The Care and Storing of Coins

How coins are stored and handled is very important as a small scratch or dent can drastically reduce a coin's value. However the good news is that coins are hardy and tough as they need to be to carry out their role. It is because of this that they have survived for hundreds and thousands of years until the present day.

Handling coins Hammered coins can and should be handled but with care. This is different advice to that given for some milled coins for which handling is best avoided. The coin should be held firmly by its edge and then examined. Don't drop it! A magnifying glass is a useful tool for seeing detail.

Cleaning coins Don't! This is the short and usually correct answer. Many coins have been ruined by cleaning. Polish is the worst of the lot as it removes the surface of the coin by abrasions. Having said all this some coins are discovered with residues caused by oxidation (especially copper and bronze). These can be removed with good effect but you need to know what you are doing. If in any doubt discuss this with either your local dealer (they know all the tricks!) or your local museum.

Storing Coins The ideal place to store coins is where is it dry and of constant temperature away from any chemicals that may react with the coins. They also should be stored in a place they cannot easily be stolen from! There are a number of different solutions.

Boxes These can be of plastic, steel or aluminium and come with a number of compartments or trays. The trays are usually lined with felt and are of different sizes for different coins. These are usually a good choice especially when starting a collection.

Cases Like boxes these come with multiple compartments and often have the added attraction of being lockable and portable.

Albums and Wallets We feel these are less useful for a hammered collection. They are often of plastic (which can over time react with the coins) and the coins can fall out. We think these are better suited if used for milled coins.

Cabinets These are usually made of wood and often are very beautiful pieces of furniture in their own right. There are both antique and modern cabinets available. The wood is of mahogany, walnut or rosewood (resinous wood like oak should be avoided). The cabinets usually have a lock. Often dealers may have a selection of old cabinets or there are still specialist cabinet makers about.

Plastic envelopes or capsules Plastic coin envelopes can be useful for short term storage and are often used to send coins by post. However in the long term we feel coins are better off in paper envelopes as coins can react over time to the plastic. It is important to ensure that any paper envelopes are acid free.

Safety This is a priority for any valuable coins. A safe or bank vault is important for any valuable collection as is adequate insurance. The real shame when hammered coins are stolen is that the thieves rarely appreciate the value of their hoard and priceless pieces of our history may be melted down and gone forever!



                              How best to hold a hammered coin


                                         Mahogany coin cabinet