Protecting Your Rare Coins and Yourself


1g31A little over a year ago, news of the Saddle Ridge Hoard of more than $10 million in value of rare coins put coin collecting in the national spotlight. The Saddle Ridge Hoard is fascinating, because you wonder why they were hoarded in the first place, and why (seemingly) no one knew they were buried there. Speculation is that a coin collector became increasingly paranoid about the risk to his investment, buried it in the backcountry, and told no one of its whereabouts. Certainly that’s one way to maintain security, but there are much better ways to mitigate risks to your collection.

When you collect rare coins, somewhere along the line you become aware of your vulnerability in possessing something so valuable, portable, and easily saleable. An awareness of vulnerability can evolve either after you begin to amass a larger collection, when you acquire a particularly fine specimen, or if you inherit a collection. Most coin collectors develop certain habits over time that can help to maintain security for their rare coins and for themselves.

By following a few good practices to protect your coins and yourself, you can lower your vulnerability to robbers and opportunists. Below are some tips for situations where rare coins and their collectors are vulnerable:

  • In the home: If you choose to store your collection within your own home, it’s a good idea to secure your rare coin collection in a safe. A wide range of safes are available to coin collectors, from gun safes to regular safes to fire safes. Many coin experts will advise against storing coins in gun safes, which are generally not very burglar proof. Others will tell you that fire safes tend to be easily portable, and provide a moist environment that is potentially damaging to coins. The best bet is usually a regular safe, which should be UL rated with a bugler entry time of at least 15 minutes (TL-15) and have a minimum Class C fire rating, bolted to the floor. Depending on the value of your collection and the security of your area, consider an alarm system as well.
  • In storage: A bank safe-deposit box may be the best place for the majority of your rare coins, or at least the most valuable part of your collection. Keep an inventory of everything in your safe-deposit box, and examine the coins occasionally to verify the condition of your rare coins, since nothing affects coin values like deterioration from exposure to moisture and chemicals.
  • At a coin show: As a Grand Rapids coin dealer, we travel to many different shows, all with varying levels of security and different security practices. Usually a registration process is used to verify the identity of all attendees, but even so, thieves can be attracted to the sheer number of rare coins at a coin show. To avoid becoming an unwitting target for thieves, make sure to remove your badge as soon as you exit the show. And if you take coins to a coin show, either to exhibit or with intent to sell your collection, don’t leave them in the trunk of your car at any point. When driving to and from a coin show, never leave your car unattended and carefully plan how to transport your coins to and from your vehicle so they are with you at all times.
  • When transporting: If traveling by plane, be especially careful of the security checkpoint at the airport. The security personnel will often want to search you if you are transporting rolls of coins, and you should insist on a private search. If you travel by taxi, be careful not to haul your collection in the trunk, where it could drive away without you.

Whether you’re a collector or an investor, protect your own identity and interest in rare coins at all times. Consider renting a post office box for all magazines and correspondence about coins, as well as any coins you may send or receive through the mail. If you’re a collector with an interest in sharing your coins, display them at a coin show rather than in your home. And finally, be careful who you talk to about your hobby or specifics of your collection.

Regardless of what precautions you take, like any valuable item, there is always a chance of becoming victim of theft. Just in case, it’s a good idea to verify that your coins are covered by insurance. Along with that, you can easily take digital photos of your coins, and keep an inventory of your collection in a safe place (separate from the coins themselves). These measures won’t protect you, but they will help ease the burden of a theft.

Imagine that, at this very moment, some coin collector is storing their hoard in the ground, where it will be discovered 100 years from now. For most people, a few reasonable security measures are all it takes to protect a collection, ensuring your enjoyment and the value of your investment for years to come. If you have more specific questions about securing your own rare coins, contact Grand Rapids Coins

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