Everything you need/wanted to know about coin and currency storage (almost)

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Daggarjon, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    Over the years i have been on this forum, there have been numerous questions as to which way, what product, or just plain how to store coins and currency. With this thread i hope to answer alot of these very questions. Please keep in mind, the information below is mostly 'NOT' my opinion, but rather industry experts whose very careers are based on the protection of numismatic material. I have tried to be as thurough as possible with this as i understand just how important selecting the right product is. What i will attempt to do, is to answer questions about what materials are considered safe for long term 'Archive' storage. What i will not do is advise what products to buy (even though some products are mentioned by name, does not mean i am endorsing that product). I would like to help new and old collectors alike become educated as to which materials are better suited, while helping them make their own choices as to which products to buy, or not buy.

    I would first like to provide this link (alos included in the text below) that has proved invaluable in this research. Library Of Congress This page is for information to which materials the LOC considers 'safe' to use for long term storage. I dont think this was meant as 'all inclusive', but rather what materials they are advising now that Dupont no longer makes Mylar.

    I would like to explain to everyone what Mylar is. Mylar IS the Dupont company 'trade' name for polyethylene terephthalate. Look at is this way, Kleenex is the 'trade' or brand name by a company for a certain product. If another company makes a similar pruduct, its cannot be called 'Kleenex', although some will still call it so. In the emails below, i campared it to the square/rectangle comparrison. If it helps to look at it this way ... All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. All Mylar is polyethylene terephthalate, but not all products made from polyethylene terephthalate is Mylar. The brand name of Mylar, made by Dupont is 'NO longer' made. Dupont makes similar products, but not under the Mylar brand name. So any product out there selling an item they say is made from 'Mylar' is possibly mistakingly calling their polyethylene terephthalate product as Mylar. Not a big deal, as long as the product IS polyethylene terephthalate (this is now a pet peve of mine)

    What follows below is a conversation i had via Email with Susan Maltby. She is Conservator, Maltby & Associates Inc., and Adjunct Faculty, Museum Studies Programme/FIS at the University of Toronto. Many of you may also know her from Coin World as a contributing columnist. In my conversation with here, she proved to be very knowledgable, friendly, and more then willing to help others learn.

    My Original Email
    Susan's response
    For anyone interested in learnign more about the Beilstein Test or Oddy Test , just click the links. The two sites provided go to great lengths discussing the tests, and should leave you with a full understanding of how they are performed. The Beilstein test will help many collectors correctly tell if the product thyey bought is indeed what they thought it was.

    My response, with many additional questions
    Once again Susan responds with answers to my many questions
    Once again, her response, although bursting with information, left me with additional questions
    I asked about the heat sealing, because i knew some people practiced this. I was unsure if it hurt, helped, or made no difference. I think Susan answered sufficiently.

    And Susan's final email before i had to leave for a weekend trip.
    I want to go on record once again, to Thank Susan for taking her time to answer what may seem like very simple questions to her.

    Thank you Susan!!!

    How to use the above information to safekeep your coins?

    The best environment to store a collection is dark and dry with low humidity and low dust levels. For storage, there are 'alot' of options. Each option has its own collector preferences and its own pros/cons. You might try using 2x2's, a 2" square cardboard holder with clear windows, to house your coins. There are also 2x2 clear plastic flips, 2x2 paper envelopes and clear polyethylene slips 2x3, etc that can be used for short term storage. These can then be stored in plastic pages suitable for a notebook or stored in a row in an aluminum foil box which is also about 2 inches wide.

    Choices in coin holders include but aren't limited to the following, in 'NO' particular order:

    * 2x2s. Consists of white cardboard with clear Mylar pocket to allow viewing of coin. Can attribute and describe coins on cardboard with pen or pencil. Called 2x2s because holder's dimensions measure 2 inches by 2 inches, though most coin holders are this size as well. (In Europe larger sizes are available along with plastic shells into which you place the cardboard holder.)

    Paper dust from cardboard can cause spotting over time, though some holders advertise that they're dust free. Staples on the staple-type 2x2's can scratch coins if you're not careful when removing them. Glue on glue-type 2x2s may damage coins over time from glue vapors. Somewhat chintzy looking but inexpensive and relatively safe.

    * Safety flips. All-plastic two-part holder -- you flip up part holding coin to view coin's reverse. Can choose flips with one pocket (for coin) or two pockets (for coin and for paper insert on which you can attribute and describe coin, optionally using computer). Called "safety flips" because safe for long-term coin storage.

    Two kinds: generic safety flips and Kointain type Saflips. Generic safety flips made from low-plasticizer PVC. Often mistakenly called non-PVC flips, PVC-free flips, or unplasticized flips. Much safer than PVC flips for long-term coin storage because of low levels of plasticizers, but not completely safe. Can view edge of the coin. Hard edges may scratch coins when inserting and removing if you're not careful. May crack with repeated opening and closing, forcing you to replace the holder. May turn pale color over time, also forcing you to replace them. Shouldn't be used with proof coins because they can outgas small quantities of hydrogen chloride gas (hydrochloric acid), which can cause microscopic pitting, leading to hazing. Generic safety flips relatively inexpensive.

    Generic safety flips include: Super Safe brand, made from Polypropylene, (sometimes called Madison coin flips -- made by Frame-A-Coin of Madison, NJ) available at many coin shows and through many online sellers. Come in sheets -- you tear off individual flips. Generic safety flips (made by International Plastics of Altadena, CA) are Thicker and sturdier (they make nice mini-coin stands) than Super Safe flips but crack more easily and not as good for largest coins. Some other sellers of flips sell generic safety flips that they buy from various manufacturers in China. Always be carefull of the material flips are made from. If the seller does NOT say, another seller will.

    Kointain Saflips are made from polyethylene terephthalate, a type of 'Polyester' and commonly, and mistakingly, called Mylar. Polyester is safer over the very long term than low-plasticizer vinyl. Also, not as prone to cracking. Horizontal striations, however, can be unsightly and may interfere with viewing of coin inside. Sharp corners. More expensive than generic safety flips.

    * Flips (also called soft vinyl flips). Consist of PVC (polyvinylchloride, also known as vinyl), stabilizers (to prolong life), and plasticizers (to soften the plastic). Plasticizers can damage coins over time (causes "PVC damage," which looks like green goo), with damage occurring faster when flips are exposed to heat, humidity, or sunlight. Soft vinyl flips are used by sellers and in submitting coins to grading services because they make it easy to insert and remove coins and because they're inexpensive. Coins bought in soft vinyl flips should be removed and placed in other storage media.

    * Air-Tite holders. Acrylic and polyethylene (should NOT be confused with polyethylene terephthalate). Safe for long-term storage. Larger than standard 2x2 format (2-3/4 x 2-3/4 with display card). Can be Expensive. http://www.airtiteholders.com.

    * Intercept Shield holders. Made with material that's designed to intercept and neutralize sulfur and other contaminants, preventing toning. Can be difficult to place coins inside flexible gasket. Expensive. Can buy separate Intercept Shield boxes to use with other 2x2-size holders or with slabs. http://www.interceptshield.com/products.html.

    * CoinEdge holders (formerly called CoinSafe). All plastic -- Polyester, remmember polyester does not mean Mylar, or polyethylene terephthalate. Safe for long-term storage. Can view edge of the coin. Chintzy look and feel. http://www.coinedge.com.

    * Whitman (or Gallery) holders. All plastic (polystyrene). Safe for long-term storage. Coins slide and bang around inside, potentially causing damage. Inexpensive.

    * Eagle holders. Polystyrene encasing with Polyester (polyethylene terephthalate) windows. Safe for long-term storage. Time consuming to insert coins. Small coins don't always remain in position within holder. Large coins can cause the holder to pop open. http://www.eaglecoinholders.com.

    * Capital holders. Plastic (Lucite) holder that you screw shut. Inserting and removing coins can be labor intensive. Coins can slide or bang around inside, potentially causing damage. Expensive. http://www.capitalplastics.com/coins.

    * Kointain holders. Round shell that fits snugly around coin. Non-PVC plastic and safe for long-term storage. Can be used alone or inside other holders or albums.

    Other coin storage options include slabs, slab-like holders, coin albums, coin folders, paper envelopes, poly bags, coin cabinets, coin cases, coin frames, coin tubes ... and pockets and purses.

    Because of forums post length restrictions, Part 2 is below.
    Abcrider and Peter T Davis like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    OK, so now there is a basic understanding of the types of holders for coins. The above list is NOT meant to be all inclusive, only meant to give a glimpse of the more popular methods, but more importantly to give an idea of what materials are better, good, bad or worse. Polyester, or polyethylene terephthalate, is THE preffered method for long term archive quality storage. Other materials that are good would be polystyrene. The worst material would be PVC or Vinyl, even 'low plasticizer PVC' is not safe. Low Plasticizer stil has plasticizer, and should not be used.

    Keep in mind, you should always buy the best you can afford for what you are collecting. Vinyl flips are some of the cheapest flips you can find. But they can damage your coins. Intercept Shield holders are some of the most expensive. No matter the value of your collection, never use vinyl or PVc flips. For any of the other types of holders, keep in mind that you should buy the best you can afford.

    So now lets look at how to care for your collection...
    The below text provided with help from the 'Canadian Conservation Institute' website. Coins and medals are popular items to collect. Often there are family histories and anecdotes connected to these objects. Because of their small size, coins and medals are easy to store without requiring too much space.

    Traditionally, coins have been made from three metals and their alloys: gold, silver and copper. The alloys vary: silver or copper in gold coins; copper in silver ones; and tin or zinc in copper coins. This last group is often referred to as "bronzes." In recent years, additional metals — iron, aluminum and copper-nickel alloys — have been used in coin production.

    Causes of Damage
    All coins and medals (except relatively pure gold) are likely to show some deterioration over time, especially if stored in damp or polluted conditions. Dampness is especially damaging for iron and for coins that have been buried because it encourages corrosion. Sometimes, the corrosion products on the metal surface will contain salts absorbed from the soil that allow corrosion of any remaining metal to continue if moisture is present.

    The accumulation of chloride ions on archaeological coins made of copper or its alloys can result in a condition called "bronze disease." Bright powdery green spots appear on the surface. If this corrosion process is not corrected, it can destroy the coin. Such corrosion problems should be treated by a conservator.

    Pollution also damages coins and medals. Many materials used in manufacturing everyday objects, including furniture, emit organic acids into the air. These organic acids cause zinc and lead to corrode, resulting in a covering of white crystals. This corrosion is difficult to stop unless the source of the organic acids is removed.

    Copper and silver will tarnish in reaction with hydrogen sulphide, a pollutant given off by decaying animal matter (which is naturally present in the atmosphere). However, some paints, textiles and other household materials also emit some sulphur-containing organic compounds and these also cause copper and silver to tarnish.

    Light can damage the ribbons that are attached to medals. Silk is especially prone to fading.

    Handling and Storage
    It is best to handle coins and medals by their edges and, if possible, to wear cotton or polyethylene gloves (not latex). Gloves protect the metal from the corrosive oils and acids found on our hands. This is particularly important with proof coins, which have a mirror-like surface, because any mark on them can disfigure the coin and lessen its value.

    Coins are best stored individually in coin holders called "flips" made of Mylar, a stable plastic. These holders have two pockets: one for the coin and one that can hold a piece of paper where you can write information about the coin. They come in a variety of sizes.

    Somewhat more commonly available are cardboard holders lined with Mylar. These have a circle cut out in the middle that is covered with Mylar. The coin is placed on the Mylar "window" and the other half of the cardboard holder is folded over and stapled on three sides. Both sides of the coin are then visible through the Mylar. Be careful to flatten the staples against the card so that they do not scratch other coins they might come into contact with. Although the cardboard is not acid-free, it does not come into contact with the coin's surface. For the majority of coins, this kind of holder is fine.

    Avoid flips and other kinds of holders made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) because they can lead to corrosion of coins over the long term. Coin albums are not recommended because it can be awkward to remove coins from the pockets (they are usually open at the top, increasing the likelihood of coins slipping out when the album is open).

    Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to store coins or medals is in individual polyethylene zip-lock bags. These are inexpensive and available at your grocery store. They protect coins or medals from scratches and from sulphur-containing compounds in the air that can cause tarnish. Many medals come with their own presentation cases. These are an important part of the object's history and value and, although the medal should not be stored in the presentation box, they should be kept together. Medals can also be stored in Polyester flips or holders. If you have medals without cases, you may want to consider using clear polystyrene boxes (available at plastic supply houses). These are affordable and provide good protection. Use a soft, nonabrasive packing material such as acid-free tissue or Microfoam (an uncrosslinked polypropylene) to line the box.

    Wooden coin cabinets (especially oak) are not recommended for storing either coins or medals. They can emit acidic vapours that will cause corrosion. Instead, use metal storage cabinets (preferably with a powder coating) or containers made of either polyethylene or polystyrene.

    Cleaning and Repair
    Most numismatists advise against cleaning coins. They often have patinas, toning and tarnish that can develop on the surface of a coin over time. Certain kinds of light tarnishing, called toning, are considered part of a coin's value. In the case of proof coins, it is very difficult to do anything that will not hurt the coin.

    Removing surface dirt from a coin is about the only cleaning that should be done. When handling or cleaning coins, you should wear cotton or polyethylene gloves (not latex). To remove surface dirt, wash the coin in lukewarm distilled water with a mild liquid soap. Do not scrub the surface. To rinse, use a cotton swab dipped in distilled water. Regular tap water contains chlorine, which can leave chloride on the surface of the coin that eventually leads to corrosion. After cleaning, use another cotton swab and acetone to remove any grease (this is called degreasing) that may remain on the surface. Because of its toxicity, acetone should only be used in a well-ventilated area. Allow coins to air dry on a paper towel.

    Coin dips or metal cleaners (cloths, liquids or pastes) are not recommended. The dips contain acids that can cause corrosion if any remains on the surface. Most metal cleaners contain abrasives that can scratch the coin.Be careful with dipping a coin, if not done correctly, you will damage your coin.

    The approach to medals is slightly different. It is desirable to maintain the bright surfaces of silver medals, but care needs to be taken with the ribbons that are attached to them. It is advisable to wear cotton or polyethylene gloves (not latex) when handling medals. For surface dirt, use a cotton swab to apply a mild liquid soap to the surface. Rub gently to remove dirt and rinse well in distilled water. Let the medal air dry on a paper towel. Silver medals with light tarnish and bronze medals can be cleaned by rubbing a piece of soft cloth gently and evenly over the surface. After cleaning, degrease the surface of the medal using a cotton swab and acetone. Let the medal air dry on a paper towel.

    Lightly tarnished silver medals can also be cleaned with a dip cleaner. First remove the ribbon from the medal and then apply the dip solution to the surface of the medal with a cotton swab (do not immerse the medal in the dip). Rinse — first in running tap water and then in distilled water. Degrease the surface using another cotton swab and acetone. Allow the medal to air dry on a paper towel.

    Many coins and medals have protective coatings of either lacquer or wax to protect them from handling and environmental factors. Lacquering should be done by a specialist because, if applied improperly, it cannot only be unattractive but also can lead to corrosion.

    Wax coatings are easier to apply and remove than are lacquers, but they provide less protection. To prepare a wax coating, mix equal parts of a good-quality paste floor wax and odourless mineral spirits (a solvent). Apply the mixture to the medal's surface with a soft cloth. Use a hair dryer to heat the wax so that it melts into all the surface recesses. Then, wait until the solvent evaporates and buff the surface lightly with a soft cloth. Wax coatings can be removed easily by applying a solvent (odourless mineral spirits). Any attempt to alter, or protect a coin in this fashion, can easily permanately damage your coin. Such practices should ONLY be performed by a proffessional.

    I realize, not everyone was as 'unknowing' as i was about all the different products and materials. While i was getting more confused and frustrated with each product i looked into, because each and every product says its is 'safe' for long term storage; Some of you just 'knew' which products to use. For the rest of us who needs this type of info to help us make educated choices on which product to use, i do hope this thread will help. You of course can always ask questions if you need help. Please keep in mind, i am by far NO expert in this subject. This is exactly why i sought help from people like Susan. They are the experts. I just tried to tap into their knowledge to help protect my collection. In sharing this info, i hope you can protect yours as well.
    Abcrider likes this.
  4. Just Carl

    Just Carl Numismatist

    Problem, although highly informative, it is just a post and in the near future will move to page 2, then 3, then 4, etc. and soon be lost.
    Again, although extreamely important facts, I'm not sure the majority of individuals will actually read the entire post due to length. And due to terminology, the majority of people have little idea of the exact meaning or implications although you did sum it up at the end.
    Not to say this is not extreamely important, but as I mentioned it will soon be lost as new posts are added.
    I suggest you should contact the moderators and request a stickey type for the topic if you expect it to last. Otherwise a lot of your research and time is just lost.
  5. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    i agree, it is very long, but most of it is very important. I could have cut out some of the email conversation, but i thought it went into the why's and hows some methods or materials werent safe or which ones were. For the folks who allready know what to use, then i wouldnt expect them to read it all. The post was more for the folks, like me, who had way more questions then answers.

    Also, i my opinion, its kind of a bit presumptious for 'me' to request a post i made be made sticky :) if the mods and/or other memeber request it of the mods, i think that would carry more weight.

    Thanks for the comment though :)
  6. Dollar1948

    Dollar1948 New Member

    Im @ work right now, and I may get read the riot act for trying to read all that on company time.
    Let's cut to the chase.
    Which is the best method of long term storage..Im sure airtights are boss, but what follows that?
  7. De Orc

    De Orc Well-Known Member

    Very informative mate, thanks for sharing it with us and I do hope that people take the time to read it and if need be ask questions about anything they do not understand :)
  8. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    Actually, I dontthink there is 1 clear winner. There are several products that do a great job. I love that the coin edge holders passed the Oddy test. But i dont like how flimsy they are. If they were as solid as a slab type thing, then i would love them more. Airtights, as you mentioned, are a good route as well.

    Basicaly, the type of product you choose is entirely up to your prefferance. The material is more important. As long as you choose the right material, most any product that uses that material is safe to be used.

    To quote Susan once again...
    I understand the original post is long, and i might not recommend reading it at work. But i would recommend reading it :) I do hope this answered you question. If not feel free to ask again :D
  9. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    storage and conservation and the key element of any collection
  10. the_man12

    the_man12 Amateur Photographer

    Very good post! Thanks daggarjon!
  11. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    Storage Yes, but conservation? Not sure i would want to do anything to try to alter, or repair what might be deemed as 'broken'. or did i misunderstand you on that?

    Thank you the_man12 :) appreciate it!!
  12. Dollar1948

    Dollar1948 New Member

    Thanks Dagger, and 2 thumbs up to you for you informative research, and dilegence.
  13. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    Many thanks Dollar1948 :) Glad you were able to find the time to read it :) it can be a good read to help with insomnia :D but in the end, i hope it helps answer questions about whats safe and what isnt :)
  14. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    Ok, so i went looking for a plce to by the 2x2 saflips ... it seems most folks are out of them. Ebay has some for sale, but if you look at the label on the front of the package, and compare it to the front of the 'official' package... i do believe the ebay packages i looked at are fakes.... weird.

    anyhoot, i went looking for a place to buy the 2x2's. My normal place, wizardsupply was out of the 2x2. They were selling them for 5.49 for a packet of 50. Most other places really rake you hard over the coals on price. I have seen packs of 50 selling for over $10.00. Thats crazy talk!

    So i explored around a bit, and found this weebiste, that sells 100 saflips, PLUS the acid free inserts PLUS a storage box... and get this... all for ONLY 9.99. Now thats crazy talk too right? but the good kind lol

    Now i only hope they dont ship the fake packages :D But looking at what they have displayed on the webpages, the packages look legit. So i got 300 flips, 300 acid free inserts, and 3 storage bozes, all for $38 shipped.

    So, if you use Saflips, and the price you pay is higher then $4.99 per 50 ... go to this website. It is by far the cheapest i have seen a pack of 50 sell for :)
  15. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder

    My only concern would be that the red boxes would emit sulfur compounds unless they are buffered (acid free). I have been putting my coins in the 'safe' flips into the intercept shield 2x2 boxes.
  16. mgChevelle

    mgChevelle AMERICAN

    great post, thanks
  17. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Yes - and it is a most important subject
  18. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    That is a very valid concern! I wont use the boxes for that reason, however, the price i paid was far less the most other places on the net :) so even though i wont use the boxes, i did save alot of money over buying the flips elsewhere!

    I do have an issued with the flips however! They seem all to thin, weak and flimsy! I am going to buy them from another source, just to see if maybe i got a bad batch.
  19. zekeguzz

    zekeguzz lmc freak

    Excellent, excellant article and post. I posted what I do for long term storage previously in another part of this forum. I use the " Food Saver " polypropylene vacuum system. Cut the sheets to any size coin plus enough left for the machine to suck out/extract all gases and heat seal the edges. Vacuuming and heat sealing take place at the same time therefore most if not all of the gases from the polypropylene are extracted too. POLYPROPYLENE products are used in clean rooms of semiconductor manufacturers and gases are checked for in parts per million.
    The one drawback to what I do is that only one side of the coin/s is clearly veiwed. The othe side is mottled by the diamond pattern of the pollyP. THIS IS ON THE OUTSIDE NOT TOUCHING THE COIN therefore causing no imbedding of the pattern into the coin. After sealing a soft material can be used to prevent any physical damage. Just my method. No flips ,no paper ,no nottin'.Thanks for reading.
  20. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Tissue paper? That is acidic.

  21. Daggarjon

    Daggarjon Supporter**

    who mentioned tissue paper?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page