The U.S. Mint began checking its inventory of 2012 Birth sets March
29 after receiving customer reports the day before that an
undetermined number of sets already shipped to customers contained a
90 percent silver Proof 2012-S Kennedy half dollar instead of the
intended copper-nickel clad version.
U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said officials are investigating
the cause of the packaging error and will announce that information
once it becomes known. White said the Birth sets, introduced as a new
product by the Mint on March 13 at $19.95 each, are assembled by hand
at the San Francisco Mint.
White said, as of about 5 p.m. March 29, approximately 1,600 Birth
sets were checked at the U.S. Mint sales centers at U.S. Mint
headquarters and Union Station, both in Washington, D.C.; the
contracted sales center at the Denver Mint; and the order fulfillment
center in Plainfield, Ind., contracted through Pitney-Bowes Government Solutions.
All of the sets examined thus far contain the intended
copper-nickel clad Proof 2012-S Kennedy half dollar, according to White.
Additional inventory is scheduled for inspection, White said, and
inventory held by the Mint’s contracted vendor at the Philadelphia
Mint was to be inspected March 30. Inventory not yet shipped from the
San Francisco Mint to the order fulfillment center in Indiana was also
to be inspected for the packaging error.
White said Birth sets that have been inspected and contain the
appropriate copper-nickel clad Proof Kennedy half dollar will be
released into saleable inventory. White said there will be a delay in
the shipping of Birth sets.
The copper-nickel clad Proof 2012-S Kennedy half dollar is also to
be included in the 14-coin regular 2012-S Proof set to be released May
7. The 90 percent silver Proof 2012-S Kennedy half dollar is to be
included in the 14-coin 2012-S Silver Proof set to be released by the
U.S. Mint June 4.
The Birth set is supposed to contain Proof 2012-S versions of the
cent through half dollar in their normal circulating compositions. The
coins are mounted in a folder with spaces for a personalized welcome
message, the baby’s statistics, a 3-inch by 4-inch photograph and a
lock of hair.
Kentucky dealer Al DiTucci from Timers Coins LLC said March 29
that of 40 Birth sets ordered on two different dates and already
received, 32 contain a silver Proof Kennedy half dollar instead of the
copper-nickel clad half dollar.
DiTucci said of 10 sets ordered March 17 and already received, all
10 contained the silver half dollar. From an order placed March 19 for
30 Birth sets, 22 of them contained the silver half dollar and eight
contained the copper-nickel clad half dollar.
DiTucci said all of the coins in the Birth set are housed in
two-piece hard plastic capsules, with the bottom half fixed into one
of five openings for the respective denomination, and the capsule’s
top half removable to extract each coin.
When he received his first 10 Birth sets, DiTucci said he first
noticed the difference in surface color and contrast between the
fields and the devices.
The half dollar in the sets appeared more brilliant, and Kennedy’s
portrait seemed frostier against the field when compared to a
copper-nickel clad Kennedy half dollar of another date. A
copper-nickel clad Proof coin is duller and more gray in appearance
than the brighter silver version.
DiTucci confirmed his suspicions of the silver composition when he
removed one of the half dollars and examined the reeded edge.
On the silver version, the edge is a consistent silver color,
while that of the copper-nickel clad version shows the copper color
from the sandwich composition.
The silver version is a homogenous alloy of 90 percent silver and
10 percent copper, while the copper-nickel clad version is composed of
outer homogenous layers of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel
bonded to a core of pure copper.
The 90 percent silver version contains 0.40 ounce of silver, which
alone is valued at $13 with silver at approximately $32.50 per troy
ounce, nearly the purchase price of the set.
DiTucci placed one of the silver Proof 2012-S Kennedy half dollars
he received in a Birth set to sell separately on eBay. The auction was
to end at 9:16 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time April 2. As of 7:45 a.m. EDT
March 30, the single Proof half dollar was bid up to $91, with 13 bids
placed by eight different bidders.
DiTucci hasn’t determined what he plans to do with the remaining
21 complete Birth sets with silver half dollars. ■