz .999 silver Proof coin $126
    2002 Libertad 5 ounce .999 silver Proof coin $175
    1999 Libertad *5 coin proof set* 1 oz & 4 Fractionals $760
    2000 Libertad *5 coin proof set* 1 oz & 4 Fractionals $645

    Anyways,I just thought I would post some”real world”actual realized auction prices over the last few years from a reputable seller with 100% positive feedback.I guess its not really enough of a timeline to see these “cycles”but to me it looks like they just go up,up,up!Of course much has to do with the rise in price of silver the last two years amongst other factors,but in my opinion the Libertad looks to be a solid investment.I just wish I had this insight 2 years ago!!
    I also noticed in this seller’s feedback,many ebay users that I’ve bought libertads from,and now I know where they had gotten them from a year before they sold them to me.
    Thank you G,this was a great article and I’m sure we’ll all be watching to see how it goes this year and early next year.

  32. says

    G….I realize that most have moved on to the most recent thread, but I just wanted to follow up…I receivd my 2009 5 oz from APMEX and it is flawless…the price was $204 and we discussed earlier, someone grabbed them all at that price.
    I’m still debating on the 2011 5 coin proof set in the wood box. On the one hand, I almost bought one from APMEX when the price was around $154-157, but sells on the bay were still arond $172…now APMEX is at $195, but that still seems reasonable…last one on ebay was $235.
    I think though when you consider everything…possibly last year of fractionals, etc. you probably won’t lose money on a 2011 5 coin proof set in a wood box for $195 + $10 shipping. Do you agree?

  33. G says

    steve- I’m a big fan of the sets- just be sure it’s one of the ones that are numbered only out of 1000. I’ve seen some that are sold “in wooden box” – but not the limited box of 1000. nice score on the 2009!!

  34. jeff72 says

    hmmm…

    G says:
    April 30, 2012 at 2:24 am
    steve- I’m a big fan of the sets- just be sure it’s one of the ones that are numbered only out of 1000. I’ve seen some that are sold “in wooden box” – but not the limited box of 1000. nice score on the 2009!!

    Jeff72 says: I ordered a few from Ampex…they look Mexico Mint legit…I may need to follow up with them to see….-thanks for the tip

  35. coolcoins says

    Libertads are fabulous coins. So happy to see articles about them as they were under the radar for years. Now they are getting tougher to find and the most rare coins are going way up in price. Check out the toned silver libertads too, amazing coins and very hard to find. They tone like Morgans. Beware of the doctored coins where someone colors them with heat and chemicals!

  36. Phil says

    I live in Spain where there isn’t much of a market for the Libertads. They can often be picked up in markets/national websites at the same price, around 35 euros, regardless of year. Nobody seems to have been reading you info and doing their homework.
    I picked up a 1998 1oz BU in Madrid for 35 euros. Only in the last few months have I noticed that prices seem to be varying depending on years. Time to get in there quick and fill your boots!
    Do you reckon the 2007s will take off (200, 000 mintage)?
    Is the different type “OnZa” lettering restricted to the 1991 coin as I think it is also seen on the ’92?

  37. Phil says

    Hi,

    Thanks for the valuable information. I’ve just got interested in Libertads and have started looking to purchase a few. I’ve been offered one ounce coins from 1996 through 1999. However, I am confused as the reverse on these coins still features the original large snake rather than the smaller snake surrounded by the coat-of-arms of the various states, which I thought had been introduced as of 1996 along with the change to the Angel. Are there different versions? Is there a difference in value? I would appreciate any help.

    Thanks

    Phil

  38. G says

    Phil- there should be a new libertad post forthcoming. The different obverse you are naming might be because you are being offered fractionals – there weren’t different versions for the same year in the same denominations other than the known variations. The 96-99 years are very scarce.

  39. Bob says

    Hi,
    I was wondering if the 1991 libertad was the only year that had the two different spellings of the word onza. I have two, one with onza and the other with ONZA. Iwould appreciate any info.
    thanks

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