The wildly collectible and unpredictable Libertad series is living up to its name in 2013.
After experimenting with a 30th Anniversary Set in 2012 that contained no fractional proofs, the Mexican Mint brought back the popular 5 coin silver Libertad proof set, with a maximum mintage of 1000 pieces for the 1 oz, 1/2 ounce, 1/4, 1/10, and 1/20 ounce silver proof. The catch is: they released it in unprecedented fashion. All 1000 of the silver proof sets were shipped to European distributors only. This makes it very difficult for American (and Mexican) collectors to get it for their collections, but to balance that (or perhaps make it worse) the Mexican Mint created 2 brand new sets.
They debuted a new (mintage of 1000) 3 piece fractional silver proof set for sale in the U.S. only, with the 1 ounce, 1/2 ounce, and 1/4 ounce silver proof coins, and the nice wooden box with COA. Later this year, they will be debuting a new set with a low mintage of 600 available only in Mexico, of a 4 coin silver Libertad set, with the 1/2 and 1/4 ounce in brilliant uncirculated, and the 1/10 and 1/20 ounce in proof. With the 5 ounce proof and Kilo proof-like silver coins in the mix, 2013 will likely set the tone for future releases.
Having stopped all fractionals in 2012, it looks like the Mexican Mint is re-booting the series and trying to establish worldwide distribution paths to what it recognizes has become one of the most sought after releases of any mint. Of course, with all of these sets, the concern is that the total mintage for the year will be higher than 2012, but as the 2011 mintage silver proof numbers show, the market can withstand a very high number of silver proofs before the secondary pricing is affected.
Also, as we are talking about Libertads, the phrase “high mintage” is an oxymoron: there has never been a year where any of the offerings of silver proofs topped the 30,000 area- or in other contexts, the lowest proof of the United States Mint, still is higher than the highest proof of the Mexican Mint (that being the 1986 1 ounce proof). Nothing since that one year of proofs has topped the 10,000 mark. So to be clear, when we talk about higher mintages, what we really mean is: crazy low rare mintages, just a little less crazy low.
The full compliment of Gold BU and Proof Libertad fractionals will be available this year as well, with one caveat: they are going to be extremely hard to find.
The gold proof set in the iconic wooden box will have a maximum mintage of only 250, setting a new key to the gold series. It remains to be seen if the gold series will catch on the way the silver series has, as the gold proofs have only been consistently minted since 2005. The 2013 1/4 ounce gold proof will have a slightly higher mintage of 500, so there will be a few available outside of the sets for sale. The BU mintages are not yet set, but are confirmed to have the 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/10, and 1/20 ounce issues again.
Perhaps the hyper low proof mintage and reintroduction of BU fractionals to a worldwide collector base that has shown a hunger for collecting gold coins will spur the Libertad gold coins to start the long climb to catch up to the sizzle of their silver counterparts. With a mintage of only 250 sets, they certainly aren’t establishing many new fans. But by now, Libertad collectors should know what they have gotten themselves into with their attempts to tame these elusive, winged angels.