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How Should I Store My Coins?
There are two concerns when discussing coin storage. First, the storage of the individual coin, and Second, the storage of a group of coins, or a whole collection.
Storage of Coin Collection
The Environment of the entire Collection, or Group of Coins is the focus, considering Temperature, Humidity and Light. Relatively constant, moderate to low temperature and low humidity are preferable for long-term storage of numismatic collectibles. Placing packets of silica gel, which absorbs moisture, in the coin vaults helps control atmospheric humidity. The less light, the better; and absolutely no sunlight. This is why a safe or vault is the ultimate storage container; because it controls Temperature, Light and Humidity, and provides Superior Security.
Groups of Coins, or Collections are best preserved in plastic coins, as sold by PCGS, NGC and Whitman, and which will hold 20, separate, “slabed” coins. Another alternative is a cardboard coin storage box (single and double; red, blue or black), which stack easily on top of each other. Different sizes are available for slabs, as well as Vinyl and Cardboard Flips.
Storage of Individual Coins
Placing Individual coins in Holders is Mandatory for all coins whose condition is BU and higher, or MS60 and higher. Coins under these names are considered “circulated” because they are found in the general circulation of money. Typically this will mean they are found in pocket change, or in rolls of coins bought at a local bank. Although collecting Circulated coins is a great personal challenge for many collectors, the more serious Coin Collectors will focus on “Uncirculated” coins (BU+ and MS60+) due to their better condition (grade), value and appearance.
Types of Containers or Holders.
Almost anything will work for coins with little or no numismatic value. A coin that is worth only face value is unlikely to have much numismatic value. while nearly airtight holders made of inert materials are a better idea for valuable coins.
Bags, jars and boxes are suitable for raw pocket change and circulated coins.
Paper Envelopes or Paper Flips of various sizes (usually 2 x 2) are still used for single coins. Be sure to use envelopes made expressly to hold coins, otherwise your coins may change color (tone) over time due to reaction with sulfur or other chemicals present in the paper. Because the coin cannot be seen, it is now out of favor with collectors.
Folders and Albums are sold mainly for series and fonts. Used correctly, they offer moderate protection against wear and tear and handling. Over the years coins can tone due to reaction with sulfur or other chemicals present in the folders and albums, and are therefore not a good choice for long-term storage of higher grade coins. The coins are still exposed to light, air, chemicals and human touch. Albums have clear plastic covers over the coins that slide in and out. This sliding action can leave unwanted and unattractive marks on the coin.
Plastic Flips are available in a variety of materials. “Soft” flips were once made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which decomposed over time with disastrous results for coins; leaving a green appearance and substance. PVC flips are no longer made and sold. Mylar, vinyl and acetate flips do not contain PVC. Although not airtight, they are reasonable choices for moderate value coins that will be “left alone” for several years.
Vinyl Pages (8 ½ x 11) that fit in a 3-ring binder. Well suited for Cardboard and Vinyl Flips, with great visibility of coin obverse and reverse. This is a Big Favorite.
Mylar-lined Cardboard Flips, often called “2x2s” or cardboard flips. Once upon a time, the most preferred and often used. but also available in other sizes, are similar to plastic flaps. A coin is placed between the two halves, which are then folded and stapled together (some brands contain glue). The boxes they come in are ideal for storing multiple coins.
Tubes are plastic containers designed to hold a number of coins of the same size. They come in different sizes for different coins. They are good for bulk storage of circulated coins and suitable for higher grade Uncirculated, BU+ and MS60+ coins. A disadvantage is that the coins cannot be viewed without being removed from the tube.
Hard Plastic Holders are preferable for higher value coins. They are self-sealing, and are not known to contain any materials that harm coins and offer good protection against scratches, touching and handling, air and chemicals and other physical damage. They are available for individual and small sets of coins, and come in all sizes.
Slabs are Sonically Sealed hard plastic holders for individual coins. They offer Excellent protection. Due to the expense of holding coins, they are generally only suitable for higher value coins – ie: BU+ and MS60+ Coins.
Although generic slabs are available, most often, a slab will be seen holding a coin that has been Professionally Certified and Graded – which has enormous advantages. The biggest advantage is when buying coin online or over the phone. You know what you are getting. A Coin Certified and Graded by one of the “Top Four” provides reliability, assurance and security. A big advantage over the fraudulent sellers of raw coins and non-compliant classification companies.
Have fun collecting your Perfect Coins!
Robert L Taylor, JD
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