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Mexican Libertad is a Wise Choice for Silver Coin Collectors

Mexican Silver Coins

By Al Doyle for CoinWeek …..

Need something a bit different and artistic to satisfy your silver fix? Look no further than Mexico.

Currently one of three nations with silver production of more than 100 million ounces annually, Mexico has a long history of silver coinage. Much of the money in circulation in America from the 1700s to 1857 and beyond consisted of Mexican pieces ranging from the dinky 1/2 real (valued at 6 1/4 cents) to the renowned 8 reales. According to legend, this was the coin that George Washington supposedly threw across the Delaware River.

The Mexican Libertad Silver Coin is Overlooked and Underrated

The Casa de Moneda (Mexico City Mint) still strikes a variety of silver pieces. Unlike the U.S. and Canada, Mexico’s Libertad silver bullion issues range from 1/20 ounce to 5 ounces. The one-ounce Libertad is the cornerstone piece of modern Mexican silver, and it’s a well-known alternative to Eagles and Maple Leafs.

Bland-looking Onzas marked Mexico’s entry into modern silver bullion coinage in 1980. The switch to the much more eye-appealing Angel design (which comes from the famed statue at the intersection of Reforma and Insurgentes in Mexico City) was made in 1982. The reverse is also worthy of praise, as it features a nicely detailed rendition of the national emblem.

As with any other series, the collector who wants to build a complete set of Libertads will need to hunt down some lower-mintage dates. That list includes the 1997 (100,000 struck), 1998 (67,000), 1999 (95,000) and 2007 (200,000). There’s another challenge for the person who likes one-ounce Mexican silver.

Despite having a head start as compared to the silver Eagle and Maple Leaf, the Libertad lags well behind those market leaders. The Mexican product’s second-tier status can be blamed on lethargic marketing efforts, and it means the coins won’t be found in every local shop. Internet auction site eBay and larger shows are good sources for missing and scarce dates.

Fractional Libertads are Low Mintage Silver

Looking for a modern numismatic challenge? Check out fractional Libertad silver. Pick out the 1/20, 1/10, 1/4 /or 1/2-ounce series, and you’ll find that putting together complete sets of recent series isn’t always a slam dunk.

Mintages are one indicator of the elusiveness of certain dates. Just 6,400 1/20 onza silver Libertads were struck in 1998, and the mintage crept up to 8,001 in 1999. If that sounds low, take a look at figures for these years.

2002: 2,800
2003: 4,000
2004: 2,700
2005: 2,600
2007: 4,000
2008: 3,300

Statistics for the 1998 and 1999-dated 1/10, 1/4 and 1/2-ounce silver Libertads are virtually identical to the 1/20-ounce version. As for the 21st century, just 9,277 business strike 1/10-ounce silver Libertads carry a 2005 date. That number plunged to 3,500 in 2007 before rising to a still-modest 10,000 in 2008 and 2009. It’s a similar situation for the 1/2 ounce Libertads of 2005 to 2009. Five-piece silver Libertad proof sets have been issued annually, and single pieces are available on eBay as well as from world coin specialists.

Mexican Silver Commemoratives Worth Looking at

The 1968 Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City, and a 25-peso commemorative has become a bullion option for hard-money types. More than 27 million pieces were struck, so this isn’t a rare item except in the highest reaches of the grading scale. The .720 fine coin contains .5209 ounce of silver, and varieties exist.

A 1972-dated coin of the same fineness and weight as the Olympic commem features a portrait of Mexican national hero Benito Juarez. Exactly 2 million were struck, and it sells for modest premiums over spot.

The .720 alloy dates back to 1919 when a new 50-centavo piece debuted. Silver pesos of the same design and composition followed a year later. Both coins were issued until 1945, and the fineness was stamped near the top of the obverse. Circulated specimens sometimes sell for close to melt. 1935-dated 50 centavos were minted on .420 fine planchets.

If you need a break from 90 percent and circulated dollars or want some variety in your silver holdings, take a numismatic trip to Mexico. You won’t be disappointed.

Al Doyle
Al Doyle
Al Doyle has written about coins for several different publishers, including the columns "$100 and Under" (2013- ) and "Budget Minded" (2022- ) for The Numismatist. Al has also written for the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

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  1. I just completed and own the #1 NGC registry set for the 1oz BU strikes. Aside from the low mintages there are a few varieties worth noting. The 1991 type 1 and more rare the 1991 type 2 [8 dots], the 1987 double die, the 1999 mule or rev of 2000 [ 2 known] and i discovered the very first proof like BU 1oz that was graded as a 1990 MS67 PL. Currently I have two other proof like libertads i submitted for grading as well as an unknown variety for a 1982 coin i discovered that has 9 dots on the cactus pad and is also a proof like BU strike. Very undervalued series.

  2. I’ve been searching for Mexican silver for a little over ten years now. They are my favorite. Of all of them, I really like the 1947-1948 5 pesos. I was fortunate to get a number of them that still have a white BU luster shine for about $9 when one could get Mexican silver at a very good discount. Those days, however are gone.


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