Early coin storage. What do you know?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by ldhair, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    We all see coins from the 1800s that must have had special care. No plastic holders, no heat and air. We see proofs with hardly a hairline on them. I know that most coins did not do as well but those that did make me wonder. Somehow they were protected.
    What do you know?
     
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  3. rickmp

    rickmp Frequently flatulent.

    Coin cabinets.
    coin cabinet.jpg coin cabinet 2.jpg
     
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  4. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    Yes, coin cabinets until the 1930s (?). Even so, the tiny hints of wear caused by picking them up and putting them back into the trays led to a term you sometimes see in auctions of 19th Century classics, "cabinet friction," not caused by wear in the marketplace, but by handling.
     
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  5. tommyc03

    tommyc03 Senior Member

    Many were also stored in paper with a high sulpher content, very bad for the coins. And even the more modern (at the time) plastics were horrendous as were some earlier albums. I can't imagine that the cloth, felt used in the cabinet storage did the coins much good either as it attracted moisture.
     
  6. onecenter

    onecenter Member

    That is a nice cabinet. When the prolific numismatic author Q. David Bowers uses the term "cabinet" in his publications, I can envision just such a storage system that looks like the one pictured. An old fashioned way to love and store coins.
     
  7. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    There were some nice cabinets used but there must be more to the story.
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    Here's another piece of the story. Who's seen Wayte Raymond boards? Or the old green Meghrig albums? More when I find images. Feel free to add your posts about these old classic holders, 1930s and 1940s.
     
  9. onecenter

    onecenter Member

    Unbelievable. If that were full of coins in would weigh a ton!
     
  10. doug5353

    doug5353 Well-Known Member

    Maybe not. Looks like about 50 trays, the key being how many compartments there are in a tray. Assume 40, that's 2,000 coins, ranging in weight from cents to double eagles (worst case), and with 2,000 double eagles at around 14 per pound, that's under 150 pounds. Just an estimate, folks...:woot:
     
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  11. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    Yeah. That's just unfortunate that with that wear they're no longer mint state. That is to say, in a condition-based system. In a market-based system, ah, well, I think we can overlook that one. After all, it's not circulation wear, as the coin has never been in circulation, so how can it be? No, this is a different kind of wear, it's uncirculation wear. If a coin has uncirculation wear, one must understand, it's still uncirculated, and that means it's still mint state. For the money, anyway... ;)
     
  12. Kirkuleez

    Kirkuleez 80 proof

    Dennis spent all of Mr. Wilson's coins from his cabinet in one episode. I don't really remember seeing any coins, but he had a cabinet similar to the one that Rick posted. I remember being mad at Dennis even though I was very young watching reruns.
     
  13. Kirkuleez

    Kirkuleez 80 proof

    Paul and Doug will be around shortly to debate this.
     
  14. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    Ah, please, no invitations. Troublemaker.
     
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  15. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    While there were those who did use coin cabinets, they were far from the norm. But rather shall we say, reserved for those who could afford them. And there were not many who could.

    To understand old coin storage methods one must first realize that back then, just like today, there were different categories of collectors. There were the collectors who would simply take their coins and toss them into a drawer in a dresser or hutch. Then there were those who would go a bit further and use the commonly found round tins with tight fitting lids (think of a cookie tin that you might have seen). Then they would progress to the next level, those would try to keep their coins individually. Far and away the most common method of coin storage for them was small, plain manila envelopes, or tissue paper. Which would then be kept in some other sort of container, perhaps even a tin. Lastly were the upper echelon of collectors, let's just call them the rich folks, the ones who could actually afford something like a coin cabinet. And that goes back well over a thousand years. And in some cases, almost 2000 years. Coin collecting was after all the hobby of Kings for many centuries.

    Now some might question this and ask something like - if that is so then how do we have so many untoned coins today ? Easy answer, they were dipped. Over 80% of all older coins have been dipped at least once in their lives, some of them several times. Or they might ask - how do we have so many coins without hairlines or other signs from these storage methods. Again, easy answer, we don't have so many. Yes we have some, just not very many. Storage in envelopes and tissue paper actually did a pretty good job of protecting the coins, they were just conducive to toning and dip took care of that.

    Now yes there were exceptions of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes coins were tossed into a clay pot or jar of some kind. Some were even buried. And depending upon things like soil conditions, local climate, and just plain luck, some coins fared well under these conditions. But for the most part things were as described above.

    And let us not forget "cleaning". For hundreds of years it was perfectly acceptable, even desirable, for a collector to "clean" his coins on a regular basis. And this was true across the board for all categories of collectors right on up to the very top level such as museums. Coins would routinely be taken out and wiped with a cloth or rag, maybe even washed. And it has only been in the last few decades, within my lifetime, that this practice has declined. But even today it is still practiced by some, even the museums.

    Once one understands all of this it becomes all too clear as to why there are so few coins that are actually in top condition.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
  16. rickmp

    rickmp Frequently flatulent.

  17. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes? Supporter

    Touring the palaces and museums in Vienna, I saw several very old cabinets, with velvet lined trays. The coins have been on display in these museums since they were minted, in these trays for hundreds of years. These were the personal collections of the dukes/kings/emperors.
     
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