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2016-S proof cent already in change

Does the San Francisco Mint have an internal security problem, or did someone buy or receive a 2016 Birth or Happy Birthday set from the U.S. Mint and then spend the coins in it?

An image of the 2016-S proof Lincoln cent that was found at a bank in

An image of the 2016-S proof Lincoln cent that was found at a bank in Hendersonville, N.C.

Those two questions came to mind after I received a cryptic email on Friday in response to the Numismatic News enewsletter poll question as to whether readers were looking for 2016 coins in their change.

The email read:

“I have already found 2016 and 2016-S for my collection, just need 2016-D.”

I had to write the sender to find out more.

He replied, “I got 2016 cent from my credit union, Telco, Hendersonville, N.C.”

There was still no use of the word proof. However, less than 10 minutes later an image of a proof 2016-S cent popped into my email inbox.

I asked the sender if he had purchased a set from the Mint.

He said, “The teller at my credit union found it in a roll of new pennies. The how or why it got there is the big question?? I don’t know, but very grateful for her due diligence.”

The new sets with proof coins in them were just released by the Mint on Jan. 6.

To have someone report finding a 2016-S proof cent in circulation is unusual.

It is possible that someone who does not appreciate numismatic gifts simply took the coins and spent them.

But for this to happen in a window of time slightly longer than two weeks before it reached my desk is highly unusual and definitely worth mentioning.

I suppose it is also possible that a set sent to the credit union for some reason was damaged after the institution received it and then other employees unknown to the customer simply recovered what value they could from the set and put the coins to use.

Unless I get other reports of finds of 2016 proof coins in change, I will have to chalk it up as one of those strange things that happen in our hobby life from time to time.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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