Cleaning Your Coins
It is not recommended that you clean your coins at all. Even rubbing a coin with a very soft cloth can leave minute scratches on its surface. This will adversely affect the collector's value of the coin.
To improve a coin's appearance it is sometimes acceptable, in very rare cases, to gently swirl the coin in a diluted solution of pure soap, rinse it with distilled water, and then allow it to air dry. Never use any type of commercial jewellery polish on coins. These compounds contain abrasive grit that will mar the coin's surface. 'Home remedies' such as vinegar, lemon juice and tomato juice should also not be used for cleaning coins. All of these substances do more harm than good.
If you feel that you need to clean your coins, take them to an authorised coin care specialist who can do the cleaning for you.
Storing Your Coins
Careful storage is very important. To prevent improper handling, the originating mint encapsulates mint condition coins. Care must be taken to avoid contamination of the coin if it is removed from the capsule.
Apart from avoiding scratches, a damp environment encourages verdigris (a green or greenish-blue deposit called patina on copper, brass and bronze, which is caused by atmospheric corrosion). Albums with plastic pages divided into many small pouches may retain moisture and are unsuitable, especially for copper or bronze coins. Plastic often contains PVC-softening agents. When exposed to heat and/or humidity, PVC (poly vinyl chloride) releases a chemical that can react with coins and tarnish them. Store your coins in PVC-free plastic. These clear, plastic pouches are ideal because your collection can be viewed without removing the coins from their protective enclosures. These pouches can easily be compiled into a coin album with a ring binder.
Besides plastic pouches, there is the option of manila coin envelopes made of very dry paper. The advantage of using these is that you can identify the enclosures on the envelopes. However, you have to remove the coins from the envelopes to view them.
Traditionally, coins are housed in wooden showcase cabinets. Several trays are inset with circular, felt-lined trenches that hold the coins. At the base of each trench is a smaller hole through which the finger pushes the coin up from below.
If you decide to keep your collection in a cabinet, make sure it is not constructed of resinous softwoods, but rather of well-seasoned mahogany or rosewood. Moisture, natural oils, or acids in resinous woods can tarnish coins. Avoid oaks as well, because reactive fumes are released by the wood.
An additional precaution is to wrap your coins in specially treated soft tissue paper to prevent particles from landing on them. This also isolates the metal from any harmful chemicals in the atmosphere. Choose coin cabinets with doors that can be securely locked. Wherever you choose to store your collection, keep your coins out of direct sunlight and away from moisture. These elements speed up the natural process of decay and corrosion on the surface of your coins.
A strong safe deposit box is probably one of the best places to keep your coins. Remember to install a dehumidifier, or bags of silica gels that you can replace on a regular basis. Most collectors place coins in albums or trays with written descriptions, photos, grades, dates, place of purchase and value. It is a good idea to keep a duplicate copy of such a list in a safe place.
Finally, install a good home security system. Insure your coin collection against theft, loss and destruction. Insuring your coins is a wise investment, considering the legacy you are accumulating with your collection.