How To Care for a Coin Collection

Collecting coins is a wonderful hobby for both the young and old.  A numismatist is the formal term for a coin collector.  For serious collectors, this hobby can be of great historical as well as archaeological importance.  Very old and rare coins are windows to eras gone by.  Serious coin collectors have a gold mine when it comes to the financial value of their most precious and rarest coins.

Since coin collecting is a big investment, it is important to take good care of your coin collection. 

Proper storage.  Keep your coins in specially made coin albums with individual plastic pockets.  Store only one coin in each pocket so the coins do not scratch against each other.   You can also keep your coins in special coin boards and boxes or in envelopes.  Keep your collection in a cool dry place away from the elements.

Coin handling.  Use a soft cloth and gloves when handling coins.  If possible, use gloves made of soft material.  The gloves will protect your coins from any dirt and grease present in your hands.  If you don’t have gloves, wash and dry your hands thoroughly.  Only hold the coins along the rim with your thumb and forefinger.  Protect them from scratches by placing them on top of a soft cloth or mat in case you need to bring them out of storage.  The less you handle the coins, the better.

Coin cleaning. Cleaning coins are actually a no-no for serious coin collectors.  Coins are not normally cleaned as this may affect its value as well as damage the coin’s surface.  If you think it should really be cleaned, better consult a professional coil dealer for the proper tools, supplies and methods used in cleaning coins.

Normally, coins can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, ammonia, a paste of baking soda and water or with acids like vinegar and lemon juice.  Coins are soaked in a container with any of these products.  When the dirt lifts off the coin, take it out of the liquid.  Pat the coins dry with a clean, soft cloth.  Never use a brush and avoid rubbing the coins.  You can also allow the coins to air-dry.  Do not polish your coin!  This can scratch the coin’s face and affect its value.

Other coin cleaning products.  Coins can accumulate dirt, encrustations and other coatings over the years.  This causes corrosion and pitting especially on copper coins.  There are coin cleaning and maintenance products sold by coin dealers.  Follow the manufacturer’s specific directions strictly in cleaning your coins.  The cleaning product and method you use should always depend on the type of coins (gold, silver, copper, etc.) you own.

Never use cleaners or strong household soaps.  There are chemicals in these items that tarnish or corrode the coins.  Sulfuric acid is bad for copper coins so make sure the cleaning product you use for this type of coin is sulfuric acid free.
There are a number of reasons why enthusiasts collect coins.  Some are attracted by the monetary value of rare and old coins.  Others simply want to hold on to something from the past.  Whatever your reasons are for becoming a numismatist, make sure to treat your coins right.  Protect and care for your coins properly to keep both its financial and historical value intact.


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