The Mint gives up a Friday afternoon surprise

?In the early afternoon of Jan. 13, a few hours after we had completed the Jan. 30 issue of Coin World Weekly and sent it to the printer, I visited some of the online collector forums that I monitor for news tips and to keep abreast of the public mood of collectors. One of the conversations at the Professional Coin Grading Service U.S. Coins Forum caught my eye, saying something along the lines of “2017 coins found in circulation.” I scrolled down and looked at one of the first images displayed. Then I muttered a few words you won’t see in the pages of Coin World. That’s because, had I read the post four or five hours earlier, I would have torn up Page 1 even though it was mostly done since the day before.

A collector had posted a picture of one of this year’s Lincoln cents — one struck at the Philadelphia Mint and bearing that facility’s P Mint mark. While at first I was skeptical, especially when someone quickly posted some obviously photo-manipulated images of similar pieces with different dates, the original poster said that the image was genuine.

I summoned Paul Gilkes, our senior editor for U.S. coins whose beat includes the U.S. Mint, and showed him the image, asking if he saw anything unusual. He immediately saw the Mint mark and returned to his desk to call his contacts in the Mint’s corporate communications department. A spokesman quickly confirmed that Lincoln cents struck in 2017 at the Philadelphia Mint do indeed bear a P Mint mark, as a one-year nod to the Mint’s 225th anniversary, and that the Mint had kept this a secret.

Paul hastily wrote the news coverage and we posted it to our website and Facebook page. In the “old days,” before we had an online presence, we would have had to wait till the next print issue to inform our readers of the change for 2017. Even now, those of our readers who rely strictly on our print issues will see the news for the first time in this issue, more than a week after we published the news online.

The Mint’s decision should increase interest in what is normally a rather routine issue. I suspect that in the weeks ahead, you’ll see dealers offering the 2017-P Lincoln cents for those of our readers who can’t find them in circulation. 

We want to thank the Mint for the surprise. What’s next?