For those of us struck by the polished-dies-of-the-libertad bug, 2015 has lived up to our usual standard of shock, excitement, bafflement, and mad internet scrambling. Keeping this beautiful collection current has always been an elusive goal, and now the Banco de Mexico has decided to accept their North American destiny and release a reverse Proof, leading libertad collectors worldwide to gasp and scramble.
For the past few years, the Mexican Mint has decided to release very popular and increasingly limited-to-region sets. Two- and three-coin sets—often limited to a mintage of 1000 and sold only in Europe, the U.S., or Mexico—hold high aftermarket value. Unique in numismatic premiums for boxed sets with Certificates of Authenticity, the libertad wooden sets sell for much higher than the same sets without the box and C.O.A.’s. Nowhere is this premium seen more than last year’s inaugural 7-coin silver proof set. The 2014 7-coin set (“The Magnificent Seven”) still sells for very high premiums, and 2015 continued the trend.
Only 250 sets were issued for 2015 as well and, although not in the $1200-$1500 range of 2014, the 2015’s have currently settled into the $900-$1100 range. Last year’s mintage for silver Proofs were low, with only 4700 for the 1 ounce silver Proof. 2015 also has the same delays and hiccups as in previous years. As of this writing, orders for 2015 silver Proofs still haven’t shipped, outside of those found in the 7-coin boxed sets.
Collectors are well aware that demand far outstrips supply. Couple that with higher premiums charged by the mint and 2015 has every ingredient of a banner year. The silver and gold Proofs this year are proving very tough to find. More information on the silver and gold Proofs will be provided as it becomes available, but word has it that they will be shipping in October.
Enough backstory: the reverse Proof. APMEX partnered with the Banco de Mexico to release a brand new coin, a reverse Proof libertad. Closely guarded, and released with little fanfare, these 500 limited sets each come in a sleek box, complete with magnets that hold the Certificate of Authenticity under the box containing a silver Proof and reverse Proof one ounce 2015 libertad.
Again, there were 500 of these sets made (equaling the number of the 1998 key libertad), but the total mintage of the 2015 reverse Proof coin is actually 1500. It turns out an additional 1000 sets were made for the 90th anniversary of the Banco de Mexico and sold internally to bank employees. Will any of these sets find their way into the marketplace? One would guess yes, but the answer, for now, is no. Even at 1500, the reverse Proof becomes tied with the 1997 issue for the third-lowest mintage of libertad one ounce coins.
Will North America’s oldest mint continue a reverse Proof set each year? The set debuted at $300, quickly jumped up to around $500 before the day was over and, with an auction ending in the mid-$600 range yesterday, the market is still fluid. As these remaining sets are snapped up, the sky is the limit, as with all things libertad.
APMEX also lists 30 graded 70 sets (70-PF and 70-PL for the reverse Proof) that are being held by APMEX for the current price of $1300. Some grumble that they may have cherry-picked the best coins from their sets (currently no graded 69 coins are available). Libertad Proof coins are notoriously difficult to obtain in high third party graded labels, owing in part to the rough dies of the Mexican Mint.
Considering the history of the Banco de Mexico’s minting of revolutionary coins—restrikes and double strikes being the norm—collectors don’t seem to hold libertad to the high standards of the U.S. Mint’s “70-or-bust” expectations. The libertad collector seems to be one base that has abstained to a surprising degree from third party grading, though that is changing as already skyrocketing premiums are finding new name-your-price heights as a result of the tiny mintages.
Be warned: the thrill of the hunt may have to take place in the increasing aftermarket for 2015’s most beautiful coins. Advance notes look like 2015 will be “one of those years,” so collectors would be wise to sock away whatever they can fit in their socks and take care not to lose their shoes in the process.