July 2003 Book Review Part Six
Special *July 2003* Early Addition Of Our Book Review:
Indepth Book Review On 2000 North American Coins & Prices:
A Guide To U.S., Canadian and Mexican Coins....
Collectible Treasures Antique and Collectibles
Book Review July 2003
Interesting Information On Coin Collecting as noted in the 2000
North American Coins & Prices: A Guide To U.S., Canadian and
CARING FOR COINS
How to store and preserve your collection by Alan Herbert
From the day you acquire your first collectible coin, you have to
consider where and how to store your collection. Often a shoebox
or a small cardboard or plastic box of some kind will be the principal
storage point as you start to gather coins, even before they can be considered a collection. Sooner or later you will outgrow that first
box and need to think seriously about what to do with your coins to
protect and preserve them.
All too often security takes precedence over preservation. We're
more worried that the kids will dip into the coins for candy or ice
cream or that burglars will somehow learn about your "valuable"
collection and pay a visit. It often isn't until years later when you
suddenly notice that your once beautiful coins are now dingy and
dull, with spots and fingerprints all over them, that preservation
becomes a primary consideration.
Learning good storage habits should be one of the first things to do
right along with acquiring those first coins. There are a mulitude of
storage products on the market that are intended for more or less
specific situations, so learning which to use and how to use them is
vital to the health of your collection. Most if not all of the products mentioned here should be available at your nearest coin shop or
SAFE STORAGE METHODS
The common impulse is to use what's available around the home;
never allow that impulse to control your collecting. Plastic wrap,
aluminum foil, cardboard, stationery envelopes, and other common household products are not designed for coin storage and never
should be used for your collection. The same goes for soaps and
cleansers found around the home.
There are specific products that have been designed, tested and
found safe to use for coins. These are the media your collection
deserves. The slight added expense will pay a thousand dividends
years from now when you sell your collection or pass it on to your
The most common storage media are 2-inch by 2-inch cardboard
holders with Mylar windows, 2-by-2 plastic "flips," coin tubes, hard-
plastic holders, coin boards, and coin albums.
The 2-by-2 plastic flips come in good and bad varieties. The old,
usually soft flips are made of plastics that contain polyvinylchloride,
a chemical found in many plastics. Over time it breaks down into substances that put a green slime on your coins, which attacks the
surface and ruins them.
The good flips are made of Mylar, but they are brittle and prone to
splitting. So they should not be used to mail coins or when the coins
are moved about frequently. Mylar flips, too, are for short-term general storage.
Often you will find coins in PVC holders when you buy them from a
dealer. Remove them immediately and put them in some better
Coin tubes come in clear and cloudy, or translucent, plastic. These
are made of an inert plastic that will not harm your coins. Tubes are intended for bulk, medium-to-long-term storage, with one caution:
Use care when inserting the coins. Merely dropping one coin onto
another in a tube can damage both coins. The best technique is to
make a stack or pile of the coins, then slide the pile carefully into the
tube while holding it at an angle.
Hard-plastic holders are the elite items for storing your collection.
There are a number of varieties, some of which come in three parts
that are screwed together. Some come in two pieces that fit together. Some of these are airtight and watertight. They are more expensive,
but they deserve to be used for any really valuable coins in your
Coins processed by the third-party grading services come in hard-
plastic holders, most of which are at least semiairtight. The hard-
plastic holders used by the U.S. Mint for proof sets since 1968 are
not airtight, so coins should be watched carefully for signs of
problems. In recent years these holders have been improved,
but you should check your proof sets periodically.
Any stored coins should be checked regularly, at least twice a year.
Check coins for signs of spotting or discoloration. Check the storage
media for any signs of deterioration, rust, mildew, or other problems.
The older mint sets and proof sets--issued from 1955 to 1964--come
in soft-plastic envelopes that are not intended for long-term storage.
Coins in these envelopes should be put in better storage media for
the long term. In recent years the Mint has switched to an inert,
stiffer plastic for the mint sets. This plastic is safe.
A coin folder is frequently the first piece of equipment the beginning collector buys. It is simply a piece of cardboard with holes to hold
the coins. The holder folds up for storage. It is intended for
inexpensive circulated coins only.
They give no protection from contamination or fingerprints. Worn
coins will often fall out of the holes, which leads some novice
collectors to tape the coins in the album. This is another example
of misuse of a household product; tape can permanently damage a
Pride of ownership and the desire to show off a collection are the
moving forces behind the sale of thousands of coin albums. They
should also be used for inexpensive circulated coins only, with a
couple of exceptions.
Some albums are merely coin boards mounted between covers.
Others have pages with sliding plastic strips on both sides of the
page so both sides of the coin can be seen.
The open-face albums are subject to fingerprints and contamination. Sneezing on your coins can do as much damage as gouging them
with a knife. The slides will rub on your coins, damaging the high
points of the design over time. These two types of albums should
never be used for expensive uncirculated or proof coins, although
they are fine for circulated coins that you want to display.
Fairly new on the market are albums designed for coins in inert,
airtight holders. This allows you to display your coins and still
keep them safe from handling and contact with the atmosphere.
One more storage medium that deserves mention is the clear-
plastic notebook page that has pockets for 2-by-2 holders or flips.
Here again there are good and bad. Most old pocket sheets
contain PVC, so they cannot be used to hold coins in non-airtight
holdeers because the gases will migrate into the holders and
damage the coins. The newer Mylar pages are brittle but will not
generate damaging gases or liquids.
When buying storage media, make sure the dealer guarantees
that his products are safe for coins. Many of the old albums, flips
and pocket pages are still around, especially at flea markets. If
you are in doubt, don't buy.
There are also thin, two-piece, inert plastic holders that many
collectors use to protect coins put in flips or 2-by-2 cardboard
holders, especially to protect them from moving about against
the holder and getting scratched. They are virtually airtight, so
they do offer some protection.
Coins need to be protected from burglars. A box under the bed
or in the closet offers no protection. If you must keep coins at
home, a good, fireproof safe is a must. Otherwise, rent a safe-
deposit box at a bank, but read the fine print on your box
contract to make sure a coin collection is covered.
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