The Uses of Coin Flips in Your Collection

Advantages and Disadvantages of Coin Flips

Plastic Coin Flip with Paper Insert

James Bucki

A coin flip is a small PVC, Mylar, or plastic pocket that folds in half, and is designed to hold one coin. Coin flips usually measure two inches square when folded, but they also come in 1.5 inch and 2.5 inch sizes.

Usually, a collector or dealer puts a coin in the pocket of one side of the flip, and puts a small piece of paper or card, called an insert, in the other pocket which identifies the coin. Coin flips are most frequently used for ancient coins because the catalog information for ancients will not fit on the standard cardboard 2x2.

Sometimes the flip is cut in half where the fold is, so that you have just a little 3-sided pocket, with the opening across the top, into which the coin is placed.

Advantages

  • One of the major advantages of coin flips over other coin holders is that you can easily remove the coin from the coin flip. This type of coin holder allows you to inspect the coin with a magnifying glass or microscope without the distortion or glare from the plastic.
  • Another advantage of using coin flips is their relatively small size. Rows of coins can be stored in a 2 x 2 cardboard box that can hold between fifty and 100 coins in their respective flips. This type of storage allows a dealer or collector to organize and reorganize their collection as it changes over time.
  • Remember, you should always purchase coin flips that are made out of Mylar. You can quickly tell if a coin flip is made out of Mylar because it will be a stiffer plastic than those made with PVC. Additionally, coin flips made with PVC have a "plastic smell" to them. Avoid coin flips with PVC at all cost.

Disadvantages

  • One of the most significant drawbacks of using coin flips is that some of them are made with plastic that contains PVC. PVC is a chemical that is used in plastic to make it soft and pliable. Unfortunately, it can leach out of the plastic and deposit itself onto the surface of your coins. When left on the surface of the coin it can cause irreparable PVC damage to your coin. It is most commonly evidenced by green slime on the coin.
  • Also, if you do not handle the coin correctly, it can fall out of the coin flip and get damaged. Additionally, since coin flips are not sealed, moisture and pollutants in the environment can seep into the coin flip and damage your coin. Although very few coin holders are airtight, coin flips provide a large area for air (with any pollutants) to circulate around your coins. Coin collectors that live near the ocean should be especially careful when selecting holders for their coin collection.
  • Finally, safe coin flips made out of Mylar are harder plastic than the flips made with PVC which can chemically damage your coins. The drawback is the hard plastic can scratch the surface of your coin when you remove it and replace it back in the flip. Be very careful not to let the coin slide across the sharp edge of the opening to the pocket.

Going Beyond the Basics

It is not a good idea to store your coins in plastic coin flips for longer than a few weeks unless the flips are made of Mylar, because they can cause PVC damage to your coins. You can purchase custom cardboard boxes for you to store your coin collection that is housed in plastic flips. Make sure the cardboard boxes that you are buying are archival quality and contain no acid. Additionally, make sure your store your collection in a cool and dry place. Regardless of how you decide to store your coin collection, humidity will ruin almost any coin collection.

If you are collecting rare and expensive coins, you may want to choose a more durable holder for your coins. Professional numismatists recommend that you should have rare and expensive coins encapsulated by third-party grading service. This process will ensure the authenticity of the coin and that an expert has graded it. These coins are then encapsulated in a hard plastic housing that protects the coin from damage.

Edited by: James Bucki