Before getting started with a coin collection, you should research and see which storage method will work best for your collection and budget. Fortunately, you have many options; each has advantages and disadvantages. If you have a local coin shop, they may be able to help you make your decision.
First, you need to decide where you will store your coins. Excessive heat, cold, or moisture may damage coins. When you’re starting your collection, it’s fine to keep it in your bedroom: coins respond well to the same basic conditions that humans do. When your collection gets more expansive, you may want to consider a safety deposit box. Avoid storing coins in attics or basements; it’s also inadvisable to store them in a freezer, as some have recommended, as this is now one of the first places thieves look when robbing a home. Along these same lines, be careful if you decide to talk to anyone about where you keep your collection; thieves have been known to stalk collectors to gain access to a collection.
Once you’ve decided where to store your collection, it’s time to think about individual coins. The first rule is always to use supplies specifically designed for coins. Many non-coin items have chemical or other properties that can severely affect the value of your coins; items made for coin-collecting will be formulated to avoid this. If your storage system contains plastic with PVC, you will want to change it immediately, as PVC has a very negative effect on coins. Once you’ve moved your collection to a more stable system, dispose of the plastic entirely, as even fumes from it can seep into your collection.
You can use plastic or paper coin flips for a short time, but they are not airtight, so it’s recommended not to store in these flimsy items for long. If you’ve got a lot of coins of a certain type that aren’t your most valuable, you can keep them in hard plastic coin tubes. These are inexpensive and offer good protection for your coins. Remember, a good coin is an investment, so it’s worth the cost and effort to protect them.
Cardboard holders with Mylar windows are another solution. If you choose this method, make sure to staple the holders very carefully, being sure not to get the staples too close to the coin. It’s best to use stainless steel staples, to avoid the danger of rust.
Coin boards and folders are a good option for circulated coins that have some wear on them, but it’s not recommended to use them for proof or uncirculated coins, as coins can receive light damage in these holders. Album pages allow you to see both sides of a coin, but coin movement in the plastic can cause scratches; again, these are fine for circulated coins, but do not use them for proof or uncirculated coins. Some albums are specially designed to hold coins inert, and these are acceptable for proof and uncirculated coins.
The best coin protection is a hard case known as a slab, but this can be an expensive process, so it may be best to reserve this only for your prized coins that may suffer damage in another storage system. Coins are slabbed after being professionally graded by a third party not involved in buying or selling the coin; this helps to assure the buyer that the grade is accurate, and that the coin has not deteriorated after the grading. You can send coins to professional services to be graded and slabbed, for a fee. This process is also referred to as “encapsulation.” Both PCGS and NGC offer industry-standard third-party grading and encapsulation services.
Avoid storing coins in bags, or in paper or soft plastic tubes. These are likely to allow damage to your coins, without offering any protection from the environment. Never store any coin in aluminum foil: moisture in the air can react with the cheap metal and cause corrosion, damaging a coin beyond repair.
Use gloves when handling a coin, and only touch the edges; this will prevent any oils in your fingers from being transferred to the coin and tarnishing it. If your coin came in a holder, keep it in that holder, unless it is unsafe or not adequately protecting the coin.