2012 may have been the year predicted by the Mayans to be the end of the world, and the House of Money (Casa de Moneda), a.k.a. the Mexican Mint, seems to be treating it as such. First, they shocked collectors by refusing to offer the fractional libertad proof coins that had been minted since 1992. They offered only the 1 ounce proof coin and only the BU fractionals. Then, by all accounts, the 2012 1 ounce proof libertad sold out in hours, selling for a high premium before it was ever received by USA collectors.
As we mentioned in this blog before- with the discontinuation of the fractionals- perhaps they were going to offer something later on in the year as a ‘surprise’ set? It was 1982 that the first 1 ounce silver libertad went on sale, and 1992 that the first libertad fractional arrived. Would there be a 30th anniversary of libertad or 20th anniversary of fractionals set?
We have our answer! On July 8th the Banco de Mexico released the “surprise” 30th Anniversary Libertad Set. Featuring a mintage of just 1500, with a wooden box, COA, and perhaps most noteworthy, a gold-plated bronze statue figurine fashioned after the Winged Goddess of Victory. The statute was first seen last year in the difficult to find 30th anniversary gold proof set- limited to just 500 (and priced in the 4-5k range).
What does this mean? Well, for one, these sets are going to be tough to find. Although 1500 were produced, various reports list the numbers as being between 700-900 offered for sale in Mexico, and between 600-800 offered to European dealers. This leaves the USA collectors with the task of having to buy through distributors connected to Mexico or Europe.
The two-coin set contains the 1/2 ounce libertad BU and the 1 ounce proof- neither of which is unique to the set. However, unlike the US Mint releases, libertad collectors have shown a willingness to pay a substantial premium for set offerings that remain in the wood boxes with the COA’s. There is also the matter of the beautiful gold statuette, which is not available anywhere else except the very expensive gold proof set from last year.
Finally, there is a “cool factor” with this set- it just looks really beautiful with the gold figure. In a year where they stopped producing the fractional proofs (and the 2 and 5 ounce proofs), this set stands alongside the US Mint’s SF two coin set as one of the most intriguing two-coin sets of the year.
Now, will they offer another set commemorating the fractionals? It’s not likely, as they haven’t done multiple set offerings in the past. Those who think they might, however, would point to the 2011 proof gold sets, which were released without the figurines in a slightly higher mintage. So, if they follow course it would suggest that if they did release another set, it would only be a non-figure set. And, since both coins are available separately, a large premium could lead to dealers selling the sets with a single proof and half ounce BU coin themselves (and even throwing in a spare box) and billing it as the 30th anniversary set. This is often done with the other libertad sets (particularly the 2011 proof set), since the wooden box with COA proof sets of the last few years have been limited to 1000. A search on eBay on completed listings reveals that buyers will pay much more for the in-the-box-with-the-coa version- sometimes close to double. The gold goddess statuette will likely add even more to the premium.
In an exciting year with more questions than answers, it seems as if the Mexico Mint is taking the approach (either on purpose or not) of keeping collectors in the dark- which could lead to an offering flying under the radar and then becoming very popular later on. Assuming, of course, that the Mayans were wrong about 2012.