How to Properly Care for and Handle Rare Coins

How to Properly Care for and Handle Rare Coins

When it comes to collecting rare coins, many people are under the assumption that the coins can be handled similar to their bullion coins, which derive their value from the underlying metal content. This isn’t necessarily the case. Considering that rare or numismatic coins regularly have values that far surpass bullion coin values, special care and handling should be used to help maintain the value of your rare coin collection over the long run.

In this piece, we’ll share with you tips on how to properly handle your coins, including what not to do, in hopes that the quality and value of your collection will be preserved for many years to come.

Wear Cotton Gloves Handle Coins with White Coin Gloves

The best advice that we can provide with respect to handling coins is to only do so with cotton gloves. High-quality Egyptian cotton gloves can be found online or at most craft and hobby stores. While proper handling is still necessary, this can help avoid issues that can devalue coins, such as fingerprints and other surface issues. If you are in need of a pair, here are some options to help start your search! Below are some additional helpful suggestions.

Use Hand Sanitizer

No matter how clean collectors think their hands are, the oils on their skin can do considerable damage to the coin itself. This buildup causes the metal to tarnish and can increase the amount of wear and corrosion on the face of the coin. The more the face of the coin is handled, the more subdued the features will become. Hand sanitizer will remove the bulk of those troublesome oils.

Handle coins by Rim of CoinHold the Edges Only

Rather than handling the face of the coin, coin dealers recommend that you try to only touch the coin by its edges. This reduces the risk of oils and residue scratching or tarnishing the metal. Holding the coin between two fingers just along the edges allows collectors to examine and admire the condition of the coin more easily. While the edges may still show toning or tarnishing, coin dealers always prioritize the condition of the face over the edge, regardless of the type of the metal composition of the coin.

Cushion the Coins

Dirt and debris on a table can scratch the metal, damaging the coin and reducing its grade. Coin dealers often use a cushion or tray similar to those found in jewelry stores to protect the surface of a coin, but a soft or microfiber towel will work for most purposes at home. This is especially important for gold coins, as gold is a soft metal and can be easily damaged and scratched from careless handling. The same applies to silver coins, but to a lesser extent.

Proof & Uncirculated Coins

While gold and silver coins are composed of softer metals that can be devalued if not properly handled, in general, uncirculated and proof coins are the most susceptible to damage; especially proof coins. Even when wearing cotton gloves, the surface of a proof coin can be affected, as cotton fibers from the gloves can adhere to the coin. In general, the best way to protect your coins is to limit handling them, and in particular, proof coins.

Avoid Handling the Collection

Sure, it’s tempting to handle a collection anytime the urge strikes, but it’s best to leave rare items in their cases. Consider housing the collection in an airtight display case or in protective mylar sleeves, commonly referred to as “coin flips,” to minimize the risk of damage. Avoid plastic sleeves, as they can break down over time, causing residue to affect the surface of the coin.

These cases also protect the collection from moisture, sparing the coins from premature tarnish and corrosion. Although, it’s important to house your collection in a temperate environment, as extreme temperature changes (especially humidity) will in time cause most coins to oxidize.Don't Clean Your Coins

Don’t Clean the Surface

Yes, the cleaner the coin, the higher the perceived value, but no collector should ever clean their rare coins in order to make them look nicer. For those items that were in circulation, the patina should simply be left alone. Cleaning coins does more harm than good, so altering coins can devalue them.

Additionally, coins that have been cleaned or altered may be rejected as candidates by third-party grading services, such as NGC or Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS). Coin dealers prefer to see a coin with some obvious age and an original surface during an appraisal rather than one that’s been scrubbed clean.

If you’re looking for additional advice on handling coins properly or to sell your valuable coins or coin collection, contact the rare coin experts at Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers today.

If you need to have a coin collection appraisal, you can turn to Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers for help. We handle appraisals on everything from individual coins to multi-generational estate collections and are available to travel for large and more valuable estate coin collections.

Our experts have years of experience and a vast knowledge of old, rare, and numismatic coins, gold, platinum, palladium and silver coins, bars and rounds, as well as coin sets and paper money.

What’s more, Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers are long term members of several major numismatic organizations and are committed to providing the most accurate valuations possible. Talk to us today to learn more about estate coin collection appraisals or to set up your appraisal now.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis