Got coins? How to safely store and display your collection—with style!
A coin collection can be a dazzling and impressive sight! But only if you know how to care for them.
In a previous blog, we provided some tips to help you handle your coins.
In this blog, we take coin care a step further—by sharing how to properly store them and keep them safe…even if you want to bring them out on display from time to time!
First, why is coin storage so important?
If you want your coins to retain their value, keeping them stored safely is critical.
That’s because proper storage keeps your coins from being exposed to:
- Skin oils and dirt—which can damage the coin’s finish over time
- Air and/or air pollution—which can oxidize the metal and change its original colour(s)
- High humidity and temperature extremes—which can sometimes affect the surfaces of the coin
As such, it’s best to store coins so they are protected from the elements.
Many methods of coin storage
There are many, many different types of storage options for your collectible coins and coin collections.
Moreover, a lot of these options will also allow you to display and show off your coins!
So which media should you choose? It’s really up to you; however, you will probably want to invest more in safely storing uncirculated or numismatic coins (as opposed to circulated coins).
A general rule of thumb is this: only use products that are specifically intended for coins. Don’t rely on basic envelopes, plastic bags, empty prescription bottles, shoeboxes, dollar-store items or “getting organized” types of items.
Otherwise, you run the risk of contamination—and destroying the overall look and value of your coins.
Meanwhile, be aware that some options are for shorter-term storage than others—and may occasionally need replacing. So make sure to ask the vendor before you settle on the right option for you!
Here are just a few ways to store your coins:
AKA coin holders
- Generally, white cardboard with a clear Mylar pocket to let you view the coin
- Dimensions measure 2 inches by 2 inches (although a lot of other coin holders are this size as well)
- Pros: easy to write on the cardboard with pen or pencil; inexpensive; relatively safe for low-value coins
- Cons: dust from the cardboard may cause coin spotting; staples may scratch or leach chemicals onto coins; adhesive can possibly damage coins over time or wear out—causing holder to pop open
Acid-free paper sleeves
AKA coin sleeves, currency sleeves, coin envelopes
- Small envelopes that hold individual coins, with a fold-over (un-gummed) flap to hold the coin
- Pros: cheap storage method; safe for handling and protecting from fingerprints, dust and dirt
- Cons: Flap may not be enough to keep coin from slipping out of envelope
AKA coin holders, soft vinyl flips, PVC flips, safety flips
- Generally made of plastic
- Avoid soft vinyl flips if possible—remove it and place in another storage medium
- Pros: good for short-term storage of coins intended to be untouched; relatively inexpensive, easy to label
- Cons: not air-tight; flips containing PVC can decompose and damage coins; coins may slide around in flips, resulting in small scratches
Coin display boxes
AKA presentation boxes, presentation cases, display boxes, capsule boxes, slab boxes, coin drawers, coin tray cabinets, collection cases
- For showcasing your coins individually or in sets
- Available in a variety of materials: solid wood, leatherette, aluminum, velvet/velour, glass etc.
- May include more than one tier/trays (e.g., if it’s a drawer or “cabinet”-type box)
- May store/display coins in different encasings (e.g., slabs)
AKA coin albums (sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably)
- Pros: inexpensive; great option for beginners; handy for storing and organizing lower-value coins
- Cons: no real protection from fingers or physical harm; collectors are unable to see the other side of the coin, so not great option for display or showing off your coins; may contain chemicals that harm the coins’ metal
AKA coin folders (sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably)
- Includes “slides” that prevent coins from falling out of the pages
- Better option for expensive coins than a coin folder
- Pros: allow for two-sided viewing and display; often lack harmful chemicals
- Cons: one of the most expensive coin holders; require extra caution when removing the slides, to ensure you are not scratching the coins underneath
- Generally made of clear plastic
- Available in different sizes and shapes (round, as well as square)
- Pros: often are PVC-free; hold several same-size coins at one time
- Cons: unless you only store one coin in a tube, you cannot see both sides
AKA slabs, slab holders
- High-quality plastic, sonically sealed and specially constructed to store rare and expensive coin for extended periods of time
- Displays both sides of the certified coin, as well as certification information
- Pros: tamper-proof; prevents damage from physically coming in contact with the coin; does not emit gasses or chemicals
- Cons: not designed for easy removal; trying to remove the coin yourself may cause damage
Location, location, location
Once you’ve figured out how to store your coins, you need to determine the where.
That is, the location you will keep them.
You best bet is to store your coins in a dark, dry, temperature-controlled environment—and avoid keeping your coins in rooms that have:
- Extreme temperatures (such as basements or attics); and/or
- Rooms with oils and lots of moisture (like the kitchen).
Meanwhile, make sure to hide them away from the curious eyes and dirty fingers of children—and out of reach from pets. Be creative when it comes to finding a hiding spot. Think beyond closets and under the bed!
Considering a safe?
If your collection is quite valuable and you’re worried about burglars, you may eventually want to invest in a safe for home use. Ensure your safe is free of any chemicals that may damage your coins, and that it is securely bolted down.
Another option—albeit the most expensive—is a safety deposit box at a local bank. However, vaults are often very humid, so you will want to find solutions to help absorb water vapour (some experts suggest placing a silica gel pack inside your safety deposit box).
Cataloguing your collection in storage
As your collection grows and you continue storing them, it’s a good idea to create and maintain a list including:
- The type of coins
- Each storage solution for your coins
- Coin value
- Date and mintmark on the coin
- Other unique aspects of each coin’s appearance
- Dates that you removed the coin from storage, and what you did with the coin
You can create your “catalogue” using a notebook, spreadsheet, an app, or any other tracking device. (You may be wise to keep a backup copy as well.)
This list will not only help you keep track of what you have; it can also be handy:
- If you decide one day to sell all or part of your collection
- For keeping track of how long you’ve had certain coins in storage and help you determine if/when those storage media need replacing
- If you have an insurance policy on your coins and need to file a claim
Different ways to display your coins
Frames are a beautiful way to proudly display your coin or entire collection with style.
As mentioned above, though, it’s best to invest in products that are specifically made for coins—such as these floating frames, which care for the coin by enclosing it gently using flexible silicone membranes.
(Meanwhile, floating frames can also give your coins a cool 3D effect.)
Some people love to make jewelry out of coins. It makes sense: after all, coins have been used for jewelry for centuries!
There are many tutorials online for creating jewelry using coins—simply look to Pinterest or YouTube for unique ideas and step-by-step instructions.
One word of caution though: if you have a valuable coin, you may want to reconsider using it for jewelry (and exposing it to the elements) and/or drilling holes in it. Instead, consider using a coin of lower dollar value (but perhaps higher sentimental value).
While it’s not quite the same as seeing them in person, there are some apps out there that allow you to display your collection…virtually!
For example, the Royal Canadian Mint’s app lets you create an account populated with coins you have purchased. You can track your coins, keep an inventory, and show off your treasures without risking potential damage to them.
Learn more about coin collecting!
Want to further your knowledge about numismatics and coin collecting? Click here to read the Royal Canadian Mint’s “Beginner’s Guide to Collectible Coins.”