Caring for Your Coins


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Welcome to Heritage
Heritage Rare Coin Galleries and Heritage Numismatic Auctions, divisions of Heritage Auctions, are the world's largest numismatic dealers and auctioneers. Heritage has achieved this status through determination, hard work, and by consistently producing results for our clients that met or exceeded their expectations. Throughout the hundreds and hundreds of auctions we have held, our ability to get the job done on time, and as promised, has never faltered.

Roughly ten times per year Heritage holds Signature Auctions of US coins in conjunction with larger shows. Three times a year, we hold Signature Auctions featuring World and Ancient coins. Every week, we hold Internet-only auctions of certified, mostly US coins, with sessions ending Tuesday and Sunday. We also offer coins for direct purchase both from our own inventory or, through our Virtual Bourse, from participating dealers all over the US.

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Caring for Your Coins

  1. 1. Caring for Your CoinsCaring for Your CoinsCoins are designed to last. The mere existence today of coins over 2,000 years old proves it. Butalthough coinage has been the backbone of commerce through most of recorded history, coinswill become worn over time if they are handled and spent. As collectors, most of us areinterested in acquiring high quality coins for our collection, and at a minimum, we need toensure that we dont do anything to hurt our prized possessions.As collectors, we need to learn both how and where to store coins. We hope the followinginformation will help you keep your collection intact over the years.Storage methods:Folders | Coin Boards | Albums | 2x2s | Flips | Hard Plastic | Coin Tubes | SlabsFoldersMany of us who began collecting as kids started out by filling Whitman folders with LincolnCents or Jefferson Nickels. Today, many people who are discovering coin collecting with theStatehood Quarter series use similar folders, now available from a number of manufacturers.Folders are cheap, and are excellent for storing low value or circulated coins. However, theyonly allow you to look at one side of a coin, and over time they can cause toning on theunexposed side of the coin. Because one side of the coin is exposed to air and theres nothing inparticular to hold the coin in, there is also the possibility that coins can fall out when the folderis opened. Some Whitman folders, most notably for Cents, have a "Lock-in" feature whichprevents coins from falling out, but the amount of effort required to put the coins into theholes has led to the nickname "Thumbbuster".Coin BoardsSimilar to folders, but flat. These were popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and there are quite avariety of Statehood Quarter coin boards available today.
  2. 2. AlbumsFancier and more expensive than folders, these are a good way to keep higher quality coins.Coin albums open like books and have pages consisting of holes for each coin. Each hole iscovered on both sides by a clear mylar slider which, when open, allows the collector to insertthe coin into the hole and, when closed, allows one to see both sides of the coins.Its a little bit less likely that youll be able to find these in a bookstore, but most decent-sizedcoin shops will carry a selection of albums from manufacturers like Dansco and Whitman, andin some cases you may be able to find used albums to house your collection.If you keep very high grade coins in an album, be sure that the coins are inserted in such a waythat they do not make contact with the mylar slide when it is removed. These contact marks arecalled "Slide Marks" and can lessen the grade of an uncirculated coin. Also, although both sidesof your coins will be covered, it is possible to lose coins within a coin album if the papercovering the page is loose, and especially if the coins in your album are small. There areprobably a few Half Dime albums out there that are not as empty as their owners think!2x2sPronounced "Two by Twos", these are small cardboard holders that fold over a coin with acellophane window that allows you to see both sides of the coin. The most common onesmeasure two inches square when folded, hence the name. You can purchase these in varioussizes depending on the coin you wish to store; coin windows come in sizes ranging from dime tosilver dollar, and the actual holders can range from 1.5 inches square (which is not big enoughto hold a silver dollar) to 2.5 inches square (which is necessary to hold a larger coin such as aSilver American Eagle).2x2s are inexpensive, and you can find them at coin shops, where you will probably be able tobuy as many or as few as you need. Better hobby shops will often carry them, as well. If youwish to use these you will need to have a stapler in order to put both sides of the holder aroundthe coin, and many people recommend that you also use a pair of pliers to crimp the staplesafter you put the holder together in order to minimize the effects of air flows on the coin.Because 2x2s generally hold only one coin, you will also need to find housing for them if youdont want them to lie loose in a pile somewhere. The boxes they come in work quite well, andmany coin shops sell empty boxes designed to house them. You can also keep them in plasticpages designed to hold them, such as in a stock book or a binder.Finally, 2x2s, unlike other kinds of coin supplies, can be used one time only. Removing a coinfrom the 2x2 results in the holder bent beyond future use, sometimes torn cellophane, andusually bent staples sticking out in a somewhat dangerous position. When removing a coin froma 2x2, be very careful that the coin does not contact any protruding staples, as thick scratcheswhich lessen the coins value can easily result.
  3. 3. FlipsThese are small see-through plastic holders, also usually sized two inches square when folded.Many flips have two separate spaces to hold coins, one on both sides when folded. This allowsthe collector or dealer to insert a small card or piece of paper describing the coin.Unlike 2x2s, flips are reusable and allow a collector to remove and replace a coin as many timesas he wishes. Although a little more expensive that 2x2s, they can be found in most of the sameplaces and are housed in the same way, and there is no need for different sized flips fordifferent-sized coins, as long as the coin fits. Even a Silver American Eagle will fit, somewhatsnugly to be sure, within a two inch flip.The danger with flips is that not all of them are designed to hold a coin forever. Many flipscontain a chemical known as Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, which will damage coins withprolonged exposure. In general, if you have a soft, flexible flip, it probably contains PVC, andwhile a harder, more brittle flip may not contain PVC, it is more likely to break with use. Ingeneral, flips are best used for temporary storage until you have a chance to find the coin amore permanent home.Hard PlasticHard plastic containers for coins can range from 2x2s that snap together to ornate displaypieces designed to show off an entire series of coins. In general, this kind of container does anexcellent job of preserving the coin, but they are usually quite expensive and often somewhatunwieldy to store. Recently, Coin World has begun offering hard plastic holders roughly thesame size as common slabs. These holders have received excellent reviews, and are a goodalternative for storing high quality uncertified coins.Coin TubesPlastic tubes sized specifically to hold a particular type of coin. These are not recommended forholding individual coins, but are terrific for holding coins in roll quantities.SlabsAll of the above storage methods apply to coins that are "raw" or uncertified, and the vastmajority of coins that most collectors will run across fit that description. Most of the coins thatHeritage sells and many other high quality coins have been graded and authenticated by PCGS,NGC, ANACS, or ICG, and as such have been encapsulated in "Slabs", hard plastic holders whichshow the coin, the grade of the coin, and the certification number.Slabs are designed for long term storage of coins and for reasons that should be fairly obviousare also designed not to be opened without destroying them. Because they are larger thanother coin holders and fairly common, it can be a problem to house them, so most of the
  4. 4. companies that encapsulate coins also provide plastic boxes to hold them. PCGS, NGC, and ICGslabs are all roughly the same size and will fit fairly well into a box produced by one of the othercompanies. ANACS slabs are smaller and will be loose if placed into a box provided for a largerslab, so they require their own box. Because ANACS slabs are only two inches wide, they canoften be housed along with 2x2s and flips if you dont mind the fact that theyre taller.Slabbing is, in and of itself, not a means of storing coins. It is a grading and certification processwhich should not be considered for inexpensive coins; after all, a ten cent coin in a twentydollar slab is still a ten cent coin.Along with storing individual coins, there is the question of where to store your collection.There is an age-old question about security vs. access in that coins, as valuables, need to besecure and protected against theft, but as a collector you will also want to look at them onoccasion. The Collectors Handbook, available here at, has a full chapter onthe topic, what some of the alternatives are, and how collectors have balanced being able totake a look at their coins and keeping them safe.Regardless of whether you choose to keep your coins at home or in a safety deposit box orsome other secure location, you need to take into account that the atmosphere itself may havesome effect on the coins. Try to keep your coins in a dry location, and if you live in a humidarea, keep some desiccant near your coins in order to keep them dry. Humidity has been knownto do savage things to coins!