I feel like I was just brought back to reality. Sure, there was a three-day Presidents Day weekend to shorten this week, but that isn’t what makes me feel like I have just come out of a fog.
What got me going was an email from longtime reader Bill Mills in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He reported that he received his first 2012 Lincoln cent Feb. 20.
After I read the email, I reflexively looked at the calendar on the wall and counted weeks. This find occurred in the eighth week of the year.
Boy, we are running late.
What’s going on?
I have for many years maintained that when new coins find their way into reader hands is an indication of just how weak or strong the economy is.
Early appearance of new annual coinage means the economy is really humming along and banks are absorbing the supply as fast as the U.S. Mint can ship it to the Federal Reserve System. Later appearances of new dates in change mean the economy is not doing as well.
What am I to make of this report?
It really is kind of late. In boom years I would get reports of new cents within a few days of the start of the year. Business conditions in more typical years push the reports toward the end of January.
Does this first report of a find of a 2012 cent in the eighth week of the new year mean that economic conditions are not as good as recent government reports have indicated?
Could be. It’s a legitimate conclusion, but with from just one bit of information, it does not feel very solid.
I had to go shopping this past weekend. I even had made a mental note that I was jostled by more than the usual number of people. That can mean either prosperity, or a good winter weather day when Wisconsinites make a dash for the stores while they can.
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I hesitate to draw a conclusion from just one report. Are the 2012 cents truly late in entering circulation, or have we become more indifferent to what we hold in our hands? Could we collectors be mentally distancing ourselves from the cent and what seems like its inevitable decline and possible end?
That would be logical with all the talk about the cent’s high cost and the necessity of finding a new alloy or even abolishing it. Hobbyists might be shifting their attention elsewhere. I hope not. Recent circulation finds reports show at least some collectors are still focused on their change as they always have been.
So please help me out. Have you spotted any 2012 dated coins yet? The January production report in last week’s paper shows more than 468 million 2012 cents have been struck, so there is no reason from this standpoint why 2012 cents should not already be making its way into someone’s hands.
Email me a report of what you are seeing in your change at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t seen any 2012 coins yet, report that as well. It will be good to hear from you.