How to Store Coins
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Cardboard folders are the most inexpensive and common form of organizing and storing a collection. They can be purchased at many hobby shops and bookstores.
They provide a spot for each date and mintmark in a particular series, thus acting as a road map for the collector. They are also compact and convenient; they take up little space on a bookshelf and can be pulled down and opened for easy viewing.
The spots for the coins consist of holes in the cardboard sized specially for the particular series covered by the folder. They are meant to be a tight fit so the coins, once inserted, won’t fall out. Place the coin in the hole at an angle, so one side of the coin is in the hole. On the side of the coin sticking up, press down and toward the angled side until the coin snaps into place.
The process isn’t always graceful; thus, some of the basic rules for handling coins have to be suspended when working with folders. But folders are still suitable for storing coins plucked from circulation and getting started in coin collecting.
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Low to moderately priced coins offered for sale at shops and shows are usually stored in cardboard holders commonly called “2-by-2s” because they are 2 inches square.
They consist of two pieces with a clear Mylar window in the center. The coin is placed between the two pieces, which are then stapled together.
These 2-by-2 holders are also inexpensive. They are suitable for long-term storage and offer a number of advantages over the basic folder:
– The window in the holder allows both sides of the coin to be viewed.
– The entire coin is enclosed.
– The coin can be handled by the edges when being inserted into the holder.
As for disadvantages:
– Storing an entire collection of a particular series takes up more space.
– The coins can be viewed only one at a time.
– Caution should be used when inserting or removing coins from the holders to make sure the staples’ sharp edges don’t damage the coins.
– There is no road map to the series. A separate checklist is needed.
The 2-by-2 holders can be stored in long, narrow boxes specially sized to hold them. They can also be inserted into pockets in a plastic page, which can then be inserted into a three-ring binder.
Originally the plastic pages contained polyvinylchloride, which produced a soft, flexible pocket. But the substance breaks down over time, resulting in a green slime that could contact the coins. Manufacturers then started substituting Mylar for the PVC. The Mylar does not break down, but the page containing it is more brittle and not as flexible.
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Similar in size to the cardboard 2-by-2s, plastic “flips,” to use the common vernacular, are another common storage method for coins for sale. They consist of a plastic pocket, into which the coin is inserted, with a flap that folds down over the pocket. Coin dealers will often staple the flap shut.
Flips offer many of the same advantages as the cardboard 2-by-2s:
– Although they cost more, flips are still inexpensive.
– The entire coin is enclosed.
– Both sides of the coin can be viewed.
– The coin can be handled by the edges when being inserted into the holder.
Also, they don’t have to be stapled shut, thus eliminating the possibility of the staples scratching the coin.
The big disadvantage to flips is their composition. They, too, originally contained polyvinylchloride. Manufacturers then started making flips containing Mylar, but the resulting product again is more brittle and not as flexible as the old PVC flips.
For long-term storage, it’s best to remove coins from flips and transfer them to another type of holder.
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Coin albums are a step up from the basic folder. They are in book form and contain a hole for each date and mintmark in the particular series covered. The hole has a clear plastic back and a clear plastic front. The plastic front slides out, and the coin can be placed in the hole. The plastic front is then slid back over the hole.
Albums combine many of the advantages of 2-by-2s and folders:
– They are compact and convenient and can be stored on a bookshelf.
– They are affordable.
– Both sides of the coin can be viewed.
– Their labeled holes act as a road map to a series.
– The entire coin is enclosed.
– The coin can be handled by the edges when being inserted.
The disadvantage to albums is that sliding the plastic front can damage a coin in the holder if the plastic rubs against the coin. Thus, albums are not recommended for expensive uncirculated coins.
Hard-plastic holders
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Hard-plastic holders are the top of the line in coin shortage but are still affordable. They consist of two pieces with one or more clear windows through which the coin can be viewed. The two pieces are held together with plastic screws or snap together.
To insert a coin into the holder, the two pieces are separated, and the coin is placed face up into the bottom piece. The top piece is then placed over the bottom piece, and the two pieces are screwed or snapped together again.
Some of the world’s great numismatic rarities are stored in hard-plastic holders. They offer all of the advantages of the less expensive storage methods but in a safe, inert environment.
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In 1986, a group of coin dealers got together and formed the Professional Coin Grading Service. For a fee, dealers and collectors could submit coins to the service and receive a professional opinion on their grades. After grading, a coin is encapsulated in an inert hard-plastic holder with a serial number and the service’s opinion on its grade indicated on the holder.
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The concept was successful, and several competing services were established in succeeding years. Today, most coins valuable enough to justify the grading fee have been graded by one of the services and encapsulated in its holder.
The grading-service holders are common at coin shows and shops and acquired the nickname “slabs.” The holders are suitable for long-term storage of high-end collectible coins.