Late into the 2014 calendar, Libertad collectors can finally celebrate the elusive 2014 silver proof releases. Each year seems to present another strange and exciting chapter, and 2014 is no different. All of the 2014 Libertad Proofs sold out from the Mexican Mint in just one hour.
This includes the kilo coin, the 5, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/10, and 1/20 ounce proofs. The 2014 mintages likely will be similar to 2013 mintages (early word on the street has it)- which in non-libertad terms means “insanely rare” just not “so rare you always have to pay 10 times release price” rare. The 2013 releases checked in at 9100 one ounce coins, which was more than the 4200 2012’s. The 2013 fractionals ranged from 3000 for the 1/2 ounce proof to 4200 of the 1/20 ounce proof. We will see what the 2014 numbers come in at- likely next year.
One of the complaints about the U.S. Mint has been the way that they release low mintage items (usually the complaints are by people who miss out on the releases). The Mexican Mint has avoided this criticism by being so capricious and arbitrary on their dates and mintages that any outrage is superseded by confusion and scrambling. The only other modern series equivalent is probably the Chinese silver panda- which have really high 1990’s prices- but even those have a different design every year. So from a collectors viewpoint- if you like high appreciation in price, the libertad proofs are on a run like Apple Stock, with each release year playing the role of keynote updates. No other modern non-rotating design coin has anywhere close to the appreciation in price that silver libertad proofs have.
The fact that all the 2014 proofs were released in one batch (previous years tended to dole out the box sets, the single issues, and the fractionals and larger sizes at different times) has the effect of flooding what promises to be another very limited market. One of the big hit surprises has been the new 7 coin proof set, (let’s call it “The Magnificent Seven”) which collects all of the silver proof coins except the kilo (which is technically matte anyway) into one beautiful set. The box and COA show a mintage of only 250 sets, and if you managed to get your hand on one, you are in elite company. Secondary prices have skyrocketed, and the sets have been selling for between $1100 and $2000.
What’s interesting about liberated proofs- a numismatic trend that we don’t see in any other modern sets, is that the box sets with COA’s sell for much higher prices than the single, or even third party 70 graded coins. In fact, the same coins that sell in a wooden box with COA tend to sell for only about 75% of their value when missing just the box and COA. This holds true for the past wooden box sets-a pattern that seems checkered on the older, sleeved proof sets. You just don’t see as much of a premium on those sleeved sets (which started in 1992)- it’s there, but not as much as those same coins in high third party graded holders. One possibility of this “wood rush” is a large section of wooden box libertad collectors. 2008 was the first year the wooden box sets were offered, with a mintage of only 1000. You can surmise by the premiums that there are more than 1000 wooden box set collectors (2012 and 2013 represented partial wooden box sets as well- partial versions of the 5 coin set or combos of burnished and proof coins- usually with a mintage of only 1000 or 1500). Those 5 coin wooden box collectors are likely driving the 7 coin sets up to such high prices. Here’s the math: only 25% as many of the 7 coin as 5 coin box sets exist. Will the 7 coin box become the “key” to the wooden box series? Will there be a rare KOA wood with COA set released in 2018 to commemorate the 10th year of wood boxes? Time will tell, but the Mexican Mint has shown itself to be very gimmick free in comparison with the packaging and designs of the other World Mints (notably the Royal Canadian, Perth, and even U.S Mint). The no-frills libertad release is perhaps most similar to the 2011 American Silver Eagle 25th anniversary sets, except instead of minting techniques, the bonus is the box and COA. The 1998 key proof coin (fetching between $3000-$6000 for the 1 ounce coin) seems to line up with the 1995W silver eagle in price.
Maybe the larger questions the come from the wooden box sets have to do with the future. We have certainly seen counterfeit coins on the market (notably a rash of Mongolian owl, hedgehog, wolverine, and ram counterfeits). Will we start to see counterfeit wood (perhaps made out of particle board)?