The Mexican Silver Libertad is one of the most diverse sovereign bullion coins programs in the world today. While many silver bullion coins are available in either a 1 oz weight, or 1 oz and other larger weights, the Mexican Libertad’s silver version is available in a variety of weights that range from the diminutive 1/20 oz coin to a larger 5 oz option.
Produced on an annual basis by the Mexican Mint, the Mexican Silver Libertad coin is actually available in a proof version, a proof-like 1 kilogram version, and the Brilliant Uncirculated, or BU, version of the coin.
The Brilliant Uncirculated condition of Mexican Silver Libertads from this version indicates a lack of any wear and tear on the coin’s surfaces. However, BU coins are not without their flaws. A BU coin can exhibit minor flaws such as breaks in the luster, spotted surfaces, or contact marks from the coining process. By in large though, these coins are suitable for collectors and investors because they were not struck for circulation and make the ideal option for numismatists.
The Brilliant Uncirculated version of the Mexican Silver Libertad has been the most consistent and diverse version of the coin available to investors and collectors. Originally introduced in 1982, these coins were struck only in a 1 oz version at first with much higher mintage volumes that currently produced by the Mexican Mint. The 1 oz version of the coin is subject to the demands of the public, with the mint working to strike the coins to match demand. As such, there have been massive fluctuations in the coin’s production.
When the coins were first introduced, mintage climbed steadily for nearly a decade. Debuting with a mintage of 1.05 million in 1982, the coins reached 2.017 million by 1985 and sustained mintage levels between 1.5 million and 2.5 million through 1992. However, a dip in the value of silver in the 1990s saw mintage crash to a low of 67,000 in 1998.
Recent years have seen the 1 oz BU Mexican Silver Libertad coins struck at higher levels, jumping as high as 1.65 million during the height of the Great Recession in 2009. The mintage history of the fractional-weight and full-weight coins has been much different though.
Introduced in 1991, the fractional-weight coins from the Mexican Mint include a 1/20 oz, 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, and ½ oz coin. The coins were first introduced with the same mintage range, all of them around 50,000 in total. Over the course of time as certain weights have proven more popular, mintage levels have changed. For example, in 1992 there were 295,783 1/20 oz BU Mexican Silver Libertads struck compared to just 104,000 of the ¼ oz coins.
The BU Mexican Silver Libertad program increased again in 1996 with the addition of a 2 oz and 5 oz variety. These coins originally had set mintages each year, though that has changed in recent years. Compared to other versions of the coin, production of these larger weights is much lower. As of 2015 though, mintage levels for these coins jumped equal to or higher than the fractional weights. For example, the 2015 2 oz BU Mexican Silver Libertad had a mintage of 20,100 compared to 19,900 1/10 oz coins, the highest among the fractional weights.
The Mexican Silver Libertad may have been introduced in 1982, but its history dates back to 1921 and the nation’s celebration of its independence from Spain. In 1821, the people of Mexico started an armed revolt against colonial rulers from Spain. After an eight-year war, the Mexican Army emerged victorious. A century later, the nation of Mexico marked 100 years of independence with celebrations, construction of a statue of Winged Victory in Mexico City, and the striking of a gold Centenario coin.
On the obverse side of the original Centenario coin, the central design feature was that of Winged Victory. Also known as the Angel of Independence, she represented the successful struggle of the Mexican people to free themselves from Spanish rule. In her right hand, she holds aloft a wreath crown. In her left hand, the broken chains of servitude. In the background, the volcanic peaks of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl are visible.
Engravings on this side of the coin include the face value of 50 Pesos, as well as the centennial mark of 1821-1921, and the coin’s weight, purity, and metal content. The reverse features the image of the Mexican coat of arms, which depicts a golden eagle in battle with a serpent atop a cactus perch.
These coins were produced by the Mexican Mint from 1921 to 1931, with production resuming from 1943 to 1947. Beginning in 1949, the mint struck reproduction versions with a mint mark of 1947. These coins remained in production through 1972. Although Centenario coins were issued a face value, they were not considered legal tender and not available for use as official currency.
The Mexican Mint now uses these same images on the modern Mexican Silver Libertad, but applies them to different faces of the coin. The national coat of arms is found on the obverse of all versions of the Silver Libertad, while Winged Victory is found on the reverse face of the coins.
The bullion coins available in the Mexican Silver Libertad collection have gone through two design iterations during the history of the collection. The adjustment was not one of wholesale change, but rather of focused adjustment. From 1982 to 1999, the obverse field had the same design, before changing to a new design element for the 1 oz, 2 oz, 5 oz, and 1 kilo coins starting in 2002. Similarly, the 1982-1995 reverse field features a design element that was later altered starting in 1996 and continuing on to this day.
In both cases, the Mexican Silver Libertad coins featured the obverse and reverse designs from the 1921 gold Centenario when the former debuted in 1982. On the obverse of the coins was the modern coat of arms for Mexico, a seal that features a Mexican golden eagle battling to defeat and devour a rattlesnake from its perch on a prickly pear cactus. The design included the words “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” above the eagle symbol, and a wreath of oak and laurel below the cactus branch. In 2000, this design element was shrunk slightly and a rim design of 10 historic versions of the seal joined the obverse design element. This was applied only to the 1 oz, 2 oz, 5 oz, and 1 kilo silver coins as the fractional-ounce coins were determined to have too small a surface area to adequately accommodate the 10-seal element.
As for the reverse of the Mexican Silver Libertads, the original image of Winged Victory from the Centenario was first used through 1995. This design captured Victory as the prominent element in the foreground in front-facing relief. In the background, you could see the volcanic peaks of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. In 1996, the element was changed to place less focus directly on Winged Victory, giving more design field for the mountains in the background. Additionally, Winged Victory was now depicted from a three-quarter side profile view instead.
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