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At last a definite end

While children all across America are waiting for Santa to arrive in a couple of days, the nation’s coin collectors have received a gift of sorts from the U.S. Mint.

That gift is website clarity.

The Mint’s website will now post an unambiguous “Sold Out” on products that have gone off sale rather than “Out of Stock.”

“Out of Stock” until now has had a couple of meanings, which has been one too many for clients who were trying to cherry-pick what they think might be scarce products at the end of the year.

“Out of Stock” holds out the hope of a product once again becoming available.

That could have been the case in certain instances and not the case in others.

Trying to sort out the difference has been a challenge.

To help, the Mint this morning has provided these explanations:

“Out Of Stock: Products in ‘Out of Stock’ status with no ‘Remind Me’ button are not available for sale. If product becomes available through additional production or cancelled orders, the product will be made available for purchase again.

“Out of Stock with ‘Remind Me’ button: When products are in an ‘Out of Stock’ status with a ‘Remind Me’ button, there is no inventory currently available, but additional inventory is likely. Products in this status cannot be ordered, but by clicking the ‘Remind Me’ button you can request to be reminded by email when product becomes available.”

This reminder would have been handy when 3,500 Baseball silver dollars were put up for sale a few days ago.

The Mint also explained:

“Starting today, the United States Mint’s online product catalog will include an additional product status notification to alert customers of product availability. In addition to ‘Back Order,’ ‘Out of Stock’ and ‘Out of Stock/Remind Me,’ we will now include a ‘Sold Out’ notification on the product page. The ‘Sold Out’ status is based on actual inventory, rather than adjusted net demand of the product, which reflected only orders placed and did not include other factors such as cancellations, credit card approvals, etc. A ‘Sold Out’ status differs from ‘Out of Stock’ in that there is no additional production or cancelled orders that can be used to fulfill orders.

“Back Order: When products are in ‘Back Order’ status, this means that the product is available for sale, however there is no inventory in stock and a future ship date is displayed on our website. Products in this status can still be ordered online or by calling Customer Service at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).”

This new information might end the Christmas dreams of a few potential buyers. That is certainly the case for a would-be proof gold Eagle buyer who emailed me earlier this month, but that is far better than living with an ambiguous hope for a coin that will never come back on sale

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."