How long should the U.S. Mint keep offering older products?

?How long should the United States Mint keep offering coins, annual sets, and other products past the end of the calendar year?

A look at the U.S. Mint’s online catalog shows that products that are now six and seven years old remain available to customers. In the America the Beautiful quarter dollars program, for example, three-coin sets containing coins from the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints remain available to the beginning of the program in 2010. Is that too long?

Allowing products to remain available for two and three and even six years might be beneficial to collectors who are just getting started and might be interested in acquiring older sets at issue prices, but it also leaves collectors who bought the products as soon as they were offered uncertain about whether sales will ever end. It can be disconcerting to see a product’s sales figure or “mintage” continuing to rise year after year.

A number of 2016 products remain available today, including the Standing Liberty quarter dollar and Walking Liberty half dollar in the Centennial gold coin series. Is it appropriate to keep selling these two coins, with mintages maybe rising or falling by a handful of coins each week? They are labeled “Limited” at the website, but an end to sales seems nowhere in sight.

The Mint does have some limitations imposed upon it. Commemorative coin programs by law have to close at the end of the calendar year. But the vast majority of products have no restrictions imposed.

Many collectors would probably tell Mint officials to take annual sets off sale more quickly than occurs now. Why are some 2014 sets in the America the Beautiful quarter dollars program still available at issue price nearly three years after sales began?

Collectors like to know how many of a particular set or coin exist. When sales continue for years, they wonder if they will ever know.