By Louis Golino for CoinWeek…
Libertad gold and silver coins from the oldest mint in North America, the Casa de Moneda in Mexico, have always appealed to buyers for a range of reasons. This includes their gorgeous obverse design depicting the bare-breasted winged Victoria statue that many consider the finest to appear on an ongoing bullion coin series; a much wider range of sizes in both proof and uncirculated finishes than most world mints produce; the mystique that surrounds the series which results almost each year in special sets and other surprises, and of course their incredibly low mintages that are more typically associated with commemoratives than with bullion coins.
Collectors of this series, the oldest bullion series in the world having begun in 1982, are well aware of the fact that these coins have some of the lowest mintages of any world bullion coin. And they also know that unlike most other mints that announce planned mintages when new issues are released or which published regular sales reports as the U.S. and Royal Canadian Mints do, Libertad mintages are usually only announced late in the year as a sort of Christmas present to those devoted to the series.
On December 2 Libertad fans got their wish when Pat Stovall of Lois and Don Bailey and Son sent me and then all his clients the 2014 Libertad mintages which come from the Banco de Mexico. This year their wishes were fulfilled even more so than in most years since because of the large number of low-mintage issues.
Throughout the year there were rumors that the 2014 mintages would be very low, and plenty of coin dealers used speculation about low mintages to drive sales. But now that the figures are actually available it can be confirmed that there are indeed some of the lowest mintages in many years in several categories, and premiums have already risen substantially for many of these coins.
In addition, the gold proof coins (1 ounce, ½ ounce, 1/10th ounce, and 1/20th ounce) all hit a new low of just 250 coins, except the ¼ ounce at 350. The BU gold coin mintages were certainly extremely low compared to what other world mints issue, but there were no new lows there.
For the silver coins the situation is especially interesting. The popular 1 ounce coin, which is the one most people are familiar with, came in at 429,200, or the lowest in that segment of the series since 2007, when 200,000 coins were issued. The last year a number comparable to this year’s was minted was 2004, when 450,000 were minted. In the years since 2007 mintages have ranged from 746,000 to 1.2 million, which helps put the 2014 number in context.
I would not expect an immediate increase in premiums, especially since some dealers still have supplies of the 2014 coins, which usually sell for about $4-5 over spot value. But I also noticed many major sellers ran specials on this coin recently and ran out of their allocations during the sale periods. The 2004 coin sells for about $50, and with time I think the 2014 coin will reach a similar premium. It is certainly a great deal at current prices.
The larger silver coins, 2 oz and 5 oz at 9,000 and 6,400 respectively, similarly are not the lowest in the series, but are the lowest since 2007. A similar pattern exists in the proof 2 oz and 5 oz coins which had tiny mintages of 750 and 800 and are the lowest since 2007 when they were each 500. These two coins are the ones where I expect to see the largest price appreciation of the 2014 silver issues.
Premiums are really moving on these coins now that it is known how few are out there, especially since the special 7-piece proof set I covered previously has 250 of each of those coins. The fact that there are only 500 2 ounce proofs apart from the set explains why it has risen in the past week from about $130 to $200 raw, and graded 70’s have sold for over $400. The 5 oz proof coins (550 outside of the sets) could be had for $300 a week ago, and now they are $400 and of course much more for 70’s.
With the other proof coins the numbers this year are larger, but are the lowest since about 2001. The smaller-size silver proofs are made in larger numbers than their larger coins.
Low-mintage Libertads continue to become more popular each year, and those who salt them away for the long-term are likely to continue to be rewarded as the series becomes more widely collected.
For mintages of previous coins in the Libertad series, see this page from Pat Stovall’s company site:
2014 Libertad Mintages
|1Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||429,200|
|1Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||4,700|
|1/2Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||23,000|
|1/4Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||6,950|
|1/10Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||6,350|
|1/20Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||5,700|
|1/2Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||1,750|
|1/4Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||1,700|
|1/10Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||1,950|
|1/20Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||1,850|
|5 Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||6,400|
|2 Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Bullion||2014||9,000|
|5 Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||800|
|2 Oz. Silver Libertad 2014||Silver||Proof||2014||750|
|1 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Bullion||2014||4,050|
|1/2 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Bullion||2014||1000|
|1/4 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Bullion||2014||1000|
|1/10 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Bullion||2014||2450|
|1/20 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Bullion||2014||1050|
|1 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Proof||2014||250|
|1/2 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Proof||2014||250|
|1/4 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Proof||2014||350|
|1/10 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Proof||2014||250|
|1/20 Oz. Gold Libertad 2014||Gold||Proof||2014||250|
2015 Ghana Lunar Skulls
The Chinese Lunar calendar-themed coins have emerged as the largest and perhaps most diverse coin program in the world in recent years. But for the modern world coin collector that results in such a dizzying range of coins, sometimes even from one country, that it is hard to decide which ones are worth getting. In addition, some animals seem to result in more attractive art work than others. The 2015 year of the goat coins have been more challenging in this regard but have already been rendered very nicely in Perth’s bullion and collector coins, the 5 oz gilded Niue issue made by Pamp in Switzerland with a mintage of 500, and others.
But now there is a totally original take on the Lunar theme from the country of Ghana with the first coin in a new series of a more macabre nature that depicts the skulls of the animal. The 2015 Lunar Skulls goat issue is being minted by an e-Bay dealer named Son-Montuno, who specializes in modern world coins, who decided to establish his own private mint to produce this series. It will be a 12-coin series, and first year releases are often the most sought after.
The skull coins, which will be minted in high relief, and issued in low mintages in BU (2,000 coins) and especially in proof (just 500 coins), have really struck a chord with many collectors, even though they will only be issued in January, which means buyers have only line art drawings to go by for now.
The coins were produced with the assistance of SMmint.com and were designed by U.S. tattoo artist, Kiana Roo, whose signature appears on each coin. Each coin is also individually numbered on the rim, and the number on the certificate of authenticity will match that on the coin. This is a feature many collectors find appealing.
It is hard to say exactly why these coins have become popular so quickly, but it is not terribly surprising given the success of the Zombucks and similar limited edition rounds sold by Provident Metals, which sell for solid premiums over the issue prices. At the recent Whitman Expo in Baltimore, Maryland I ran into a dealer who said she was particularly taken with the Feast dollar, a macabre version of the famous Peace dollar. Zombucks is billed as “the currency of the apocalypse” by Provident.
Son-Montuno decided to split the mintage of these coins with his business partner. Son-Montuno allocated only 10 coins per dealer
with his half of the mintage, with the other half going to his business partner. Each dealer who buys coins to sell retail will only receive 10 coins in most cases. This method of distribution is one of the reasons prices for the coins in proof have taken off so quickly, though auction results have also been uneven.
Pre-orders for the proofs began on November 22 at $89, there were many sales in the $150 range, and by the 24th they reached $199. Then auction prices started going much higher reaching $596 on the 30th. But on December 6 someone got a proof for only $255, still a healthy increase from the initial price, but a fraction of more recent sales.
From what I have read and heard from other collectors it is clear that some buyers quickly realized the proof coins represented a good value at $89-$150 and appear to have purchased extras to sell at a profit. It remains to be seen whether by January the proof coins will still bring $600-700, but $300 seems like a reasonable prediction. A lot will depend on how the coins look in person, and on the extent to which buyers decide to sell their extra coins, or keep them to see how prices develop.
Update: Article updated to reflect the current address for the producer, to reflect that the Ghana coin is numbered on the rim, not the edge, and to correct the spelling of “Son-Montuno”.