Keeping Track Of or Cataloging Your Coin Collection

June 11, 2010

If you're a coin collector and anything like the authors of this blog then before long you'll have a big enough collection that you won't remember where certain things came from, how much they cost you, or when you bought them. Now, you could argue that you're just collecting for the fun of it and you don't really need to know this information, but more than likely you will want to know all of it at some stage. Personally, keeping track of what we've collected is a continual problem to us, we've gone through many iterations of coin storage methods, labeling methods, and ways of cataloging our collections. We thought it might be worth showing a couple of techniques we currently use in our own collections.

Labelling Coins Effectively

Above you can see a pretty rainbow 1963Y penny in an archival safe SAFLIP coin holder. Also in the other sleeve of the holder is an acid free card insert with some coin details noted on it. You can see we've noted the country, denomination, year, and also that the coin happens to be upset. Now all of this may seem pretty obvious when viewing the coin in isolation, but imagine the above coin in an album with a hundred other coins and suddenly you've lost track of individual coin details and it's hard to remember the details of a particular coin at a glance. Also imagine the possibility of your collection being sold by your family without it being annotated correctly, it may not be sold for it's true worth at all. So you can see what the benefit is of safely writing notes on your coins once your have stored them. Probably the only improvement we'd suggest to the label above would be adding a catalogue number to it, so you can cross reference the coin with your coin catalogue. Which we'll talk about now.

Coin Catalogues

Above you can see a screenshot of a small part of the catalogue of one of the authors collection. This one happens to be kept in Microsoft Excel and keeps track of the year, date, mint, grade, purchase date, purchase location, any notes about the coin, and also an image of the coin itself. Each entry in the catalogue has a unique number and these numbers are written on the holder of the actual coin where ever it happens to be stored. This enables a coin to be taken out of a folder or storage box and the catalogue number looked up in the Excel list and all details of the coin are immediately available. Now there are a lot of advantages of using a computer to store your catalogue, it's easy to sort your list of coins, you can search quickly, and you can very easily add or remove entries. There's no reason you have to use a computer though, you could use a note book, a school exercise book or even catalogue cards. Keeping a catalogue can be a real effort though, you must keep on top of it as you add coins to your collection or it can become a lot of work just to catch up. In fact one of the authors only catalogues a small part of their collection because it's just too much work bringing one up to date with the current state of their collection. One important benefit of having a catalogue with images of the coins is for insurance purposes, it is certainly a useful document if your collection happens to be stolen or destroyed in a fire or similar. Touch wood this won't happen though!

So there's just a couple of short tips regarding annotating and cataloging your coin collection. We'd strongly recommend you at least start labeling your collection. Cataloging an entire collection can be a very daunting task but once the initial effort is overcome it is a valuable resource and quite easy to update as your collection grows.

Posted by mnemtsas at June 11, 2010 8:24 PM
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