Storing and Caring for Coins Properly

by Chad Eicher

Storing and Caring for Coins

Handling coins correctly and caring for coins properly will save you grief in the long run. Expensive collectible coins can be ruined in the blink of an eye if dropped, rubbed cleaned or subjected to other abuses.

Touch the field of a proof coin like the beautiful 2013 Silver Eagle Proof to the right and your fingerprint will be left there for all eternity.

Caring for coins is really nothing more than the application of common sense. And good etiquette should be to treat coins that belong to others as you want them to treat yours! Here’s some tips to follow to properly care for your collectible coins.

Wash Your Hands

Believe it or not the natural chemicals on your hands will damage your coins. If you have any doubts go grab a brand new penny, put it between your thumb and forefinger and give it a good squeeze. Set it aside overnight.

Now pick up the penny and look at the clear fields. You will see dark ridges that follow your finger prints. If you’re not going to wear gloves when handling your coins at least wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling coins to help prevent transference of oils and dirt.
Caring for Coins – Wear Gloves

Especially if you’re going to be handling proof or very valuable coins. Get in the habit of wearing a pair of white cotton gloves when you’re handling collectible coins.

With the gloves, even if you’re holding it on the edge and the coin slips it’s protected by the gloves. Gloves like those pictured on the right are inexpensive and do a great job of protecting your coins. They also aid in holding coins securely. And besides, you’ll look cool and professional with the white gloves on!!:>)

Hold Coins Properly

Always hold coins on the edge.

Never clamp the flat fields between your thumb and forefinger.

Holding coins by the edge helps to prevent the oils, grease and dirt on your fingers from contacting the clear fields of your coin.

Of course this isn’t a real problem if you’re wearing gloves to handle the coins with!
Caring For Coins – Do NOT Clean Coins

Here’s where we get into a great deal of controversy. So this is my opinion.

Unless the coin just came out of the ground and is encrusted in dirt do NOT clean your coins. Do not attempt to remove toning. Do not attempt to make the coin “shine.”

When any kind of polish is used on a coin it removes the natural luster of the metal. Rubbing of any kind on a coin leaves scratches and removes luster. Coin collectors want coins that are honest even if that includes toning because that is the natural state of a coin as it ages. Think patina!

I know there are many products out there that purport to clean coins without damaging the coin. I’ve yet to see one work as advertised. And when it’s discovered a coin has been cleaned it drastically reduces the value of that coin.

So do your self a favor, don’t clean your coins. If you’ve discovered a coin that you feel needs to be cleaned use a professional company like Numismatic Conservation Services to do the job.

Store Coins Properly

You can always throw your expensive coins into the sock drawer, a glass jar or old Crown Royal bag but guess what? They’re going to get damaged from banging into each other, sliding around and such. Part of having a great coin collection and caring for coins is learning to organize them.

Coin folders like the Presidential Coin Folder to the right is one way of both caring for coins and protecting them at the same time.

The only shortcoming with folders is that air is still allowed in contact with the coins and over many years the paper itself breaks down and releases acids that can tone or even damage the coins. Still, it’s not a bad way of storing your coins.

If you decide to store your coins in plastic flips, folds like 2x2s or tubes make absolutely sure the plastic container does NOT contain PVC. PVC contents will create a green slime over time that will make your coins worthless

Caring for coins isn’t rocket science. It is simply common sense. And learning how to care for your coins and display them is part of the hobby, part of what it means to be a coin collector.

Learn what items you’ll need for your coin collection at Coin Collecting Supplies.

Protecting your coins so they can be passed on to the next generation is all part of the coin collecting hobby. Caring for coins in your collection is as important as the gold, silver or copper coins you’ve chosen for that collection.

Now that you’ve learned about caring for coins go have some fun and buy a coin!

Subscribe to MP Monthly

Once a month we email detectorists like you with the top tips, insights and best deals to improve your treasure hunting game. Sign up below to get the next one.