Libertad (Freedom) has been minted by the Mexican Mint “Casa de Moneda de Mexico” since 1981. After the South
African Krugerrand and the Canadian Maple Leaf, the
Mexican Libertad was the third modern bullion coin on sale at world markets.
The gold coin, which is also known as “Onza”,
is now one of the world’s top-selling coins. From 1981 to 1991 the
Libertad had a purity of 90% (.900). As of 1991 the Mexican Mint increased
the purity to 99.9 percent (.999).
to the minted coins from other countries there is no nominal value displayed on
the Mexican Libertad. The value is measured in terms of its weight. However,
the nominal value can be calculated by converting the Libertad´s daily
floating gold value into the country’s currency, the peso. The Libertad
is legal tender in Mexico. During its first edition from 1981 to 1989 the
coin was produced in three different weights: one ounce, 1/2 an ounce, and a
1/4 ounce. Each of these coins has a gold purity of 90%. The remaining 10%
consists of silver. The total weight of a one-ounce coin is 34.5 grams.
Between 1989 and 1991, production of the Libertad was halted, however. After
Mexico’s Mint restarted minting in 1991, two more weights, a 1/10 ounce
as well as a 1/20 ounce, were added. As of today, the gold coin is minted in
five different weights. Starting in 1991, the gold coin´s purity was
increased to 99.9 (.999). The total weight of the one-ounce coin came down to
coin´s front side shows Mexico´s winged goddess Victory enthroned
on the Mexican Independence Column, which symbolises
the country breaking free from Spanish colonial rule in 1821. Victory is
bordered on each side by the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl
and Popocatépetl. The weight and purity of
the coin, as well as its minting year are displayed in the shape of an arc at
the coin´s top. This design applies to coins minted from 1991, although
the motif was again altered slightly in 1996; this alteration mainly
concerned the written information on the coin. In its first edition (1981 to
1989) the front side also showed the winged Victory Libertad, but not standing
on the Mexican Independence Victory Column.
On the back
of the coins Mexico’s coat of arms is displayed, which shows an eagle
bringing down a snake. The inscription at the top of the coat of arms reads
“Estados Unidos Mexicanos” (United States of Mexico). Ten small
coats of arms are circularly arranged around the eagle, but these are only
found on the one-ounce coin. It is important to distinguish between the
collector´s edition – so called Proof Sets – and bullion
coin editions. The latter form the bulk of sales.
the Mexican Libertad has also been issued as a silver coin. In contrast to
the gold coin, the silver version is not accepted as legal tender in Mexico.
Hugo Salinas Price, president of the Asociación
Cívica Mexicana Pro Plata (Mexican Civic
Association Pro Silver) in Mexico City, has been fighting in favour of the reintroduction of silver as a nationally
accepted means of payment for years. In 1979 the Mexican parliament passed
the legislative proposal of former Mexican president José López Portillo to re-establish the silver Libertad
as legal tender. The new law, however, had a constructional flaw. Portillo's
law worked on the principle that every Libertad silver ounce could be
exchanged at the current market value by the central bank, Banco de Mexico, into paper currency. For two years the
Mexican population used the silver Libertad as currency in its daily
transactions. In December 1981 the law was abolished. The constructional flaw
in accepting silver as an official Mexican currency was due to the lack of a
nominal, irreducible value that should have been featured on the coin. This
important clause was omitted from Portillo's law. Nowadays, the Asociación Cívica
Mexicana Pro Plata campaigns for the inclusion of this clause in a new legislative
proposal. Should Hugo Salinas Price's campaign be successful, the value of
each minted coin in circulation as currency would fluctuate according to the
current silver price and could be exchanged into paper money by the Banco de Mexico.
All data and quotes sourced from Reuters.
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