To retain the value and look of your coin collection, proper care and storing are essential.
Tools to help you organize and care for your collection include:
- A high-quality magnifying glass for coin inspection
- A soft cloth or pad to hold coins over when viewing them
- A plastic ruler (metal rulers may scratch coins)
- A general coin reference book that includes information on dates, mint marks, major varieties, grading guidelines, and prices
- Good lighting
- Soft cotton gloves
- Coin holders or albums for storing your coins
Handling Your Collection
Hold a coin by its edges between your thumb and forefinger over a soft towel or surface. Wear soft cotton gloves to protect the coin’s surface from fingerprints and the natural oils on your skin, which can be corrosive.
While you may be tempted to polish your coins to make them look shiny and new, proceed with caution. Polishing and/or cleaning coins can reduce their value. Older coins that show deep age coloration are more desirable than coins whose surfaces have been stripped away by improper polishing or cleaning.
If you do polish a coin to remove dirt, use mild soap and water. Once you’ve washed the coin, pat it dry with a soft towel. Brushing or rubbing can scratch a coin’s delicate surface.
Storing Your Collection
Keep coins cool and dry
Sharp changes in temperature and moisture cause discoloration that devalues coins. Avoid talking directly over coins; tiny droplets of saliva can also create spots on a coin. Just like fingerprints, these marks are difficult to remove.
Use original holders
All modern coin sets and coins should be bought and sold in original cases and capsules. The Mint sells coin sets in protective plastic cases called lenses or in folders. Individual coins are packaged in capsules fitted into folders or boxes.
In addition to original holders, other storage options include:
- 2″ x 2″ cardboard or plastic holders
- Plastic tubes or capsules
- Sleeves or envelopes
For high-value coins, use hard plastic holders. Professional coin grading services use sealed holders called slabs to protect authenticated and graded coins.
Use acid-free cardboard and plastic holders free from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Acid and PVC can ruin a coin’s surface. PVC eventually coats a coin with sticky green slime.
Some coins and coin sets come with a certificate of authenticity and/or an information card.
Keep them safe
A safe-deposit box at a bank is ideal. If you have a home collection, ensure that your home insurance covers full replacement costs.