What should you know if you just inherited or acquired a coin collection?


Quick highlights:


  • Clean your coins.
  • Store your coins near or with rubber bands.
  • Store your coins using tape or aluminum foil.
  • Tell a dealer you do not know what you have.
  • Use unreliable sources on the internet for values or information such as Etsy.

  • Handle rare coins by the edge.
  • Use coin safe materials for storage (2x2s, tubes, or non-PVC flips.)
  • Get multiple offers for your collection from different dealers.
  • Consider purchasing a copy of “The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins” if you want to learn more about coins.


It may seem daunting to have just acquired a coin collection. There are many sources for information on coins, some are good while others contain partial, misleading, or false information.  Whether you are just looking to learn about what you have acquired, or you are looking to sell, I would like to offer up this article to help guide you.  We will discuss the dos and don’ts in handling coins, storing coins, and ultimately selling your coins.

When it comes to coins the don’ts are especially important.

The worst thing that can be done to a coin is cleaning it, this will have numerous negative impacts.  Cleaning a coin will change its overall natural color, leave scratches on the surface (even relatively soft materials will do so), and remove any or all remaining luster (luster is the finish created during the striking process. Once it is gone, it is gone.)  Under no circumstances is it advisable for you to clean your coins. In the rare circumstance that a coin needs to be preserved, it is best to leave the conservation to the experts at PCGS and NGC’s conservation departments.  Due to the negative effects of cleaning on a coin’s appearance it will reduce the value.  Always handle rare coins by their edge.

When it comes to storage, you might be tempted to use household items, some are okay, some are not.  Rubber bands are dangerous to coins. As they dry out, they can become attached to coins.  If this happens, it will lead to a streak forming on the metal that cannot be removed.  Aluminum foil is another thing to avoid, as this can lead to abrasions.  Another thing that sounds like a good choice may not be, facial tissues. If they contain any chemicals, they are not good for coins.  You are better off investing a few dollars in proper coin storage supplies such as 2x2s, non-pvc flips, or coin tubes.

If you have made the decision to sell your coins or get an offer, you should also be cautious.  It is always a good idea to go to a coin store (pawn shops, jewelry stores, antique stores are not likely to be knowledgeable on better dates or be able to determine condition.)  It is important not to allow any destructive testing, filing into a coin, rubbing a coin on a test stone or dropping acid on it as these things will harm the coin.  Under no circumstances should you allow someone to take your coins out of sight. Always remember that you should not feel pressured or obligated to sell your coins. Getting a second opinion and/or offer is never a bad idea.  If you decide not to sell at that time, make sure to collect all your coins before you leave and beware of any last-minute offers that are hundreds of dollars more than the initial offer.

We hope that you may have found this article helpful.  Remember we are always here to help.  Whether you are buying, selling, or just looking for a little information, give us a call or stop by!