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Coin Folders and Coin Albums

Properly Storing Your Coin Collection in Folders and Albums

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Coin folders and albums provide a convenient way for you to house and protect your coin collections while allowing you to display them for your friends or for your own enjoyment. The cost of these coin supplies range from a few dollars for a coin folder to over $40 for a custom coin album. Each style has advantages and disadvantages that are described below along with a few words of caution on to how your coins can get damaged if you are not careful. The main advantage that either one of these storage solution have over coin holders is there compact size and their ability to store a large number of coins in one album.

Coin Folders

Coin Folders
(c) 2011 James Bucki
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to protect and organize your coin collection is to use cardboard coin folders. There are several manufacturers, but basically all of them provide the same level of protection for your coin collection. They are constructed by cutting circular holes into the cardboard that fit the coin exactly and holds it in place. Underneath each hole is a date or description of the coin that belongs there. This helps you plan your collecting journey as you assemble a complete set of coins in that folder. Unfortunately, the construction of these folders only allows one side of the coin to be viewed. Additionally, the coin is exposed to the elements and possible fingerprint damage from people touching.

Coin Albums

Closeup of a Dansco Coin Album
(c) 2011 James Bucki
Coin albums provide similar storage capability as coin folders and they allow you to organize and protect your coin collection at the same time. Although more expensive, they have several advantages over coin folders. First of all, they allow you to view both sides of the coin while they are housed in the album. Secondly, there is a plastic insert that covers both sides of the coin that protects them from fingerprints and accidental damage. For an additional cost, some manufacturers offer a cardboard slipcase that protects the cover and the edge of your coin album. Also, coin albums do not have the three or four page limit that coin folders have. Some coin albums can hold up to 200 coins in one album.

Caution: Toned Coins

This silver coin has beautiful rainbow toning on the surface of the coin.
Image Courtesy of the Coin Page
In the early 1900's one of the reasons that coin collecting became popular was due to the introduction of coin boards. These were large sheets of cardboard similarly constructed like coin folders except that they did not fold into convenient sizes. Unfortunately, manufacturing processes at this time used acids in the manufacturing of the cardboard and the adhesives in their construction. Over time these acids leached out of the material and caused the coins contained in them to tone. Although actual corrosion was rare, the toning of copper and silver coins sometimes produced brilliant colors, and other times ugly dark patches. Today manufacturers of coin folders and albums use acid-free materials.

Caution: PVC Damage

PVC Damage in Coin Album
(c) James Bucki
Although coin folders and coin boards do not use plastic covers to protect the coins, coin albums do. Once again, early manufacturers made the plastic slides out of plastics that contained PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in order to soften the plastic and make it more pliable. What they did not realize is that over time the PVC will leach out of the plastic and adhered to the surface of the coin. This chemical process leaves an ugly green slime on the coin that makes it unattractive. If left on the coin for an extended period of time, it can actually damage the coin. You can remove the PVC residue from the coin without damaging by following some simple procedures.

Caution: Slider Marks

Hairline Scratches
Image Courtesy of: Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com
As manufacturers of coin collecting supplies became aware of the problems associated with plastics containing PVC, they took steps to correct it. They not only started using plastics that were PVC free, but did additional testing to ensure they were made of inert materials that would not chemically damage the coin. The downside of this solution was that the plastics were no longer soft and pliable, but hard and rigid. If collectors were not careful when removing or replacing the plastic slides that covered the coins, the edges of the plastic slide could rub across the coin and leave small scratches known as hairlines or slider marks. Normally, these are found on the highest points of the coin, but can also damage the field of the coin.
Read More on: How to Protect, Preserve and Store Your Coin Collection

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