As both a coin dealer and a collector myself, I have had many experiences with improperly stored coins. Many times I have received a delivery of proof sets, anticipating all of those beautiful coins, only to open a box and discover they have been improperly stored in someone’s basement or garage. There is nothing worse than having to tell someone that their coins are only worth face value and to just go ahead and spend them.
Every bit as important as knowing the value of your coins and making judicious use of your coin buying budget is the knowledge of how to protect that collection once you have made the investment. Organizing, displaying and otherwise enjoying your collection necessitates that you take steps to safeguard your collection. The natural environment presents many dangers to the value of your collection; we will do our best to equip you with the knowledge to combat these dangers.
First, you must ensure that you store your coins in a location with a moderate climate and low humidity, in order to prevent oxidation. Oxidation can create a tarnished or otherwise undesirable appearance.
The ideal location would be a dry, dark and temperature-controlled area. Basements and garages are terrible choices for storing a coin collection. An area inside the house that will remain heated is necessary. A closet, bookshelf or a safe in a heated area of the house are much better places to keep them.
Another obvious pitfall to avoid is wear. Storing coins loosely like you would with pocket change, such as in a coffee can, dresser drawer or junk box can cause nicks and scratches that will lower the value of your coins.
Plastic flips can be a good choice for storage but be aware that they are available in various materials; some of these materials can cause more harm than good. “Soft” flips are often made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which has oils in it to make them soft and pliable. This in turn causes them to decompose over time with disastrous results for coins. They are therefore not suitable for long term storage. We ship our loose coins in non-PVC flips that are suitable for archival.
Mylar and acetate coin flips do not contain PVC and are a little more costly. However, they are hard so may scratch the coin if not inserted and removed carefully. Some of them are also brittle and will not stand much handling or abuse. While not air tight, they are a reasonable choice for moderate value coins that will be “left alone” for multiple years but less so for coins that will be removed and reinserted.
Mylar-lined cardboard, often called “2x2s” but also available in other sizes, are similar to plastic flips. A coin is placed between the two halves, which are then stapled together (some brands contain an adhesive). These are a fairly good way to store a small collection where the look of them on display is not a big consideration. There are sized cardboard boxes available that hold many of these 2×2 flips with a lid to keep out the environment to a degree.
Coin tubes can be a solution where one is storing many of the same denomination of coins. Tubes are plastic containers designed to hold a number of the same size coins, like a roll of coins. They are fine for bulk storage of coins and can be used for long term storage. They are reasonably air tight and that can be augmented with a piece of vinyl tape as a seal around the lid. A particular disadvantage in this case is that the coins cannot be viewed without being removed from the tube which can lead to damage each time this occurs.
Check back next week to learn more about how to safely store coins.