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Caring for Numismatic Coins: A User’s Guide

To protect the value of numismatic or rare coins, knowing how to care for them properly is essential. Here are tips that coin collectors should follow when it comes to handling, cleaning, maintaining, and storing their valuable coins. Coin collection owned by Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers in Atlanta, GA

Handling Rare Coins

When handling rare coins, they should always be picked up by the edges, never by the face. The natural oils of the skin quickly damage coins by leaving permanent fingerprints and/or toning. If possible, always wear lintless cotton gloves when picking up or holding valuable coins. Avoid latex or plastic gloves, which sometimes carry lubricants or powders that can damage the coin.

When holding the coin, place a soft towel or mat over any hard surfaces that could cause damage. Coins should be stored in inert plastic holders, such as a soft 2 x 2 plastic flip or a hard plastic capsule to avoid damage from touching, rubbing, or dropping them. Look for coin holders, albums, and cardboard sheets that are specifically designed for this purpose, and be sure to avoid pvc holders, which can break down over time and adhere to coins.

Cleaning and Caring for Old Coins

The advice of most coin experts when it comes to cleaning coins? Don’t do it. Rubbing, scratching, cleaning, or polishing the coin’s surface can reduce its value by as much as 50 percent. If you must clean, only clean bullion coins; in other words, coins whose value is derived from the underlying metal content as opposed to any collectible or numismatic value. Avoid commercial coin cleaners, which contain substances that wear away the metal surface. Coins that have aged naturally are more valuable and absent of the damage that can come from cleaning, such as hairline scratches.

If coins are covered in dirt and grease, the debris can be removed with mild dish detergent and distilled water. Rinse coins and allow them to air dry. Do not use tap water, which can damage the coin.

As alluded to above, high grade uncirculated or proof coins, as well as copper alloy coins should never be cleaned using this or any other method. Coins that are heavily crusted or corroded can be soaked in olive oil for several months; this may eventually dissolve the crust. Conservation services are also available from some third-party grading services, such as Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

To learn more about old coins or receive a valuation, trust the professionals at Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers. We offer transparent buying rates and competitive pricing for those interested in buying or selling gold, silver, or platinum coins as well as rare coins, foreign coins, and privately minted bullion. Sellers may receive a free appraisal in person, online, or through the mail. To schedule an in-person appraisal at our Midtown Atlanta or Johns Creek offices, call 404-236-9744.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis