The United States Mint is already in production at the San Francisco Mint striking Proof coins dated 2017, but the coins will not officially be released until after Jan. 1. Circulating coin production can also begin in the calendar year preceding the date of issue struck on the coin, but can’t be released until the designated year.
Production of precious metals bullion coins like the American Eagle and American Buffalo coins are often struck in the last month of the calendar year before the year of issue so coins are on hand for shipment once orders are placed in January.
However, orders placed in January 2017 for such bullion coins will be filled first with 2016-dated still remaining in inventory before 2017 will be released.
A question was raised about the 19 ceremonial strikes in November at the Philadelphia Mint of Proof 2017-P Lions Clubs International Century of Service silver dollars and when the dignitaries who struck them would be able to buy the example they struck.
The answer: January 2017 at the earliest, since that is when the program is congressionally legislated to begin.
In the fall of 2014, Proof 2015 U.S. Marshals Service $5 gold half eagles, silver dollars and copper nickel clad half dollars were sold to employees during a special ceremony after which they received examples of the coins before their scheduled release. In this case, the enabling legislation permitted the sale and early release.
If one should come across a coin released in a calendar year other than that designated on the coin, in this case, a 2017 coin in 2016, it’s an anomaly, not the norm.