Unlike the American Silver Eagles, which begin sales in January, the Mexican Mint releases its Libertad bullion (BU) coins whenever they want and this year this means now!
The silver BU coins began their 2016 year by surprising everybody and shipping starting April 1. With silver prices up from a few months ago, it is likely good for business. The Winged Victory design on the liberated pays tribute to the solid bronze statue in Mexico City that is covered in 24k gold and weighs seven tons.
Produced since 1982, and with the current design since 1996, the Mexican Silver Libertad is among the most collected BU silver coins in the world. With 5, 2, and 1 ounce issues, as well as 1/2-, 1/4-, 1/10-, and 1/20-ounce denominations, the obverse features an eagle devouring a snake because it looks really, really cool, and for strong religious reasons varying in interpretation from the People of the Sun devouring the snake of wisdom to a European version that includes missionaries taking sides in the struggle between good and evil.
Last year, 903,000 of the 1 oz. silver bullion libertads were sold. By comparison, the 2015 American Silver Eagle sold 47 million. The 1982-present libertad Dansco album is sold out everywhere, and the complete BU set now sells for anywhere from $3,200 to $1,600, if you can find them. The 1998-2000 “Holy Trinity” is still very hard to come by, and the 1988, 1989, 2006, and 2007 have become nearly as difficult.
To libertad collectors, this is a time of adventure. The big unknown is of course the Proof coins, particularly the silver Proofs, which have undergone a massive boom especially in silver fractional Proofs — and most notably in the quarter ounce issue, which seems to have caught up to its American Washington-faced counterpart in popularity. Secondary markets, particularly on the graded silver Proofs, have jumped significantly. For those who started collecting early this is welcome news, and for eagle-eyed newbies it is a warning: start your snake-hunting early!
Gold update: the 2015 libertad gold BU figures (at the time near all-time lows) were revised, and the new figures are as follows: 1 oz., 4800; 1/2-oz., 1100; 1/4-oz., 1300; 1/10-oz., 4100; and 1/20-oz., 1300. Depending on your source, it appears the Mint finished the year by minting its allowable gold bullion coins even though they had previously listed them as sold out. Just another question mark, and something new libertad gold bullion collectors should be wary of: buying early. None of the Proof coins were affected.