By Stephanie Hyland, Storage.com
Coin collectors spend a lot of time and money growing their coin collection over the years, so it’s important to take certain precautions when preparing to store a collection in a self storage unit—such as using acid-free packing products, handling coins with gloves, investing in climate-controlled storage, and having your collection insured.
Invest in an Acid-Free Container and Paper
When preparing your coin collection for storage, you can’t just put it in a standard cardboard box with some newspaper. In fact, when paper that’s not acid-free breaks down, it releases chemicals that can cause discoloration, spotting, and even oxidation, all of which can damage your collection and diminish its value.
“Whatever storage method a collector chooses, the container should be acid-free,” says Rod Gillis, numismatic educator with American Numismatic Association. “You want a container that stays dry and keeps out humidity. Safes are usually a good idea. A safe that’s fire-retardant is best.”
Steve Roach, editor-in-chief for Coin World, the world’s largest coin hobby publication, agrees with Gillis, saying that it’s important to invest in an archival-quality case for your collection before putting it into self storage.
“The collectibles themselves should also be housed in holders that are archival-quality, free of composition that will break down over time and possibly damage and lower the value of [the items],” Roach adds.
Handle Your Collection With Gloves
Even if you just washed your hands, touching rare coins with bare hands while prepping them for storage is never a good idea.
“Coins shouldn’t be handled with bare hands, as the oils in your skin will remain on the coin and cause corrosion,” says Ken Westover, senior coin buyer at Littleton Coin Company, one of the nation’s leading retailers of coins, paper money, and collector supplies. “Depending on the elements on your hands at the time of handling and the conditions the coins are stored in, damage could either happen quickly or may not show up for a long period of time.”
That’s why Westover recommends always using gloves when handling coins. Some collector supplies, like collection albums sold by Littleton Coin, even include gloves for safe handling. But just because you have gloves doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be mindful of how you’re handling your coins.
“Regardless of whether you’re using gloves or not, it’s critical to always hold a coin by its edge. Never rest your fingers on the obverse or reverse of a coin,” adds Gillis.
Store Your Coins in Climate-Controlled Storage
“Coins should be kept as close to a constant temperature and humidity level as possible,” Gillis explains, adding that too much exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity can start the oxidation process, which ruins the metals.
According to Gillis, copper and silver in particular are susceptible to tarnishing caused by temperature and humidity fluctuations. “While some collectors enjoy toning, it’s a destructive force that will eventually cause the coin to become very dark.”
Humidity can also cause mold growth, which is an issue for collectors of both coins and paper money. “Mold is particularly a concern for paper money collectors, but it may also grow on coins,” says Roach. “Generally, coins should be preserved in a low-humidity environment, preferably less than 30 percent relative humidity.”
With a climate-controlled storage unit, you can ward off oxidation damages and mold growth, as you can keep your storage unit at consistent and moderate temperature and humidity levels that are just right for coin storage.
Get Insurance that Covers Your Collection
Some self storage facilities make it a priority to ensure that customers walk away feeling confident that their belongings are safe by providing video surveillance, gated access, on-site management, or other security features that ward off potential thieves. However, coin experts believe insurance for your collection is something that should always be considered, regardless of where it’s being stored.
“Insurance of the replacement value of your collection should definitely be considered when putting them in self storage,” says Westover. “Check with your insurance agent to be sure of your exact coverage.”