US Coins

Mint checks inventory of Birth sets for mispackaged

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. ¦

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