If you’re looking for something for the kids to do over the summer then you could do a lot worse than encouraging them to start a coin collection. They don’t have to dive straight in and spend a fortune – they could buy a few junk silver coins from Golden Eagle Coin at first – but they do have to have the right equipment to make a good go of it.
The coin holders
Holders are vital if you want to prevent the coins from getting scratched or damaged. If your kids are starting out with coins from yard sales and metal detecting, then a simple wooden box will do the job. However, if they’re actually going to coin sales or dealers, even for cheap coins, then they’ll need special holders. Kept in a box, coins clink against each other and get scratched, so if they’re even remotely valuable, this should be prevented.
The cheapest and most popular option is the flip holder. Made from Mylar, these cases are usually 2” by 4” with a pocket on either side. One side is for the coin itself and the other accommodates the paper slip with all the coin’s details on it. There’s a pre-formed space for the coin, which slots in before the case is folded over and stapled shut.
Avoid PVC pockets as PVC can release gases that cause tarnish.
A flat-clinch stapler
This is an important distinction – regular staplers leave two bumps where the arms of the staple connect and this can cause it to work itself loose over the years. Flat-clinch staplers embed these arms into the cardboard or plastic, out of the way.
Albums and folders
Folders and albums are cheaper than flip holders, but you can only see one side of the coin. They’re ideal for kids, though, because they’re cheap – perfect for junk store finds. Once they move up a bit, albums allow you to see both sides of the coins and they offer plastic inserts to protect the coins’ faces.
A magnifier and a light
Even with their excellent kid-eyesight, they’ll still need a light and a magnifying glass. Avoid fluorescent lights, as these can wash out the surface of the coin, masking imperfections. Halogens show up each and every tiny flaw. Good old incandescents are the best lights to use.
When it comes to the magnifying glasses, they’ll need a hand lens with a 2X or 3X power, as well as a jeweler’s loupe at 10X to 15X.
Apart from the magnifiers, it’s the special gloves that kids tend to like most. They’re also very important, as the grease, dirt, and acids (grease is acidic) on human hands can damage the finish on newly-minted coins and make slightly worn coins even more so. Children aren’t known for their good hand hygiene, so donning a pair of cotton or nitrile gloves will help no end.
A soft cloth or pad
In reality, this can be a cleanly-laundered thick towel, but leave out the fabric conditioner, as this can cause tarnish. This pad is placed on the table that you handle the coins on, where it prevents dings if a coin is dropped. It’ll also stop any coins rolling onto the floor.