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Unintentional Ways Collectors Damage Coins – And How to Stop!

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek …..
Most coin collectors know the major deadly sin regarding the manage of coins : don ’ thyroxine clean them ! Yet a diverseness of coin-handling accidents will happen anyhow. Many of the most well-meaning mint collectors have made some of the gravest mistakes when it comes to how they ’ ve handled, stored, or otherwise managed their mint collections. It ’ second just besides easy to damage coins beyond animate – the little of open clash, an errant cutting of the finger, or even buying an outdated mint holder can spell figurative and literal doom for coins .
There are a million-and-one ways that coins have been permanently damaged in the differently caring hands of the collectors who love them. then, what are some of the more common ways collectors have unintentionally ruined their coins, and how can you prevent such fates from happening to you and your respect numismatic possessions ? here ’ s a look at some of the most frequent offenses and how to stop them from happening to you !

Can’t Return To Sender…

Boxcutters can scratch coins causing damage

Is there a more grievous way to damage a new arrival to your collection than by incidentally cutting it with an X-Acto knife or another sharp aim as you open the mailer in which it was shipped ? It ’ sulfur happened to then many collectors and dealers that it ’ mho easily one of the top ways numismatists mishandle their coins .
Most much, the coins are shipped safely and good but are layered in burp envelop, bound in magnetic tape, or otherwise covered in tightly wrapped, well-sealed packaging that necessitates the use of a knife or blade to open. Take extra care when opening these packages and remove each layer as if performing meticulous surgery on the token. Yes, we know you ’ re in a haste ( aren ’ metric ton we all ? ). Yes, we know you ’ ra anxious to see what your new leverage looks like. But take the time to open your packages carefully… Remember, any damage that happens to your purchase after it arrives is not eligible for a refund !

2x2s of Doom

Peace Dollar - Staples damage coins
2x2s are omnipresent. credibly the only supply item more numerous in mint collecting than 2×2 cardboard holders or exchangeable mounts are the staples used to secure them. And while the staples are an important part of keeping your coins secured inside, there are a few implicit in risks involved in sealing a coin within or removing a mint from a 2×2 .
The first dangerous part comes in stapling the holder together. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate position the stapler besides close to the mint, lest you ding it with the mind of the stapler ; rather, staple the holder as close to its edges as potential. One errant move with a stapler placed besides close to a coin and your pristine piece could be damaged goods. But that ’ s not the lone numismatically hazardous part of working with a 2×2. Oh, good heavens no…
ever tried using pliers to crimp the bubbling loops on the business end of a staple against the bland panel of the 2×2 ? not merely does crimping the staple loops help save space in row boxes, but it besides helps prevent cancel of the staple ends against early coins, and crimped staples are the marker of polish and professionalism .
But be careful how close those pliers get to the coin. You don ’ thymine want to put big ol ’ cuts into the brim !
And taking coins out of 2x2s can seem innocuous enough of an act that some of us let our guards down, but there ’ s a bunch that can go incorrect when taking coins out of staple cardboard holders. The coin could get scratched by a staple. You might incidentally put your greasy fingers on the coin ’ s come on. The coin might drop out of the holder and get damaged upon shock with a hard surface such as a table or shock .
In other words, 2x2s lend a overplus of risks that could easily and irreparably damage coins. however, there are ways to help mitigate these risks. In addition to the precautions listed above, you might consider the follow to safely remove coins from 2x2s :

  • Wear cotton gloves to avoid direct contact with the coin surfaces.
  • When removing coins from 2x2s, do so over a soft, padded surface.
  • If you can practically do so without imparting more damage to the coin inside the holder, remove the staples with a staple remover – but be very careful not to scrape the coins inside the holders.
  • If you can’t safely extricate the staples from the holder before removing the coin, then carefully pry the holder open and be sure the coin within does not come in contact with any part of the staples – or fall out onto a hard surface.

While 2x2s aren ’ thyroxine considered ideal for long-run storage, they do represent a well combination of properly short-run storage guard and overall economy. Thus, 2x2s will probably remain an crucial region of our hobby for the foreseeable future .
however, an excellent way you can remove the risks normally associated with conventional 2x2s is to buy self-sealing 2x2s both for selling your coins or storing the ones you have in your collection. self-sealing 2x2s are a small more expensive but they can save money on staples, the time required to work with 2x2s, and they can besides eliminate the staple-related risks that come with later removing coins from the holder .

Slimy PVC Holders

There was a time in our hobby during the 1960s, ’ 70s, and even into the ‘ 80s, when polyvinyl chloride –more notoriously known in numismatic circles as PVC –was considered a beneficial product. This democratic polymer helps make plastics more ductile and less brittle, and it was once found in everything from mint albums to display cases .
But time hasn ’ thyroxine been kind to PVC ’ s standing in our avocation – and it surely hasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate been nice to the coins once contained within PVC-riddled holders .
Slime from PVC can ruin a coin's beauty and cause damage to its surface The reaction between PVC and coin metals ( specially coins stored in hot, humid conditions ) has left many coins with insidious and permanent wave PVC wrong. And not only does PVC damage the coins it has directly come into contact with, but, even more frighteningly, the PVC wrong can besides spread to other coins in a collection, much like an infectious disease .
Acidic PVC price manifests in many corrosive forms. The most common and widely known signboard of PVC damage is a greens film that forms on coins – though it may besides be seen in blues, greys, yellows, and early colors, a well as in streak or splotches across some or all of the coin ’ s surface. Porosity and early forms of corrosion may be seen as localize or far-flung pit .
While PVC damage is broadly irreversible, there are ways to prevent far damage to coins already afflicted by this synthetic bane .
One of the most coarse methods is to bathe the coin in acetone for at least 30 seconds to remove the PVC sludge, a march most safely done while wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated sphere .
You could besides submit the coins for professional conservation, though many such services have certain restrictions and special contractual clauses concerning the treatment of PVC-damaged coins .
therefore how do you avoid subjecting your coins to PVC wholly ? Quite just, keep them away from coin supplies that may contain PVC. Be wary about placing them in older holders, particularly those with plasticize elements such as slides or covers. The softer the plastic, the more likely it contains PVC, so be certain to avoid using unvetted delicate formative flips or any albums that contain ( specially ductile ) fictile components .
It ’ mho best to play it condom and buy mod coin supplies that are marked as “ inert ” or otherwise PVC detached. If you suspect any of your coins are presently in albums or other display products that may contain PVC, be sure to remove them vitamin a soon as potential and place them in inert holders. It may not be a bad idea to have the coins professionally treated for PVC exposure, equally well .

Preventing Environmental Damage

Coin metal is finical. While gold is fairly stoic when it comes to responding to the environment around it, silver and specially copper are highly reactive metals. copper in especial is prone to corrosion and a host of other problems. And like a canary in the coal mine, copper coins will often be the foremost in one ’ second collection to exhibit naked-eye visible responses to debatable environmental issues such as heat, humidity, and fumes .
many collectors are prudently cautious about how they store their copper coins, and some dealers who attend mint shows in versatile regions of the United States or other parts of the earth won ’ t travel with them during hot summer weather. Some raw keep off going to places like Florida, where the vent mass is generally humid and, peculiarly near the state ’ s hundreds of miles of shoreline, is besides reasonably salty .
Humidity can result in problems for copper coins
regardless of what types of coins you collect, you need to be careful about how you store and handle them. It ’ south best to keep them in a cool, dry environment away from send sunlight, sources of heating system, and any fumes. Don ’ thymine storehouse your coins in places with excessive humidity, namely any non-climate-controlled areas of your home, such as a basement, attic, or garage. If storing your coins in a bank safety deposit box or other off-site placement, make surely you know what the climate settings are like, and don ’ metric ton assume they ’ re necessarily within safe parameters for coins storage. If necessity, add silica gel packets to your vault or early storage containers to wick away moisture and aid stabilize humidity levels .
shop your coins in holders that don ’ t leave for the passing of air or the introduction of moisture and impurities. Modern coin slab from the major reputable third-party coin rate firms represent some of the very best coin-storage engineering around today .
But if you can ’ t have all of your coins encapsulated, then the following best stake is to seek coin albums and display cases that provide alike protection ( of course, per the previous point, avoid buy supplies that may contain PVC ! ). Inert flips are all right for storing your coins though possibly not quite a ideal as containers and organizational supplies that seal the coins off from vent and moisture wholly .
Don ’ t store your coins in newspaper envelopes, which not only permit the unblock menstruation of air and moisture but besides contain sulfur – an component known to damage coins over time. And although coin folders are popular for organizing coin collections, this method of storage is not chemically ideal for the coins themselves, as the sulphur within the cardboard and glues used in the folders may damage your coins in the long run. What ’ s more, mint folders, coin envelopes, and like methods of storage can besides impart friction on the high points of a coin – something that is irreversible and could actually decrease a mint ’ second wear-based grade .
High-point clash is in separate why the manipulation of mint cabinets fell out of favor during the early to mid-20th hundred. Though a most flowery and apparently deluxe method acting of coin storage, mint cabinets pose several numismatic storage problems, including the cabinet friction imparted on coins as they slide in and out of drawers, exposure to tune and moisture, and the hazard of fingerprints in lifting the coins out of their drawer trays and placing them back inside .

Don’t Leave Fingerprints

sometimes we leave our tracks behind on coins, and this is most normally done by manner of fingerprints .
Fingerprints on an American Silver Eagle
It ’ s not unmanageable to impart these unsightly and frequently permanent wave memorials to our stewardship of the coins we have in our collections. One misplaced finger on the obverse or rearward of a coin and we may be reminded of this mistake months or years down the line when a fingerprint shows up in that spot. This is specially truthful with Uncirculated and Proof coins, ampere well as copper neologism in general. Though in hypothesis, a visible fingerprint could show up on any coin careless of its class or metallic musical composition .
thankfully, it ’ second slowly to avoid leaving fingerprints behind on coins. These distracting and frequently grade-impairing imperfections are typically seen on coins that have been handled by dirty or greasy fingers and stored in hot, humid locations. Wearing gloves and properly holding a mint by its edge with your thumb and index virtually eliminates any chance of leaving fingerprints behind – though gloves may increase the chances of dropping your coin .
You can further mitigate these risks by washing your hands prior to touching any of your coins to remove dirt, dirt, and early foreign matter advance .

Don’t Be Taken to the Cleaners

It ’ south reasonably much impossible to overstate the contiguous and long-run problems that come with clean coins. not only does cleaning a coin potentially remove a thin layer of its metallic element from the surface, but it besides artificially alters a mint ’ south appearance by removing the natural patina it has accrued over a period of years. Stripping away a coin ’ s out layer leaves many immediate and undesirable post-cleaning effects. The long-run effects can be even worse…
sometimes coins re-tone raggedly after clean, leaving splotchy or streaked coloration or toning on affected pieces. Often the colors the coin acquires don ’ thymine appear natural. And, besides, a skilled numismatist will be able to tell a coin was cleaned flush many years after its re-toning process has begun. This is particularly the sheath with harsh cleanings involving acerb chemicals and abrasives. Cleaned circulate coins often have an unnatural but flat polish, higher-grade pieces may have dull surfaces, and pieces that once showed batch of gorgeous mint luster will lose their beautiful efflorescence .
Of run, not all cleanings are undertake with the purpose of defrauding a collector. surely, there are many innocuous reasons why a collector may attempt to clean a coin. A well-meaning coin collector just may be trying to remove old adhesive material left behind from person who once taped the coin to the inwardly of a booklet or a display. Or possibly a collector wants to remove a greasy clop of remainder sitting in the crevices of the coin ’ s design or letter .
In about every case, what ends up happening is the cleaning leaves more minus results than it does positive ones. It ’ s never a adept theme to clean a mint – at least not in the conventional ways most collectors hear about. You ’ ll find 1,001 on-line articles, YouTube video, and other posts describing all manner of ways to clean bull coins with vinegar and broil sodium carbonate, remove “ tarnish ” from silver coins using toothpaste and jewelry maker ’ second rub, or otherwise make old coins look “ newly ” again. And more recently there have been a rise in the number of posts suggesting the manipulation of acidic tomato-based ketchups and salsa for lightening copper coins .
however, vinegar, baking pop, and condiments add up to nothing more than a recipe for numismatic catastrophe. These are all highly damaging and highly amateurish approaches to the matter at hand. If lukewarm running water system international relations and security network ’ thymine sufficient for sloughing off loose crap or debris on your coins, and acetone won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate do the antic in knocking out adhesives, glues, or other unwelcome surface guests, then submit your coin to a professional conservation service. The professionals know what coins can – or can not – be by rights conserved and will employ best-practice techniques for safely conserving your coins or saving them from far dilapidation .

Being the Best Coin Collector You Can Be

If you ’ ve committed any or even all of the coin handling mistakes listed in this article, take heart – everybody makes mistakes. many of these unintentional errors are worse than others. But sometimes it ’ s entirely through trial and mistake that we learn what not to do in life. And through our mistakes we can become beneficial numismatists .
thus, if you ’ ve by chance scratched a mint while removing it from a mailer or a 2×2, placed coins in PVC-riddled holders, or left behind a biomarker or two on some of your coins – why, evening if you ’ ve scrubbed your honest-to-god ash grey dollars with the harshest combination of toothpaste and bake pop known to mankind – laugh and determine from your err, then move on. What ’ randomness done is done. You ’ ve gained invaluable wisdom in the procedure and surely you now know what to do differently to avoid making the lapp err again. It ’ s all contribution of the enriching learning experience in this great hobby we call numismatics.


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