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The Coin Analyst – Libertad Proof Sets, Interview With American Buffalo High Relief Coin Designer

By Louis Golino for CoinWeek …..

7-Piece Libertad Proof Sets Released

Last month, I discussed the extensive delays at the Mexican Mint (Casa de Moneda) with respect to production of the Libertad proof coins and sets. The much-anticipated 7-coin proof set in a wooden box with a numbered certificate of authenticity has finally started shipping. I received my set last week, and I am very pleased with it. It is by far the nicest proof set I have ever seen. With a silver weight of almost nine ounces it is also the heaviest. And the boxes are thin so the set does not take up a lot of space like some world proof sets do.

Only 250 of these sets were issued, but each coin was also made for individual sale. However, none of the individual one, two, and five-ounce proof coins has been released yet. They are expected to be available in the coming weeks, although they were originally scheduled to be issued several months ago.

Mintages will not be available until later in the year, but it is widely believed the 2014 coins will have among the lowest mintages in the Libertad proof series.  Buyers and dealers who pre-ordered the proof coins and sets have in many cases had their allocations reduced due to the small number of coins available.

Pat Stovall of Lois and Don Bailey and Son Numismatic Services added: “The 2014 proof coins will have a similar mintage to that of the 2013 coins. Second, the 2014 coins will be tougher to obtain due to a couple factors: 1.) high pent-up demand due to late release and 2.) lower silver prices. This is causing dealers to purchase as many coins as they can, which led the Casa de Moneda to have to allocate coins for all dealers. For example, every proof coin produced for 2014 was allocated to the dealer network, and this was pre-sold, as each dealer took their full allotment. This is also occurring for the BU coins to a large extent.”

The proof sets have been issued in wooden boxes since 2008, but none were released in 2012. The 7-piece sets for 2014 are the first to include all denominations of Libertad proof coins and have by far the lowest mintage of the wooden boxed sets.

Typically the individual proof coins can be purchased for less than the cost of the sets. The marketplace tends to place a considerable premium on the wooden boxed sets over the value of the individual coins. In addition, sets with low-numbered certificates, such as the one I received of the 2014 set, also tend to be valued higher than sets with higher numbers. There is no inherent reason why that should be the case, but that is how they are valued in the market.

Prices on the secondary market for these sets are rising very quickly.  They can only be purchased on e-Bay from buyers who bought them from either Lois and Don Bailey and Son Numismatic Services* (www.mexicancoinbroker.com) or Choice Bullion (www.choicebullion.com), which both limited buyers to one set at an issue price of about $500.  On October 10 the first set sold on e-Bay went for $1,500, and the next went for $1,030 the following day. All but one of the current listings are at fixed prices of between $1250 and $1650.

louisgolino101614featureThere are several interesting aspects to these sets apart from the beautiful coins and presentation. One is that some people have questioned whether they are actual official products of the Casa de Moneda, or if they are aftermarket sets put together by Lois and Don Baily and Sons, one of a handful of principal distributors of coins from Mexico that works closely with the mint. In the blogosphere some collectors have suggested the sets are somehow less desirable because they were produced as a result of a cooperative effort between this company and the mint. But the fact is that this background does not change the fact that they are indeed official sets that come with certificates of authenticity. And prices paid on the aftermarket confirm that there is great demand for the sets.

Finally, another intriguing aspect to the 7-coin sets is that there are two versions. The coins and certificates are the same in both cases, but some have the two and five-ounce proofs on the top row, and the other coins arranged on the bottom row. A second type, which is what I received, has the one, two, and five-ounce coins on the top, and the smaller coins on the bottom. I do not know how many were made of each type, and do not expect there to be a difference in their value. But when it comes to Libertad coins almost anything is possible.

*Lois and Don Bailey are leading U.S. experts on Mexican coinage, and are the authors of a new book from Whitman that will span several volumes.  The first is the Whitman Encyclopedia of Mexican Money, which I will be discussing in a forthcoming article.

Interview with Michael Glass, designer of the 2014 Tuvalu American Buffalo High Relief Silver Proof Coin

In late June the Perth Mint (www.perthmint.com.au) released the 2014 Tuvalu American Buffalo High Relief one ounce 99.9% silver proof coin. It has a mintage of 5,000 pieces, and is the second coin minted by Perth in this format on behalf of Tuvalu that depict iconic American animals. The first is the American Bald Eagle High Relief coin (https://coinweek.com/featured-news/coin-analyst-interview-ing-ing-jong-perth-mint-coin-designer/), which was a big success.  The new coin, which features a striking profile image of an American buffalo, was designed by Michael Glass, a coin and medal designer and graphic artist who works for SilverTowne (www.silvertowne.com). Mr. Glass was kind enough to share with CoinWeek information on his work on this project.

LG: “What inspired you to create the high relief Buffalo coin and to depict it in the way you did?”

MG: “The inspiration came from the project itself. The idea to mint a high relief buffalo was already set into motion before I was brought into the picture. At first I was invited on the coin design committee for my creative input. As the project advanced I saw an opportunity to offer my illustration skills. This idea of me creating the visual design for the coin was well received by SilverTowne.”

LG: “What is it about high relief coins that appealed to you?”

MG: “Coins and medallions tell a story or give us a glimpse into history. To me the high relief coin adds another level design that helps accentuate the narrative.”

LG: “What other coins and medals have you designed?”

MG: “I have created quite a few new pieces for the SilverTowne Mint. My most recent work can be found on the SilverTowne Mint bar that features the prospector and donkey (http://www.silvertowne.com/c-791-silvertowne-mint-silver-bars.aspx). I do have exciting new designs that I can talk more about at a later date. I have a great enthusiasm for designing coins.”

LG: “Could you tell me a little about your background in graphic design and art?”

MG: “I received a BFA in visual communications at Columbus College of Art and Design 1997. My focus was illustration and advertising design. Since then I have worked as a graphic artist and illustrator for various companies and trades. I’m also a practicing fine artist. I enjoy painting and drawing in the evenings and weekends in which I produce at least two paintings a month. Examples of my fine art can be found on my Facebook page.

I can only take a tiny bit of credit for the high relief buffalo design. I’m thankful to SIlverTowne for letting me work on such a fantastic project. I’m also very grateful to the good people at The Perth Mint for minting this coin. Behind every coin there is a team of people, each duty is equally important.”

A representative from SilverTowne, Ashton Campbell, also explained that 100% of the mintage of these coins is being sold by SilverTowne.

* * *

Louis Golino
Louis Golino
Louis Golino is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern U.S. and world coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern numismatic issues and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s (NLG) award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to Coin World, where he wrote a bimonthly feature and weekly blog, and The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s (ANA) monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum sponsored by Modern Coin Mart. He previously served as a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and as a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s when he began writing op-ed articles and news analyses.

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  1. Louis,

    Thank you for the article, as well as informing us early on when these were first made available through pre-order.
    I have my on and off seasons for buying coins and am presently not buying at the time, but was very tempted by the Libertad set early on. Choice Bullion would have been my dealer, but without knowing for certain the final mintage in singles I wasn’t comfortable with purchasing. I guess if I was in the frame of mind of resale, it looks like the early birds have ounce again gotten the worn, as it always will be.
    BTW, Casa de Moneda has produced some of the lowest mintage coins I have ever seen, for such low numbers I just can’t understand why they still seem to fly under the radar as they do!


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