To maintain the quality and value of a coin collection, it is important to care for the coins properly. Improper cleaning or storage can result in damage to the coin’s surface, which significantly decreases its value and can even impact its appearance. To ensure the beauty and longevity of every coin in a collection, use the right cleaning techniques and store the coins in the right containers.
To retain the value and aesthetic of your coin collection, proper care and storing are essential.
Tools to help you organize and care for your collection include:
Hold a coin by its edges, and over a soft towel or other soft surface, between a thumb and forefinger. Additionally, wearing soft cotton gloves protect the coin’s surface from fingerprints and the natural oils on your skin, which can be corrosive.
While you may be tempted to polish your coins to make them look shiny and new, proceed with caution. Polishing and/or cleaning coins can reduce their value. Older coins that show deep age coloration are more desirable than coins whose surfaces have been stripped away by improper polishing or cleaning.
If you do polish a coin to remove dirt, use mild soap and water. Once you’ve washed the coin, pat it dry with a soft towel. Brushing or rubbing can scratch a coin’s delicate surface.
Keep coins cool and dry
Sharp changes in temperature and moisture promote tarnish and spots that devalue coins. Avoid talking directly over coins; tiny droplets of saliva can create spots on a coin. Just like fingerprints, these marks are difficult to remove.
Use original holders
All modern proof sets and commemoratives should be bought and sold in original cases and capsules. Tip: When inserting or removing a coin, “bow” the packaging by pressing opposite sides inward to avoid scratching the coin. Additionally, avoid soft plastic holders that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical that softens plastics. PVC can eventually coat a valuable coin with sticky green slime, which eats into the coin’s surface.
A certificate of authenticity and an information card accompany uncirculated and commemorative sets.
Keep them safe
A safe-deposit box at a bank is ideal. If you have a home collection, ensure that your home insurance covers full replacement costs.
Generally speaking, uncirculated coins should never be cleaned. The abrasive chemicals of cleaning products can discolor a coin, and the wiping or polishing process leaves tiny scratches on a coin’s surface. Beginners, who may start their collections with circulated coins, often find that their acquisitions appear grimy or dull. Since circulated coins are often damaged anyway, it is acceptable to clean them gently:
During the cleaning process, it is important to handle coins one at a time, so that they do not come in contact with one another. Additionally, removing oxidation from a coin can actually decrease its value. Known as toning, this change in coloration is part of a coin’s natural aging. To protect toning, no dips, polishes, or chemical solutions should be used on a coin.
Once coins are cleaned, they should be handled only by the edges, to protect against finger smudges. Storage containers for collectible coins should be chosen carefully, as chemicals in the storage containers can also damage or discolor coins. There are several options for coin storage:
With the right care, coins will maintain their value and appearance indefinitely. Maintain their beauty with proper coin cleaning and storage.
This information is provided for general reference purposes and does not constitute professional advice. For detailed coin collecting or investing information, please consult with a professional expert.