2009 Mint Set Arrives – Tarnish Warning

The first 2009 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Sets have started to arrive. This year’s set went on sale relatively late in the year, beginning on October 1, 2009. The 2009 Mint Set contains a total of 36 different coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The 2009 Lincoln Cents have a special composition of 95% copper, 3% zinc, and 2% tin. I have received my own sets and have a few observations to share after having them in hand.

The sets came packaged similarly to the prior year, sealed in a brown cardboard box with a barcode and product code on the outside of the box. There are two separate holders inside, which contain coins from the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. The holders have the same width as the prior year, but are greater in height to accommodate an extra row of coins.

The outside design of the holders is the exact same city skyline image used for the 2008 Mint Set. This packaging was pictured on the US Mint’s website, but I was hoping that it was just a placeholder image or prototype. The repeat in packaging is a little disappointing. The US Mint has used a different design for the envelope or holder for the annual Mint Sets since 1984. I can identify most 1984-2008 Mint Sets by their package design or image, and always considered this to be a unique reflection of the times.

Inside the cardboard box was a message from the United States Mint about the 2009 Lincoln Cents printed on a small sheet of paper. The message reads the following:

A Message from the United States Mint
about the Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent

Coins Contains in your 2009 United

States Mint Uncircualted Coin Set

Given the metallic composition used for the 2009 uncirculated one-cent coins — the same used for the original 1909 Lincoln Cents — the alloy readily tarnishes. The United States Mint has used anti-tarnish treatments to minimize this impact on the appearance of the uncirculated coins. However, the alloy used for the one-cent coins in this year’s uncirculated coin set is expected to tarnish more over time than the previous years’ plated zinc one-cent coins.

The US Mint had delayed the release of 2009 Mint Set due to the unique tarnish issues created by the 95% copper Lincoln Cents. Even though they apparently resolved the tarnish issues over the short term, they are providing for the possibility that the tarnish issue may still present over a longer time period.

I examined a few 2009 Mint Sets and found the overall quality of the coins to be about the same as last year’s except for the Philadelphia Mint Lincoln Cents. Most of these were mark free with pristine surfaces. Even though satin finish coins are specially struck and handled, most tend to pick up at least some light contact marks or abrasions. These better quality 2009-P Lincoln Cents might have just been the luck of the draw and not indicative of the quality of the coins in all sets.

As might be expected, some people are already selling the satin finish 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents on eBay. Some have been sold in sets of eight coins, which seem to be selling for $7 to $15 per set. Others are putting together twelve coin sets of the 95% copper 2009 Lincoln Cents, which include the satin finish issues and the proof issues. Someone is also selling satin finish rolls of 50 coins, which would require the break up of 50 2009 Mint Sets to create. Overall, these don’t seem to be making as big a stir on the secondary market as when the 2009 Proof Lincoln Cents were first available. View the current eBay auctions here.

Facebook Twitter Email


  1. Anonymous says

    Do you see anything unusual on your Zachary Taylor's coin? Its like his head is rotated a little bit clockwise!

  2. Anonymous says

    I don't get why there is a tarnish issue. Copper cents were in mint and proof sets before 1982, and I don't recall any tarnish warnings for the cents in those sets. I have a 1961 proof set with an untarnished Lincoln cent. What's different about the 2009 Mint Set coins?

  3. Anonymous says

    My Taylor dollar has a huge crack in his head. I'm talking very obvious. I find it very hard to believe it passed inspection.. if there is inspections.

  4. Anonymous says

    Received my 10 sets October 12th. Undecided whether to open the thin cardboard covering the P & D cards to inspect the individual contents or leave all undisturbed. Being told you just bought something new and fresh that is destined to show future defects is disappointing to say the least.

    I wonder why that is. Often I see coin dealers advertising 1909 cents for sale that grade MS 65 and better without tarnish or defects and they are slabbed as such. Someone knew how to mint nearly perfect coins 100 years ago, but as technology has skyrocketed over the years, we are now faced with future garbage? What am I missing here? Nice to see they included a paper warning. They did the same thing a few years ago with that handmade Indian pouch and coin offering. Apparantly to house the coin and pouch together was a no-no, as a chemical was used in most tanning solutions on the leather pouches. This would "tarnish or destroy" the coin's surface over time. You were advised to store the coin and leather pouch separately, and away from other coins as well. Odd that other world mint's don't have the same problems. Wonder why.

  5. Bob M says

    It is a common misconception that the Lincoln cent has had the same composition from 1909-1982 but that is not true at all. Obviously, everyone knows about the 1943 steelies and 1944-46 recycled artillery shells were added to the mix(along with trace amounts of sulfur from gunpowder and explosive residue) but after WWII, the amount of tin was slowly reduced until it was removed altogether in 1962. Copper plus tin is bronze while copper plus zinc is brass so from 1962-1982, Lincoln cents were actually brass and not bronze. And yes, the early Lincolns did indeed have issues with the original bronze composition, laminations and "woodgrain toning" from poor alloy mixing was predominant. Today, that metal stock would be seen as inferior and the Mint did not want a repeat of those early problems. You can find plenty of nice red MS-65 VDBs out there but there are many more ugly ones than nice red ones. Now in 2009, some of them might turn but I would imagine that the majority will be fine over time.

  6. Anonymous says

    According to Wikipedia, after the shell casings were used up (1946) the composition was returned to the original copper/zinc/tin (bronze) content where it stayed until it was changed abruptly to copper/zinc (brass) in 1962. It was to have been changed to aluminum in in 1974 but that change was abandoned (after some 1.5 million coins were struck, almost all of which were later destroyed) for several reasons, one of which was the claim that aluminum pennies would not show up on X-rays should they be swallowed.

    Personnaly, I had really hoped that the mint would have decided to leave the new cents untreated. I would rather have the known quantity of the 1909-1942 composition than the unknown of whatever a surface treatment is going to do over the years to come. My pre-1962 mint sets contain beautiful red coins, even after being out of their original packaging for over five years.

  7. Anonymous says

    For some reason (I think we all know what it is) the Mint continually is in the throw-it-against-the-wall syndrome, then if there is a pushback or it doesn't stick, they routinely issue a weak explanation hoping you'll swallow their mediocrity. It's much the same as people you encounter every day in normal life situations, they go about in a semi-fog, screwing up and continually saying, "Oh, I'm sorry". I can't imagine having to go through life always apologizing for actions that never should happen in the first place.

    There is an overall lackluster element in society today, whether it be individuals, corporations,or obviously the Mint. Imagine the next 20 years? Thank God I won't have to deal with it. Apparantly there's no shame for stupidity and fourth rate products.

  8. Anonymous says

    Not to change the subject or anything.But are people aware of just how many 2009 silver eagles are out there.The mintage is at the highest levels because of bullion demands being so high.Yet people are actually paying high premiums for the ms70s.It is still unbelievable to me that an ms70 even exists in these coins.Yet obviously people are buying them up like they are in low supply.I'll never stop wondering about fools and their money out there.A PCGS First strike is selling for over 130.00 ROFLMAO.That is just one complete idiot to believe in this 2009 Silver Eagle scandal.The only people really laughing at all this is the grading companies and the people selling this junk.DON"T FALL FOR IT PEOPLE !!!!!!

  9. Anonymous says

    I bought one set. Overall the quality of the two mints was about the same with the pennies and quarters fairing best as rule. The rest were average with full bands on the dimes. Again it's the nicking and not so much a criticism of the strikes or satin finish that stands out to me.

    Jim L.

  10. Anonymous says

    I still ROTFLMAO at the entire "First Strike" nonsense anyway, regardless of what coin is in the slab or how much it sells for. "First Strike" has to be the biggest crock of crap ever to grace the face of the Earth. PCGS has no clue whatsoever if the coins it calls "First Strikes" were among the first or LAST coins struck from the dies. The last coins from the dies are shipped out just as early as the first coins from the dies! Talk about fools and their money being soon parted!

    I know, I know. "We have a right to collect whatever we want and pay however much for it we feel like!", cry the "First Strike" disciples. But, just don't say you weren't warned when people come to their senses someday and the coins you paid huge premiums for are no longer worth what you paid!

  11. vaughnster says

    I'm with Michael in his disappointment of the mint uncirculated set's packaging. The first change for the Lincoln cent in 50 years and we get pictures of the mint city's skyline, same as last year?? Oh, but to make up for that we get a tarnish warning!! Are the Chinese going to have to mint our coinage to get the proper quantity and quality coins? They own most of our debt anyway……

  12. Anonymous says

    Lets start talking about the 2009 gold eagle 1/2, 1/4, and 1/10. Do you all think that it will be a low, low, low mintage or just low???

    k, from ca.

  13. Anonymous says

    ROFLMAO at the 1910 PCGS ms67 notable auction with fools and their money.That coin should be regraded a R/B.And someone believes just because PCGS says it is an MS67RD.That it is what it is.That is notable for sure.At what kind of idiots there are out there.Who in their right mind would pay that much without being able to see the coin with a loupe in person is beyond my understanding.Great notable auction Micheal.LOL

  14. Michael says

    "Do you see anything unusual on your Zachary Taylor's coin? Its like his head is rotated a little bit clockwise!"

    My Zachary Taylor is centered properly. If the obverse/reverse orientation of yours is misaligned, it might be considered a rotated die error if the misalignment exceeds a certain tolerance.

  15. Anonymous says

    I'm looking forward to getting my mint sets in the near future.

    As for the first strike comments:


    First Strike and Bullion in the same slab or sentence seem mutually exclusive. I'd have to agree that people should really have figured this out by now.

    There was a lawsuit about FS a while back after which NGC started calling theirs "Early Releases" which seems more appropriate.

  16. Anonymous says

    Then PCGS paid an undisclosed figure to keep their first stikes alive and well.The lawsuit was cut and dry.Then ANA profited and they all sold out.And people still fall for this crap.I think that a grading company if professional which I don't find in any of them.Would state the word Burnished or uncirculated to distinguish the difference between bullion and the rarer uncirculated sets.But do they do that NOOOOOO!!!!.Then all their little authorized dealing buddies would get screwed.Buying graded coins is a racket.Buy from the mint only and don't get caught up in all this hog wash these grading companies and dealers come up with.

  17. Anonymous says

    The biggest crooks, in my opinion at least, appear to be Chattanooga Coin Co. If I'm correct, these same people also run a coin selling opeartion on TV. If I'm not correct, it makes no difference. Some of the falacious ads these people put in Coin World, and I suspect other publications are worded to fool the unwary. We are all aware these are hard times for everyone with a worldwide meltdown to deal with. To operate one eyelash this side of suggestively "odd" wording makes me think I wouldn't buy a soda straw from them. Yes, that's my opinion. Everyone kills their own snakes.

  18. Hidalgo says

    Question —

    Coin News reports that so far, there were 392,007 uncirculated mint sets that were sold. That's 60% of the mintage totals for 2007 and 2008.

    So with that being said, we can project that sales could likely exceed the 1,000,000 mark. I think the low overall mintages and the 4 Lincoln pennies are the keys to the demand.

    However, like in most situations, overproduction leads to greater supplies, and thus, lower values. With so many projected US mint sets being available, does anyone really think that they will indeed be valuable in the years ahead?

    Personally, I think not.

  19. John says

    Someone had mentioned that thier Zachary dollar had a hugh crack in his head. I just received my set and also noticed a crack over his left eye. It is very noticeable,I was wondering if anyone else also noticed it?
    Is this a error coin, a example of how lax thier inspection is or both?

  20. Jamie says

    I received two of these uncirculated sets over the weekend and opened them up to take a look. One of the Philadelphia sets had a rather obvious packaging error. At first, I thought a coin was missing, since one of the holes was empty, but that was not the case. The Lincoln "Formative Years" penny was sitting on top of the nickel in the nickel slot! I think this confirms the suspicion raised by another commenter that if there are inspections, they are cursory at best.

  21. Michael says

    Regarding the question on the projected high mintage for the set…

    The other factor to consider is demand. Lincoln Cents are one of the most widely collected series. The special versions contained in this set will have a steady stream of demand for a long time to come.

    At the end of the comments thread in this post:


    A reader provided a really good comparison of this year's set to the 1996 Mint Set that I think is worth checking out.

  22. ibgm says

    Quality of this set is terrible. I received my set today, very badly tarnished pennies. They almost look like they were chemically etched, I wonder if they dipped them in something? They don't care about the quality, they know that us suckers will keep buying regardless.

  23. Anonymous says

    I open the set I received and noticed that the coins were ALL rim nicked. I've never received such poor quality in any previous Uncirculated set. The cents in my Proof set are already turning to a deep copper (beautiful actually) compared to the light imprinted copper-zinc junk. My Uncirulated Mint Set doesn't show any 'quality control. Roughly treated.

  24. Anonymous says

    Any future value in the U.S. Mint Set? Depending on the TOTAL sets sold this may be a moderate winner. IF the total stays BELOW 1,000,000; great! If over 2,000,000 then recent Proof (Modern 1959-present)indicates a value of around $10.00, and over 3,000,000 around $4.00. Comparative issues, 1909-S (VDB) 484,000; 1931-S; 866,000; 1914-D; 1,193,000. Considering ALL the 2009 will be in UNC…go by the lowest price. The 1931-s may be the closest at $81.00…should the total 2009 'D' & 'P' mintage's NOT exceed the 1931-S level. ALL 'U.S. coin sets will need this 'variety' They may very well turn out to be the 2nd LOWEST mintage ever!

  25. ROBERT URSIAK says

    I recieved a mint set with a distinct tire mark on the box,inside,two bent state quarters.they were replaced,no questions asked.Although not necessarily the mint’s fault. My lincolns, in the silver proof set, have tarnished. More so on the reverse than the obverse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *