At first you may be skeptical of the information in this section, but it’s important advice that will stay with you as long as you collect.
We all are used to touching and holding coins. You pull out a handful and spend them, or pay for something and put the rest back in your pocket or purse. How did you hold the coins you used?
Most likely you made one of the most common of mistakes in handling coins for a collection. You held the coin between your thumb and finger, pressed on the front and back of the coin, what collectors call the obverse and reverse of the coin.
If you touch a coin like that, it is generally not a problem, since most circulated coins show obvious wear when you look at them. However, for an uncirculated or proof coin, you just damaged the coin. The natural oils in your skin will etch a fingerprint or a thumbprint into the surface of the coin in a matter of minutes. Once the fingerprint is on the coin it’s impossible to remove without further damaging the coin.
Always hold a coin by the edge, never the faces.
It’s a good habit to get into, even with common, circulated coins. To prevent damage to a coin you are examining, hold the coin by its edges with your thumb and forefinger. Handling coins this way is good practice for when you hold rare of valuable coins.
If you are working with upper-grade, uncirculated or proof coins, a pair of lintless cotton gloves is strongly recommended. Latex or plastic gloves are not recommended because they often have powder or lubricants on them that may damage the coin. Also, consider placing a thick, soft cloth under the coin as you are holding it, just in case you slip or drop the coin. This will prevent damage to the coin that might come from it impacting a hard surface.
Guide to Coin Collecting – Index