For beginners and long-time coin handlers, the relationship one has with their coin collection is ever evolving. For newcomers, they may have a good grasp on what their collection involves in terms of bullion, proof, numismatic or semi-numismatic coins and their total value, but they might feel unprepared on how to properly touch these pieces. Or, they could be unfamiliar with expert opinions about whether or not you can pick up coins.
For experienced numismatists, perhaps they have a level of comfortability in how they are storing their coins, but are eager to change their in-home display for parts or all of their collection. Either way, consider the points below while handling, caring for and displaying precious metal coins.
How to handle coins
Typically, handling valuable coins is advised against, regardless of how long you’ve been collecting coins. This is for two reasons. First, natural oils and dirt on your hands can cause damage, even if these contaminants are not visible to the eye. Second, handling presents an opportunity for fingerprints to transfer onto faces of coins. Aside from handling, cleaning coins also has the potential to be harmful, with abrasive cleaning being the most detrimental. The use of a wire brush and acidic substances ignite the oxidation process. And with changes to the surface color, flow lines, and aesthetic qualities, the value can be negatively impacted.
At-home coin handling equipment
In the case of emergency situations, it can be valuable to have handling tools at your disposal. An important piece of handling equipment is lint-free cotton gloves. Some might bring up the counterargument that gloves can make it easier to accidentally drop a coin as you are not directly touching it and might have less of a firm grip. But, typically dealers, experts or speculators opt for more cautious approaches because some metals like copper coins are very reactive to oils. To combat this potential issue, research gloves according to the fit and product features they offer.
- Proper fit of the glove
- Finger, palm and wrist measurements
- Individual sizing versus a “one size fits most” sizing
- Website comparisons to a similar product
- Product reviews by former customers
- Useful product features
- Material stretch
- Material blends
- Thumb sewing
- Wrist buttons
It is also important to avoid powdered latex or plastic gloves. And, never assume that if you have a box of disposable or medical gloves, that these are powder-free for the sake of your collectible coins.
Once you have proper gloves, make sure to handle your coins on padded surfaces. If you are not on a surface over a carpeted area, microfiber towels and felt-lined coin trays can create soft, padded workspaces in case the coin takes a short fall.
Aside from this, make sure to remind others of the proper techniques when letting them handle your coin collection. For example, they may be unaware that it is safer to touch coins on edges rather than directly on a face.
With little time being spent handling coins, storage is even more important.
How to care for your coins
As previously noted, an emphasis should be placed on storage as physical handling will be a small portion of the time that you are spending with your coins. But, two factors have the potential to create unsafe storage procedures. One is allowing others to handle your coins without the proper safe-handling technique. Another is unforeseen environmental or seasonal climatic factors. Luckily, proper preparation and diligence can help avoid both of these.
At home storage self-analysis
With new and existing spaces, some starter questions to ask include:
- Who will have access to this space?
- Will pets or children have access to your collection?
- Will the storage space be subject to extreme temperature fluctuations?
- Are there any seasonal concerns or extreme weather patterns that could drastically affect this space?
Fortunately, if you answer yes to some of these questions, low-cost solutions are feasible. For pets and children, baby gates, nanny cams, room monitors and safety locks and latches for doors can be added. For weather implications, supplementary appliances for increased protection like dehumidifiers, air purifiers or space heaters and air conditioners are available.
Don’t overlook the importance of the containers that hold the coins, either. For example, traces of PVC in plastic flips can change the faces of coins. Storing your coins in common household storage items can also be inadequate. While convenient, paper envelopes and cardboard are damaging because of oxidation and acid exposure.
If at-home storage sounds daunting or unfeasible for your lifestyle, there are plenty of out-of-home alternatives, like professional services for storing silver coins. Local bank safe deposit boxes or large scale banks with bullion bank vaults can be alternatives to home storage. Furthermore, there are private security companies who have bullion depositories.
How to create an at-home exhibition and organizational systems
Not only does an at-home display help you know what coins you currently have, but it allows for asset management in available space and potential areas of growth for your collection. Below are some questions you might ask when considering your coin collection’s at-home display.
- Does this display need to be portable?
- Is it going to be freestanding or wall mounted?
- Might a vertical or horizontal display be better?
- Will the display help preserve the coins’ appearance and value?
Solutions and examples
Depending on your answers, booklets like Whitman Folders or Dansco-Style albums can help you discover what display system might be right for you. Transparent specialized display cases with glass sides and lid could also be excellent display options. There are also paper flips, peel-n-seal flips, coin snaps, display slabs and BCW coin tubes. When ordering these items online, you can focus your search on your wants and needs by viewing what is most popular or most highly rated. Or, a more specific method could be:
- By price
- Under $25, under $99, under $499, under $999 or under $2,500.
- By brand
- A few brands among many to consider are Air-Tite, Capital Plastic, CoinSafe, Geiger, Guardhouse, Intercept Technology, Lighthouse, Perth Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, The Royal Mint, U.S. Mint or Whitman Publishing.
- By product line
- Includes bags, cleaners, capsules, magnifiers, calipers or velvet pouches.
- By year
- Either by ascending or descending order or by 21st, 20th and 19th century categories.
- By condition
- Find uncertified, original packaging or bags.
- By sovereign issuing country
- Such as North America, Asia, Europe, Oceania or Africa.
Likewise, custom creations can express your creativity as a coin collector with personalized name plaques and custom framing. You can even control small features like the gold, silver, bronze or gunmetal hardware used.
Alongside displaying coins, organization and documentation can help get your collection in order. When taking inventory of your collection, be sure to include year, country, mint mark and grade. You can also add price information and original purchase date. Hierarchical organizational structures can also be created by value (high-low or low-high), historical periods (earliest-latest or latest-earliest) or alphabetically (A-Z).
There are several software options for inventorying your collection, including among others PCGS Set Registry, Exact Change and EzCoin.
There are also smartphone apps like Coinflation and Coin Book Pro to help coin collectors looking for a hand-held option.
Please note that with respect to the information set forth in this post, Rosland is not endorsing any particular product or company and you should ultimately rely on your own research and judgement.
However you display your coins, keep in mind that preserving your coins’ value and appearance should be the main goal. But it’s not the only goal. Creativity, having fun and the enjoyment that comes with displaying your collection are also excellent reasons to own gold and silver coins.
For more information on precious metals, please explore Rosland’s frequently asked questions.