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Starting a Coin Collection Part 2

Originally published on August 16, 2013 Last time we discussed how important it is to focus on a specific area rather than try to collect everything. It was also mentioned that doing some homework on what you are about to collect, and very importantly getting a book or two on the subject (and reading them!) will go a long way.

Next is most likely the most overlooked part of coin collecting, and one that if you plan it properly will increase your enjoyment of your collection many fold…storage and display. Lets face it, you probably started a collection because you like the look of these old shiny pieces of metal…so why not make sure you get the most out of your coin display. The good news is that in the last few years the selection of items available to help you sort, store, and display your coin has expanded greatly.

Again, as mentioned in the previous article, by knowing what your collection is supposed to look like when it is done will greatly help you plan carefully not only your coin purchases, but also how it will be displayed. Here are some ideas based on different types of collections…

If you are collecting Canadian or USA coins by date (this is how many collectors get started), you can purchase pre designed albums with empty slot of each coin. This is a great benefit as many coins can be stored in one book, and the album pretty much guides you as to what you are missing. Usually there is a hole for each coin with a label underneath with the date or variety.

For those collecting only a few select coins perhaps a coin frame would be impressive. You can now purchase frames that will hold a small group (usually a dozen or less) of special items. This will look great on your wall…and you can see your collection everyday! Small collections can also be placed in special trays that can be stacked in boxes. These can be made of plastic, or in more luxurious materials like wood, and velvet.

Ancient, and world coin collectors usually either make their own albums, or store their collections in boxes. Using albums is very simple. 3 ring binders can by purchased at any office supply store (we carry higher end ones with slipcases at our store), and special pages can be inserted inside them to hold your coins. Special cardboard and mylar holders fix the coins in place, and usually allow some space to write a description of each item.

Using boxes is also quite simple. First each coin is put either in a cardboard or mylar holder, and is identified, and put in order in special boxes designed for coins. This is likely the preferred method of storing more expensive items, as these boxes fit quite well in bank safety deposit boxes. Unfortunately, this is the least interesting method from a display perspective, as you can only really look at one coin at a time.

If you are creating your own album, my suggestion would be to go back an imagine your collection complete, and leave spaces for the coins you are missing. This makes it more exciting to as you fill each hole. For those with a creative or artistic touch, filling each empty space with a picture or the specifications of the item you want will make even a mostly empty binder look great. I did this once with a collection of Roman silver coins many years ago. I obtained an image of each coin I was missing and printed it on little cards, then placed them in the empty slots. I had almost as much fun putting together the empty album, as filling it. It also made it clear which items really belonged in the collection, and this made it easier to make purchase decision.

Your enjoyment of the hobby will be vastly improved by getting a good loupe (special magnifying glass). Most coins are small, and the details even more so. Do not be cheap here! Buy the best quality you can afford. My suggestion is a 10X magnification with a reasonably sized lens. You will need this to identify and grade your coins. Loupes can cost between $10 and $200, with decent quality ones usually in the $30-$50 range.

Ok, so now you have figured out what you want to collect, read some books on the subject, did a bit of research on the web, purchased some coin supplies, made or bought an album, and are ready to fill it up…so off to make coin purchases right? No. We still have some more ground to cover before making those big acquisitions. Next time in Part 3.

Michael Joffre is owner of Carsley Whetstone & Company Inc. a firm that buys and sells rare coins and related collectables. He is always interested in buying older coin collections. CWC also carries a full line of books and collecting supplies, available in stock in their retail store. Michael can be reached at 514-289-9761, or at


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