Ancient and rare coins are increasingly popular with American investors and collectors, who understand how these items can offer a respectable return on investment. Indeed, according to the Luxury Investments Index, the value of rare coins increased by 248 percent in the ten-year period up to 2013. Nonetheless, collectors must find ways to protect their coins from a range of threats. If you're new to the coin collecting business, protect your investment, and learn more about the four biggest threats to your collection.
While most collectors understand that the metal in a coin collection is vulnerable to acidity, a lot of people fail to realize how many different sources of acid you can find in the average home. Even the most clueless collector would probably not bathe his or her coins in vinegar or fizzy soft drinks, but acidity also lurks in many other places.
For example, the sweat on your skin is generally acidic. Sweat contains electrolytes and water, and healthy sweat has a pH of between 4 and 6. While the amount of acid in your sweat may seem low, constant coin handling with sweaty fingers can quickly cause permanent damage. For this reason, you should never handle your coins without wearing gloves.
You'll also find acid in many of the materials that collectors use to store coins. Paper and cardboard are often acidic, and, over time, the acid will tarnish unprotected coins. Collectors should always buy acid-free cardboard products, but even the adhesive you use to glue a box together can contain acid, so proceed with caution.
Humidity is one of the biggest threats to your coin collection, particularly because relative air humidity can change so quickly. As the temperature falls, the relative humidity can increase, which means collecting conditions vary greatly in summer and winter. If the relative humidity in your home reaches 100 percent, your coins are at serious risk because of the moisture-saturated air.
Coins enjoy low humidity. You can buy airtight. plastic containers that securely hold one coin. You should also try to manage the humidity in the room where you store your collection, and a dehumidifier can help you keep air moisture as low as possible.
American homeowners often use chlorine for different purposes around the house. Chlorine bleach is a cheap and popular product to use in kitchens and bathrooms, and homeowners often use the chemical to sterilize the water in their swimming pool or hot tub. When you use chlorine in this way, the chemical creates harmful vapors, which, over time, can damage the surface of collectible coins.
Bronze disease is a form of corrosion that affects bronze and certain copper alloys. The condition leaves a green coating on coins that come into prolonged contact with chlorine compounds in salt water or soil. What's more, once affected, you cannot reverse the damage of Bronze disease, so you should take steps to keep your coins away from the chemical.
Don't store coins in a room near a pool or hot tub, where the steam can contaminate your coins. Also, when buying plastic protectors for coins, make sure you choose products that don't contain PVC. PVC (or polyvinyl chloride) contains chlorine. Exposure to the plastic can lead to Bronze disease for some rare coins.
Improper handling is one of the most common causes of irreparable damage to ancient coins. As well as the threat from sweat and body oils, poor handling can cause:
- Impact damage when somebody drops the coin
- Scuffs and scratches from inappropriate tools and handling materials
- Damage from staples, pins and paper clips used to hold a collection in place
Experienced collectors go to considerable lengths to protect their coins. Minimize handling as much as possible, but, if you do need to touch your coins, learn how to handle your coins properly.
Rare and collectible coins through a place like Harlan J. Berk, LTD can offer a valuable investment, but if you don't protect your collection, you could easily lose money. Learn more about the threats to your new collection, and take steps to use the best possible protective measures.