Coin collecting is an exciting hobby and also can be an investment that people enjoy throughout Canada and around the world. It’s easy to see why: collecting coins is exciting, challenging, and maybe even a little addictive. Plus, your coin collection can be a valuable asset that has the potential to deliver big returns on your investment.
Of course, to maintain the beauty and value of your collection, it’s important to handle and store your coins properly. The term “mint condition” originated with coin collectors, and a coin’s condition is especially important to valuing the pieces in your collection. Silver coins, in particular, require special care to prevent tarnishing and undue aging. With a little effort, you can keep your silver coins looking their best for generations to come.
What Causes Silver to Tarnish?
Silver tarnishing is a natural chemical reaction that occurs when the silver comes into contact with traces of hydrogen sulfide in the air. Hydrogen sulphide is a fairly ubiquitous chemical compound that typically results from anaerobic decay. At high concentrations, the compound has a sulphurous, rotten-egg smell and is highly toxic to humans. However, trace amounts of hydrogen sulfide are almost always present in the air around us. At such low concentrations, hydrogen sulphide is generally undetectable by most people, though it is still enough to trigger a reaction in silver coins.
When silver is exposed to the hydrogen sulphide particles in the air, a thin layer of corrosion occurs on the outer layers of the metal. This corrosion, which we sometimes refer to as “tarnish,” typically appears as a dull gray, black, or dark brown coating on silver. The tarnished layer acts as a barrier, protecting the inner layers from being exposed to the air. Despite this, many buyers and coin collectors tend to see tarnish as a devaluing factor when it comes to collectible coins.
How Should I Handle My Silver Coins?
Pure silver is an extremely soft metal that is highly susceptible to damage from improper handling. For this reason, most silver coins minted for circulation are mixed with a sizable percentage of other metals. Canadian coins of interest to collectors are partly or mostly silver, from older circulation coins to modern silver proof editions and fine silver collectibles and as such should be handled carefully.
If possible, lay a soft, thick cloth on the area where you will view the coins. Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling silver coins, or use gloves or tongs. Be careful to handle silver coins by touching the edges and avoid placing your fingers directly on the face of the coin. Never eat, drink, or smoke while handling your silver coins.
When dealing with silver coins, some tarnish is nearly inevitable. However, you can considerably reduce tarnishing by protecting your silver coins and limiting their exposure to air. For best results, store silver coins in air-tight plastic tubes, bags, capsules, or other air-tight containers. Avoid humidity where possible: don’t keep your silver coins near kitchens, bathrooms, aquariums, or humidifiers, and avoid cardboard storage, as cardboard absorbs moisture. Cooler environments tend to retain less humidity than warmer temperatures.
Never store silver coins near wool or using rubber bands, which naturally release tarnish-inducing hydrogen sulphide. Store silver coins with activated charcoal pellets or discs, such as those used in aquariums, as the charcoal filters some of the hydrogen sulphide from the air.
Silver coins can be a beautiful and valuable addition to your coin collection. Always take care to utilize proper storage and handling techniques to ensure that your coins retain their worth and allure for as long as possible. Visit our site to find the ideal storage solutions for maintaining and preserving your collectible silver coins.