As the calendar year of 2016 comes to an end, Libertad collectors far and wide huddle together for that day of celebration: Libertad mintage release day! The last year has seen a number of positive trends for Libertad collectors, including the rise of graded bullion Mint State Libertads, the astronomical value (and scarcity) of Proof 70 coins, and the continued rise of Libertad prices across the board. The 2016 numbers are out, and here are the Mint State and Proof figures.
Among MS silver bullion Libertads, 1,437,500 one-ounce coins were minted this year, representing the highest number since 1992, incidentally also an election year. Demand for silver in the face of a presidential change remained constant all year; but what changed this year? Libertads are always very popular and undersold. Early information suggests that the Mexican Mint has prepared and streamlined their silver production in anticipation of demand better than in past years. In other bullion figures, the fractional bullion coins reached their highest mintages since 2002 in the half-ounce size (30,900), while the quarter-ounce mintage was nearly the same as last year (17,700 versus 17,900), and the 1/10-ounce (24,400) and 1/20-ounce (22,900) mintages were at their 2000–2004 levels. One thing to keep an eye on is the recent trend, really just in the last year, of people scooping up fractional bullion Libertads and getting them graded. Highly graded Libertads trade many times over their already significant premiums. There are so few out there to begin with, and the prestige of having the highest-graded coin ever minted is not lost on collectors.
The silver Proof Libertad, popular among collectors who feel that it is the most beautiful silver coin in the world, has a growing base. This helps explain the number of Proof coins minted this year: The 1/20-ounce Proof had a mintage of 12,550—the highest in history. It would be deflating to some collectors if the number weren’t 12,550, or roughly a quarter the population of a college football game. The 1/10-ounce silver proof (12,650) is also the highest, as is the 1/4-ounce (9550) and the 1/2-ounce (13,150). The 1-ounce silver Proof is also at its highest mintage in history: 13,250. The 5-ounce Proof (11,400) and 2 -ounce Proof (17,600) are not at their highest mintages, but are in the high-middle end of those offerings, and the aftermarket reflects that.
These mintage levels call to mind the 2008–2011 years of around 10,000 mintages, so it’s likely best to view 2016 from within that lens. What happened from the mini-bubble was the release of the 2012 (4,200) mintage with no fractionals. Older Libertad silver Proofs remain robust, ranging from hundred to thousands of dollars over issue price. There have been some eBay listings in the tens of thousands for rare Proof 70 silver coins in the 1-ounce, 2-ounce, and 5-ounce varieties. The market is just so rare, that you can name your price. As the major price guides struggle to capture this skyrocketing market, collectors are perfectly content to keep these beauties in their portfolios. It is nearly impossible to find a complete set of bullion Libertads anywhere, and when you do, they trend around $3,000 and up. Proof complete sets are unheard of.
The other major release of the year was the Reverse Proof Libertad, produced in conjunction with APMEX for a limited two-coin release mintage of 1,000. The total listed numbers for Reverse Proof silver Libertad 1-ounce coins is 1,500 for the year, so it seems that the Mexican Mint will match last year’s mintage of 500 three-coin silver Proof, silver bullion, and Reverse Proof coins that they issued to bank workers only. The total mintage of 1,500 makes the Reverse Proof a special coin, and although slightly less popular than last year’s initial offering, it joins the 7 Coin Magnificent Seven set and the wooden boxed silver Proof mintage 1,000 sets as the jewels in the 2016 Libertad offerings.
Gold Libertad markets are difficult to predict, but the big news in the gold Proof offerings is that the mintages were 2,100 across the board. While still minuscule, the figure trounces the tiny 2013 and 2014 offerings (300-600 and 250-350) and jumps last year’s 500 mintage significantly. Gold Proof collectors can celebrate the possibility that the 2013-2014-2015 years will be the “Holy Trinity” of gold, as 1998-1999-2000 are for silver Proof collectors.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! May all of your turkeys be stuffed with Libertads. ❑