Caring for Your Coin Collection

To retain the value and aesthetic of your coin collection, proper care and storing are essential.

Organizing Your Collection

Tools to help you organize and care for your collection include:

  • A high-quality magnifying glass for coin inspection
  • A padded jeweler’s tray, plush towel, or soft cloth to set coins on when viewing them
  • A plastic ruler; avoid hard, metal rulers that may scratch coins
  • A general coin reference book that includes information on dates, mint marks, major varieties, grading guidelines, and prices
  • Good lighting, e.g., a halogen lamp
  • Soft, cotton gloves
  • Coin envelopes, holders or albums for storing your coins

Handling Your Collection

Hold a coin by its edges, and over a soft towel or other soft surface, between a thumb and forefinger. Additionally, wearing soft cotton gloves 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 promote tarnish and spots that devalue coins. Avoid talking directly over coins; tiny droplets of saliva can create spots on a coin. Just like fingerprints, these marks are difficult to remove.

Use original holders
All modern proof sets and commemoratives should be bought and sold in original cases and capsules. Tip: When inserting or removing a coin, “bow” the packaging by pressing opposite sides inward to avoid scratching the coin. Additionally, avoid soft plastic holders that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical that softens plastics. PVC can eventually coat a valuable coin with sticky green slime, which eats into the coin’s surface.

Save documentation
A certificate of authenticity and an information card accompany uncirculated and commemorative sets.

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.

Storage and Display Options

  • Flips, for a coin and its label
  • 2″ x 2″ Cardboard Holders
  • Plastic Tubes, for coin rolls
  • Hard Plastic Holders, for high-value coins
  • Polyethylene Sleeves, for short-term storage
  • Paper Envelopes Made for Holding Coins, for circulating coins; ordinary envelopes could contain chemicals that cause your coins to change color over time
  • Foldout Albums, for short-term storage of lower-grade coins
  • Slabs, sonically sealed hard plastic holders that are good storage protection, for individual, high-value coins
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