All About Coin Folders and Coin Albums

numismatics album with different coins
VvoeVale / Getty Images

Coin folders and albums provide a convenient way for you to house and protect your coin collection while allowing you to display them for your friends or your enjoyment. The cost of these coin supplies ranges from a few dollars for a coin folder to over $40 for a custom coin album.

Each style has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage that either one of these storage solutions has over coin holders is their compact size and ability to store a large number of coins in one album or folder. If you have limited space in a safe or safe deposit box, a compact coin album maybe your best solution.

However, if you have expensive coins that have been encapsulated by a third-party grading service, you will not want to crack them out and put them in a coin folder or album. The best protection is to leave them in their special encapsulated holder. This is a guarantee of grade and authenticity. If the coin is cracked out of the holder, the guarantee will be null and void.

  • 01 of 05

    Coin Folders

    Coin Collection
    Don Farrall/Photodisc/Getty Images

    One of the easiest and least expensive ways to protect and organize your coin collection is to use cardboard coin folders. There are several manufacturers, but basically, all of them provide the same level of protection for your coin collection.

    This option provides beginning collectors an inexpensive way to get started in coin collecting. Their simple design and easy to follow layout provide a clear path for the beginning collector to chart their coin collecting journey.

    Publishers construct their coin folders by cutting circular holes into the cardboard that will fit the coin exactly and hold it in place. A label underneath each hole has a date or description of the coin that belongs there. This information helps you plan your coin collecting journey as you assemble a complete set of coins in that folder.

    Unfortunately, the design of these coin folders only allows one side of the coin to be viewed. Additionally, the coin is exposed to the atmosphere and possible fingerprint damage from people touching your coins.

  • 02 of 05

    Coin Albums

    Closeup of a Dansco Coin Album
    James Bucki

    Coin albums provide similar storage capability as coin folders, and they allow you to organize and protect your coin collection at the same time. Although more expensive, they have several advantages over coin folders.

    First of all, they allow you to view both sides of the coin while they are housed in the album. Secondly, there is a plastic insert that covers both sides of the coin that protects them from fingerprints and accidental damage. For an additional cost, some manufacturers offer a cardboard slipcase that protects the cover and the edge of your coin album. Also, coin albums do not have the three or four-page limit that coin folders have. Some coin albums can hold up to 200 coins in one album.

    However, coin albums also have the same disadvantage of coin folders. For example, if the material that the album is made out of contains some trace amounts of sulfur or acids, these can leach out of the album page and cause damage to your coin. Therefore, these must be stored in a cool and dry place in order to protect the integrity of your coins.

  • 03 of 05

    Caution: Toned Coins

    Naturally Toned Silver Copper and Nickel Coins
    Heritage Auctions,

    In the early 1900's one of the reasons that coin collecting became popular was due to the introduction of coin boards. These were large sheets of cardboard similarly constructed like coin folders except that they did not fold into convenient sizes.

    Unfortunately, the manufacturing processes at this time used acids in the cardboard and the adhesives. Over time these acids leached out of the material and caused the coins contained in them to tone. Although actual corrosion was rare, the toning of copper and silver coins sometimes produced brilliant colors, and other times ugly dark patches. Today manufacturers of coin folders and albums use acid-free materials.

  • 04 of 05

    Caution: PVC Damage

    PVC Damage to Coin
    James Bucki

    Although coin folders and coin boards do not use plastic covers to protect the coins, coin albums do. Once again, early manufacturers made the plastic slides out of plastics that contained PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in order to soften the plastic and make it more pliable.

    What they did not realize is that over time the PVC will leach out of the plastic and adhered to the surface of the coin. This chemical process leaves an ugly green slime on the coin that makes it unattractive. If left on the coin for an extended period of time, it can actually damage the coin. You can remove the PVC residue from the coin without damaging by following some simple procedures.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Caution: Slider Marks

    Hairline Scratches on a Morgan Dollar
    Heritage Auctions,

    As manufacturers of coin collecting supplies became aware of the problems associated with plastics containing PVC, they took steps to correct it. They not only started using plastics that were PVC free but did additional testing to ensure they were made of inert materials that would not chemically damage the coin.

    The downside of this solution was that the plastics were no longer soft and pliable, but hard and rigid. If collectors were not careful when removing or replacing the plastic slides that covered the coins, the edges of the plastic slide could rub across the coin and leave small scratches known as hairlines or slider marks. Normally, these are found on the highest points of the coin, but can also damage the field of the coin.