If you’re just starting out as a coin collector then of course you’ll be focused on buying coins from a dealer like Golden Eagle Coins but you also need to make sure you have all the right equipment to handle and look after your collection.
Your Coin Holders
The first thing you need is holders so that your coins don’t get scratched or damaged. You probably started off with a wooden box to store your very first coins, but of course you soon realise that this leads to the coins scratching each other, so you need to move on. What you need is a holder that’s specially designed for your coins.
By far the most popular coin holder is the flip. They’re made out of Mylar and they measure two inches by four and have a pocket on each side. The coin fits into one pocket and the paper slip bearing the coin’s details goes into the other. The coin goes into the pre-made hole and the pocket is folded over and stapled together so it can’t fall out.
Tip: Make sure the plastic flip pocket doesn’t contain any PVC as it can release gases that could tarnish your coin.
Your Flat Clinch Stapler
If you go with your flip folders you have to staple them shut; standard office staplers leave a bumpy “finish” where the two edges of the stapler bend together so you’ll need a flat clinch stapler. This stapler presses the staple into the cardboard so it doesn’t stick out.
Coin Albums and Folders
You can also use coin folders and albums. Folders mean that only one side of the coin can be viewed, but they are cheap and ideal for beginners and children. Once you move up a bit, you can start to use albums; albums let you look at both sides of the coin and they also offer extra protection in the form of plastic inserts that can be placed over the coins’ faces.
Your Magnifier and Light
You need good light and a magnifier to see your coins properly. Incandescent light is best as fluorescent is too “washy” and can hide small scratches. Halogens, on the other hand, are too hard and can bring out every single tiny imperfection.
You should aim for two magnifiers – a regular hand lens that has a 2X or 3X power and a jeweler’s loupe that works at 10X to 15X for closer inspections.
You need the US Coins Red Book (A Guide Book of United States Coins) and The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards of United States Coins (ANA Grading Guide). The Red Book is a pricing guide and the ANA guide gives detailed descriptions of coins and explains how grades are determined.
The acids and grease on your skin can damage the delicate finish of coins, especially uncirculated ones. You need to protect the coins from your oils by wearing gloves. Most coin collectors wear clean cotton gloves although powder-free latex or nitrile gloves will do to start with.
Your Pad or Soft Cloth
You can damage coins, especially gold ones, by dropping them onto hard surfaces so you should only ever handle your coins over a cushioned surface. Additionally, your soft surface should prevent the coin from rolling onto the floor if you do drop it.