You probably started a coin collection some time in your life, almost everyone has. Collecting methods vary. Some folks just dump their pocket change into a big jar. Others buy folders at the local hobby shop and pop coins into the slots provided. Some people use “flips,” albums, or “slabs” to store their coins.
Depending on your collecting goals, all of these are acceptable methods of storing coins. The purpose of this article is to point out some basic steps you can take to organize, preserve, store, and display your coins in a way which will preserve their value; make other people say, “Wow;” and keep the hobby an enjoyable part of your life.
So what should you do when you get a coin that you think is interesting?
First, DO NOT CLEAN THE COIN!
When I was young I believed that one of my great callings in life was to beautify the coinage used by the American public. I obtained literally hundreds of Lincoln Cents, placed a drop of Worcestershire Sauce on them, let them sit for a few minutes and then blotted the sauce away. The result, in my eyes, was a nice, shiny, beautiful coin. The actual result was a shiny, but damaged coin. Much of a coin’s value as a collectible is resident in the surface of the coin. The more of the original surface which remains undisturbed, the more valuable a coin is likely to be. Almost every cleaning method involves disturbing or removing the coin’s patina, or luster. One of my mentors in numismatics (the formal name for coin collecting) collects Mercury Dimes. He frequently says that he collects “dull grey” rather than “shiny silver” coins.
Second, ONLY HANDLE THE COIN BY THE EDGES
Even the oils in your skin can affect the patina of a coin. The patina is the shiny surface the coin carries when it leaves the mint. Obviously, scratches and dings mar the coin’s surface, but even marks left by your fingers on the obverse (heads side) or reverse (tails side) of a “brilliant uncirculated” or “proof” coin can seriously affect its value. When you handle a coin hold it by the edges, wear cotton gloves, or use special coin collecting tweezers to prevent defacing the coin’s surface even a little bit.
Third, STORE THE COIN WHERE IT WILL NOT DETERIORATE OR BE DAMAGED
Dirt, chemicals, and moisture all affect the surface of a coin. Display boards and folders are good ways to help prevent damage to a coin if it is dropped, but the fact that the coin is still exposed to the air, moisture, and the fingers of young (and sometimes not so young) viewers means that these are not the preferred storage methods for higher grade coins.
Albums are nice in that there is a clear plastic cover between the viewer and the coin. Unlike with folders and display boards, the viewer can see both sides of the coin without removing (and therefore handling) it. A “flip,” which is the common name given to cardboard squares with clear plastic film coverings into which you can insert and secure a coin is also good for this purpose. For more details, please visit these sites:- www.bunnydirectories.com
The advantage here is that you can examine single coins without having to deal with a larger album. The coin is individually protected to some degree from damage caused by dropping it or rubbing coins together. The disadvantage is that the organization provided by the other methods discussed so far is nonexistent. Both albums and display boards frequently have the dates and production information printed right on the pages, and the slots for the coins are right there in order! You can immediately see what you have and what you are missing! You lose that advantage with any storage method in which coins are stored individually. Also, coins stored in flips are still somewhat exposed to the air, and the plastic in some flips can actually be harmful to the coin’s finish. If you choose this storage method, be sure to buy “archival” flips.
Individual containers, such as those made by Air-Tite are nice in that they are less likely to allow air into the container. They are clear, hard, plastic containers, each of which usually contains a single coin. The possibility of damage from dropping or mishandling the coin drops dramatically, as does the possibility of contamination from the environment. You can even purchase “slabs” which provide an even greater degree of security and protection. The disadvantage here is that these storage methods, besides being subject to the organizational disadvantages mentioned, take up more room!