Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Ruin Your Coin Collection

I came across several posts on the proper way to store and care for your coin collection- either to maintain as a collection or for eventual  trading. I believe the short and simple tips below which are commonly sourced from the net are a MUST to know for newbies in this craft. Think of coin collecting as an investment you should protect  so.....


1. Clean Coins

from coins.thefuntimesguide.com
Cleaning or polishing your coins will do more harm than good. Doing so can strip the coin of its toning which is a natural result of oxidation with the coin's exposure to air. Take note that toned coins are worth more than a cleaned or stripped ones. Cleaning also can result to a coin's lost of any remaining mint luster making the coin appear harsh and unappealing with microscopic abrasions- all of which can lower its grade.

But, if you really must clean them (for freshly dug-up detector find coins for example) , clean coins safely.

2. Touch Coins- with your Bare Hands.

Our fingers contain oils, acids and microscopic dirt that can adhere to the coins which can cause discoloration, stains or gross and/or microscopic scratches. Coin contact with your bare fingers can cause the damages mentioned especially for higher grade coins, mint state and proof coins .  DO: Wear cotton or latex gloves when handling coins which should be held only by the edges.

3. Spit on Coins

This can be directly spitting on it in an attempt to clean it but can also be indirectly through bits of saliva  when you chat while handling coins.Saliva contains many enzymes that can cause difficult to remove spotting and discolorations which can easily ruin your precious uncirculated and mint-state coins .

4. Break Their Holders

Never remove coins from coin holders or coins that have been slabbed. Mint set and proof set coins will greatly decrease in value once removed from the mint-issued holders they come in. Coin holders with the box and literature (if any) are considered a "set" which should be kept intact and pristine. Slabbed coins are worth a premium in their protective cases.

5. Expose Them to Acid

Cardboard coin holders
Slab Coin holder

Acid in this context is not the liquid chemical itself found in cleaning solutions but from what appears to be innocuous coin storage materials such as paper based containers (envelopes, paper wrapping materials, cardboard  boxes, paper labels, etc.) and certain coin plastic containers (PVC-based plastic flips , holders,boxes). Common paper materials are acidic by nature and  acid by products of plastics can be released around your coin over time. Same as the cleaning materials, acid from paper can cause coin spotting, discoloration, degradation of coin surfaces and can promote oxidation (toning). Coins stored in food-grade plastic containers or in soft, pliable coin flips will eventually develop a slimy green coating on their surfaces which can damage them permanently. It is recommended that only acid free paper and plastic supplies should be used in coin collection.

6. Expose Them to the Elements

Coins stored in the attic or basement can expose them to extremes of temperature and humidity that will promote their oxidation. This impacts not only the coin itself but will also hasten the  breakdown of the storage storage materials mentioned above (flips, paper and cardboard, plastic containers, etc.). To best protect your collection it should be stored in a dark, dry, temperature controlled environment such as a safe deposit box or specialized coin cabinet..
safe deposit box or specialized coin cabinet
from coincommunity.com

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