Looking After Your Pretty Pennies
Coin Handling Guide
If you are a collector or thinking of starting and you wish to keep your coins in the best condition it is important to consider your methods for handling your coins. Now it may sound obvious, many of us handle coins on a regular basis, but there is a difference in how we should handle our collector coins and our regular change.
Handling collector coins should always be done with the up most care, as damage can occur as a result of miss handling and bad practice can lead to devaluation.
Considering a great deal of a coins value can be placed upon the level of perfection found in the coins presentation, you might be surprised to know that how you handle a collector coin can effect that value tremendously.
The safest method to use when having to pick up a coin with your hands is to hold the coin from the sides, refrain from touching the obverse and reverse surfaces (the head or tail). Even the oils produced by our skin can damage a collector or proof coin.
It is recommended that you purchase yourself a pair of cotton non lint forming gloves.
Plastic gloves can sometimes contain powder coatings or other substances that may harm the coin, so we recommend you avoid these if possible.
As tempting as it may be to get your collection out, the truth is the less you handle your coins the better.
As a rule I would recommend that you avoid cleaning coins at all costs.
It may be tempting to bring a coin back to its original lustre. But more often than not this will lead to you damaging the coin.
Coin cleaning for me is a practice I do not partake in, but it is a good subject worth covering.
First of all I would like to outline what you should never do if you can't resist the temptation and give in to the wish to clean!
Using wire wool or abrasive scrubbing pads to clean coins is never an option anyone should employ, this has been done in the past with disastrous results. Acids should be avoided and most cleaning products as well as tap water.
However there are some processes you can use for cleaning that should be mentioned which if done correctly will not cause harm.
Ultrasound would be one of them, but undertake this with care and do not batch clean, you must do this on a coin by coin basis.
There are certain substances, solvents like acetone, which is found in nail polish remover that will remove stains or build up on coins. However if this is something you are willing to consider, never substitute acetone for nail polish removers as they often contain a range of additional chemicals that can cause harm. Also remember that acetone melts plastic so please keep this in mind.
Another cleaning method is to soak old coins in olive oil as this will slowly remove any unwanted build up over time. But keep in mind if a coin is encased due to material build up it is probably beyond saving, as even if you can remove the sediments what is left has probably also been damaged.
A very weak soap and purified water solution can also be used but yet again I would be cautious, and never use a detergent.
As I stated I would avoid the practice of cleaning, but if you were to clean a coin it is good to be aware of the safer methods available to you.
How you store your coins is incredibly important especially if you wish to hold on to them for a great deal of time whilst maintaining the quality of your collections condition.
Ideally the perfect environment is a safe deposit box in a bank as these environments have been purposefully designed to store precious materials and objects. However this is not the most practical option for every individual and should only be considered when dealing with coins of exceptional value.
Security at home is something that you can work on yourself and a decent safe should provide you with some level of comfort. Also consider getting an insurance policy if you plan to store coins in the home.
When it comes to the paraphernalia needed for storage and cataloguing many people use a range of folders, envelopes, boxes and glass jars to fulfil these needs and these are all perfectly fine.
The only comment I would like to make on this subject is focused on the use of folders or wallets that contain PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Avoid the use of PVC products. PVC plastics degrade over time and under high temperatures and will cause damage to your coins in the process. PVC is most commonly found in the flip folders that are sometimes sold and used within the coin collecting community. PVC is a plastic softener and you can often smell PVC, it smells like low grade plastic. My advice is look for less pliable wallets as a rule or take time to note the material of the product if its listed. Look for Mylar products that will be stiffer and harder than the PVC equivalents. Mylar does not suffer from the same degradation process and will not damage, tarnish or at worst eat through your coins. If you notice any change to your coins stored under plastic, please change the storage options immediately. Acetone is effective against PVC damage if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from it.
Environmentally coins are quite easy to keep. They are best preserved in environments with low levels of humidity and a lack of moisture. Exposure to the elements is something to avoid, keep the coins somewhere secure where they will be individually preserved without facing abrasion and erosion and they will be quite happy. Many traders sell coin collection specific storage devices that are perfectly suited for the purpose of coin storage.
Just remember if you can, segment your coins into individual pouches, envelopes or boxes, this will help with preservation and makes them easier to catalogue and observe.