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Proper Care and Feeding of Coins

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Let's look into the proper care and feeding of your coins. OK, that may be taking it too far... however, proper handling and storage of coins is very important! Coins are treasures to collectors and we plan to have them for generations but enjoying the beauty and keeping the brilliance does take a little forethought. Coin collecting has quintupled in the past 10 to 15 years so there are a lot of new collectors who are now figuring out their coins were not stored properly. We also have figured out the way our fathers and grandfathers stored their precious coins has come back to haunt us. Let's take a look at the "DONT'S" and then the "DO'S" of caring for your coins.

Don't do this!

Let's start out with how to hold a coin. This seems simple on the surface but the fingerprint you can't see today may be the most notable feature on a coin 20 years from now! First, only handle coins with clean dry hands. For more valuable coins, lint-free gloves are inexpensive, plentiful, and highly recommended. Secondly, only hold the coin by the edge, this will help keep the natural oils on your fingers from contacting the surface of your coins. 

The most common mistake new collectors make is picking the wrong holders. Books made to hold coins look great and it's fun to watch them fill up but they are one of the worst ways to keep your collection. In the days of our fathers and grandfathers, the coin books were horrible! The old folders had acid in the cardboard that damaged the coins... but it gets worse. A lot of the old books with plastic slots for the coins degraded over time and left a residue of polyvinyl chloride on the coins (especially common in the old flips). That is a big word for BAD! The coins ended up looking like this:

Another example to avoid is the 2 x 2 cardboard and stapled holders pictured below. The newest ones are not terrible on the coins but as they age the clear cellophane can become brittle and scratch the coins. The biggest problem is the staples. Invariably, I will see people pull dozens of these out of their bank bags or have them stacked on each other. The staples will often tear the cellophane or worse... push through and scratch the coins underneath. Now that I have stepped on many collector's toes, let's look at the best ways to help preserve your coins.

Do this!

Before we move to holders, remember this: where you store your coins is as important as how. Oxygen and humidity are the enemy! Tarnish is nothing more than the metal in a coin reacting to humidity and chemicals in the air. Store your coins in air tight containers if possible. One cheap trick is to pay attention when you open packages. The small white packs that say "silica" are in the packages to draw out humidity, save those! Of course, you can buy them too but you can save a little extra to buy coins by reprocessing them. Put the packets in the safe or box you keep your coins in to help keep down the humidity.

Some of you will think this is overboard but splurge for air tight capsules! Most of them can be found for a dollar or two and they are made for just about every coin known to man. You can also find different displays that will hold them and a lot of the coin books are now being made to accept the capsules. Remember, oxygen and humidity are the enemy. Another great option is to buy certified coins when price and availability are right. NGC and PCGS "slabs" are some of the best holders to keep your coins preserved. Granted, a lot of coins that I own are worth a whole lot less than the cost of having them certified, so some good 'ol common sense goes a long way here. The bottom line is: being careful with your coins, and a couple of extra dollars for the right holders, will pay dividends in condition down the road.


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