Coin Collecting Supplies for the Beginner

Placing a Mercury dime and a coin folder.
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Every coin collector, be beginner or advance, needs several coin collecting supplies to store and display their coin collection correctly. Most importantly, these coin supplies will keep your coins from being damaged and preserved their pristine condition. These coin supplies will get you started on a lifelong hobby while providing you hours of enjoyment.

Coin Folders and Albums

A popular method of storing your coin collection is to buy a coin folder or album. There are many options for you to choose from. Coin folders only allow one side of the coin to be viewed, but they are very inexpensive and ideal for beginning coin collectors. Intermediate and advanced collectors may want to look at coin albums that are slightly more expensive, but allow both sides of the coin to be viewed and provide additional protection by using plastic inserts that protect the surfaces of the coin.

Regardless of which type of folder or album you choose, you must be careful not to damage the coin when inserting it into your folder or album. If the coin has been well circulated and is not in very good condition, the concern is not as great. However, for uncirculated coins, you need to insert the coins into your folder or album very carefully. Any fingerprint or abrasion during the insertion process will definitely show on an uncirculated coin.

Coin Holders

The first and foremost supply that you will need for coin collecting is a safe means to store your coins so they will not get damaged. Most beginners start with the proverbial "cigar box" as a means to save their coin collection. Unfortunately, this does not protect your coins from damage occurs from the coins touching and rubbing up against each other. Therefore, the best bet is a holder, folder, or coin album that is specifically designed to house your coins.

The most popular coin holders are cardboard 2x2s. These are 2" x 4" pieces of cardboard with a hole in the middle of each side and clear Mylar plastic adhered to the inside. You place the coin on the plastic over the hole, and the holder is folded in half and stapled shut.

Another popular and inexpensive coin holder is the coin flip. Inert Mylar plastic is used to construct these coin flips, and they measure 2" x 4" with a pocket on each side. The coin fits in one pocket, and a piece of paper with identifying information fits into the other pocket. The holder is then folded over to protect the coin from falling out and thus allows safe storage in an album page or storage box. Be careful when purchasing 2 x 2 coin flips to be sure that the plastic does not contain any PVC.

Finally, there are a variety of hard plastic holders that you can use to store your coins. Plastic holders come in several different types, ranging from holders that store individual coins through large holders that can store an entire collection of coins. Advanced collectors may want to purchase custom-made hard plastic holders that are tailored for their coin collections.

Flat Clinch Stapler

If you decide to use 2 x 2 cardboard coin holders, you will need to staple them shut. Using a standard office stapler will result in the staple being crimped underneath the holder with two bumps from the staple protruding from the back of the holder. You can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to flatten these bumps, but you risk scratching the coin with the pliers.

A more straightforward solution is to buy a flat clinch stapler that presses the staple underneath the holder into the cardboard so that the staple does not protrude from the back of the cardboard holder. This will prevent the staple from damaging another coin in a cardboard holder next to it.

Regardless of what type of stapler you decide to use, extra care must be exercised when stapling the cardboard coin holder shut. Stapling too close to the coin may result in damaging your prized possession. This damage will result in a loss of value.

Magnifier and Light

To properly view your coins, you will need proper lighting conditions and a magnifier to help you see your coins better. The best lighting is incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting tends to be too soft and mild and may hide significant imperfections from you. Halogen lights, on the other hand, are too harsh and may call undue attention to minor blemishes on your coin. A simple desk lamp that uses a 75-watt incandescent bulb is ideal. If you cannot find an incandescent bulb, use an LED bulb that has a full spectrum of colors.

Some coin collectors like to use two different kinds of magnifiers. The first is a hand-held lens, which is usually 1.5 to 4 inches in diameter and has a magnification power between 2X to 3X. This type of glass allows a general viewing of the coin's beauty and overall eye appeal. For more close-up analysis of the surface of a coin, a jeweler's loupe that has a magnification power between 10X and 15X is ideal.


The first two books any coin collector should purchase are the U.S. Coins "Red Book" (A Guide Book of United States Coins) and The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards of United States Coins (ANA Grading Guide). The Red Book is the standard pricing guide for United States coins. It provides a brief history and description of all the United States coins ever minted. The other quintessential reference book is the ANA Grading Guide that provides a detailed description of every United States coin and how a grade is determined.


The oils and acids from your skin can damage the delicate surface of any coin. Using gloves is especially essential when handling uncirculated coins that have pristine surfaces. Wear gloves to keep the oils and acids on your fingers from contaminating your coins. Most professional numismatists prefer soft cotton gloves. An alternative to cotton gloves is powder-free latex or nitrile gloves that can be purchased at any drugstore.

Pad or Soft Cloth

Finally, many coins are damaged by being dropped onto hard surfaces. As a measure of safety, you should always work over a soft pad or cloth that will cushion your coin in case you drop your coin. Additionally, the pad or cloth will prevent your coin from rolling onto the floor and further damaging it. Remember, there are many different ways to protect, preserve and store your coin collection