What You Need To Know About Maintaining Your Silver Coin Collection

If you are new to the wonderful world of collecting silver coins, you probably already know that rare coins require specialized handling practices and storage conditions. But fledgling collectors rarely start off with priceless or even very valuable coins, and low-and-medium value coins require proper storage and care as well. Following are the basics of cultivating a well-maintained silver coin collection.

Provide Silver Coins With a Proper Environment

Hot and cold temperature extremes, salty air, high atmospheric humidity, and pollution all have the potential to adversely affect the surface of silver coins.  Specialized boxes and shield-holders are available for those who have rare coins in their collections, but you should consider providing an optimal environment for your less valuable coins as well. After all, their surfaces are subject to the same potential adverse effects of the previously listed conditions, and today's moderately priced silver coin may be tomorrow's valuable piece, so keeping your collection in the best possible condition may have positive long-term results.

Handle Silver Coins With Care

Constantly touching silver coins with grubby hands results in damage to their surfaces. The naturally occurring oils in your hands may cause corrosion over long periods of time, so avoid touching your coins directly on their faces even if your hands are squeaky clean. Avoid wearing gloves to handle coins because even thin gloves cause you to lose tactile tension in your fingers, making it more likely that the coins will be dropped. Always hold your coins gently by the edges over a soft, clean surface such as a thick cotton cloth in the event that they fall from your grip. The fabric should be washed in unscented detergent only with no bleach or fabric softener added, and you should avoid using fabric softener dryer sheets when drying it -- don't use anything on the cloth that could possibly leave behind a chemical residue. Professional coin dealers and serious collectors often use felt at coin shows because it's lint-free. Other basics of handling silver coins include:

  • Use your thumb and forefinger to securely hold the coin.
  • Never breathe on your silver coins -- or those belonging to anyone else. If you're holding a coin to inspect it, hold it at the opposite angle of your breath stream.
  • Refrain from talking, eating, or chewing gum during the time that an extremely valuable coin has been removed from its case.
  • Respect other collectors' coins -- even if they're low-grade, low value coins, handling them as if they were valuable is only good manners. Practice the same etiquette in coin shops.
  • If you're inspecting a coin without a proper drop surface, always keep your free hand slightly cupped directly beneath the hand that is holding the coin.

Avoid Cleaning Valuable Silver Coins

Many fledgling coin collectors are under the erroneous impression that they must clean their silver coins to keep them in optimal condition. However, cleaning silver coins may mar their surface to the extent that they are rendered worthless. Even nonabrasive cleaning solutions can wreck the delicate finish on silver coins, and you don't want to run the risk of wrecking the value of an expensive coin by trying to enhance its appearance. Before you clean any coin, it is necessary to find out its precise value from a professional who specializes in coin appraisals. If it's a low-value, common-date silver coin that is likely to remain that way for years to come, go ahead and use commercial silver polish or a gentle solution of baking soda on it if you want provide it with a shiny finish, but otherwise, don't clean your silver coins.

If you're ready to buy silver coins and start your collection, keeping these tips in mind will ensure you'll be happy with your investment.