Handling your Coins, Tokens, and Notes

Improper and frequent handling of coins or notes can significantly diminish their numismatic value. Here are some tips to help you handle your coins with care.

    • Handle coins, tokens, and notes only when absolutely necessary!
    • Avoid touching the surface of a coin with your fingers. Coins should always be held by their edges. You can also wear nitrile or cotton gloves while handling them. Your fingers contain oils and acids that can damage the surface of a coin or paper bank note.
    • When viewing a coin, always place it on a soft surface such as a felt pad. Dropping a coin on a hard surface can result in nicks or scratches.
    • Store your coins and notes in transparent holders so that they stay protected while you examine them. For some ideas on how to store your collection go to the links to the Canadian Conservation Institute below.
    • If coins are being shipped, it is important to package them properly so that the coins cannot bump against each other. Ideally, each coin should be packaged individually with appropriate padding.

      Handling your coins, tokens, and notesStoring and displaying your coins, tokens and notes

      • Protect your coins and paper money from high humidity and heat. Store them in a cool and dry place. Although some people keep their coins and bank notes in the attic or in the basement, these are not good storage spaces. The high temperatures sometimes found in attics lead to the deterioration of bank notes. Basements are often too humid and this can lead to the development of mould on paper and corrosion on metal coins and tokens.
      • Display your collection away from direct sunlight. Exposure to sunlight can cause a note’s ink to fade while the paper itself can deteriorate and become brittle.
      • Ensure that all material used for storing and displaying your notes and coins are PVC-free and acid-free. Otherwise your storage materials may actually be contributing to the deterioration of your collection. For some ideas on how to store your collection go to the links to the Canadian Conservation Institute below.

      Cleaning your coins, tokens, and notes

      Never, never, never clean rare coins or coins you intend to sell! The Currency Museum does not recommend cleaning coins. Any attempt to improve the appearance of a coin, unless done by a professional, can cause damage to the piece and reduce its market value. Most collectors and dealers refuse to buy cleaned coins. Don’t clean your paper money or try to repair it! Whenever you attempt to clean or repair paper money, you risk damaging it further. Only experts, called paper conservators, should repair paper money. If you need to contact a paper conservator, you may want to ask a well-known numismatic or art museum, or an archival library.

      Resources for coins, tokens and notes

      Researching and identifying currency is not rocket-science if you know where to look. Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, books, catalogues, and websites are there to help.

      © 2014 Bank of Canada. Contact us. Read our privacy statement.