Summary of discussion on Numism-l List Archive from 98-01 to 99-05

From: Lionel Silva 
Date: 1998 Feb 11 22:06:04 -0800
Subject: NUM: safe storage of ancients (and modern) coins

Currently my coins are kept in a bank safe deposit box.  I have been
considering getting a home safe to keep some or all of them here at
home.  What kinds do you recommend?  I have heard that many (all?)
fire proof safes exude moisture inside the safe that could damage
coins over the long run.  How have you handled this?

From: Ken Dorney Date: 1998 Feb 10:55:15 EST Sentry brand safes are I think the industry 'giant'. I've got one at home and it works pretty well. However, I also keep a container of silica gel inside to absorb any moisture. It works well, and is reusable.
From: Mark Robia Date: 1998 Feb 12 10:53:09 -0600 I have been researching safes recently because it is so inconvenient to trek to the bank every time I want to look at my coins. I live in a far northern area with winter temps to -40 F and summer sometimes 90+ F. Does anyone think this might be harmful to coins? I still wonder about what happens to other metals at low temps like in my garage in January.
From: Tony Clayton Date: 1998 Feb 13 22:07:21 GMT I suspect the only problems will be due to condensation during the spring as the weather warms up while the safe is still cold. The only real problem could be if you have any tin coins in your collection, as in very low temperatures these will revert to the non-metallic grey form resulting in a small pile of powder!
From: James Murphy Date: 1998 Feb 12 20:01:28 EST I have to agree with Ken Dorney on the use of silica gel packets. They are especially good for safes like the Sentry brand. These are designed as fire safes, they have a layer of some moist material which keeps the interior of the safe from getting too hot during a fire. The problem is the inside of the safe can get very moist whether you live in a dry or humid area. The silica gel packs can usually be recharged by putting them in an oven at about 200 F. You can follow the individual instructions that come with it. One that I like for small safes (about 2-3 cu ft.) is from Hydro-sorb which Brooklyn Coin Gallery sells. Over time moisture can really wreak havoc on your collection. A vault is like a safe except that it doesn't have the fire lining. You usually put it in the ground. So for that guy up north who has to put the safe in the garage maybe he should look into a vault since the temperature swings won't be as wide with an inground vault but it is more expensive and more work. Thanks
From: John S. Altemueller Date: 1998 Jun 26 02:14:47 -0500 Given the recent posts about theft and loss how does one best insure a personal coin collection ? Is it wise to attach a rider to one's homeowners insurance or is there a better solution?
From: Guy Clark Date: 1998 Jun 26 10:22:14 -0400 For the average collector one of the best ways I have found is to join the ANA and take advantage of the Wohler's policy they offer. I'm not necessarily promoting the ANA but the rates are very competitive and they don't send you through nearly as many hoops as most companies. They also have various rates for various types of storage and will insure up to $15,000 (I think) for 'carrying around' situations. In addition, my company (State Farm) and many others will simply laugh at you - they don't do it. You have to be an ANA member, but for this policy it's worth it. Just wish dealer's could use it - the rates are better.
From: Michael K. Davis Date: 1998 27 Jun 12:14:45 EDT From what little research I've done on this topic, I conclude that riders to homeowner's insurance (which are usually based on the value of your collection) are very expensive and probably not worth it if your coins just sit around the house all the time. A better solution (at least for me) is a safety deposit box with a local bank near my office. While I do not have the pleasure of looking at my collection every day, at least I know my collection is safe (and nearby for lunchtime visits during the work-week). Plus, at a mere $60 per year, you can't beat the price of a saftey deposit box with insurance. HOWEVER, If you frequently travel with a large number of your coins, insurance may be your wisest option. You should confirm that homeowners insurance would cover you for such things as: leaving the house with your coins; theft at a coin show; new acquisitions (without needing a new rider every time); and whatever other applicable twists you can come up with.
From: Marshall Faintich <73362.2302@COMPUSERVE.COM> Date: 1998 Jun 27 15:00:40 -0400 Unless he has a special arrangement with his bank, it should be noted that items contained in a safety deposit box are not insured against damage, loss, or theft by the bank. It is the responsibility of the owner to insure his goods stored in a safety deposit box. While a bank safety deposit does offer very good protection, banks have been known to be robbed,and destroyed by fire, floods, and earthquakes. Best bet is to store coins in a safety deposit box, and get insurance that discounts the premium for bank storage. ANA/Wohler's offers pretty good rates.
From: Chad Osborne Date: 1998 Oct 22 19:46:38 -0700 Letters go through the machines, and if there is a coin in them, they are more likely to be damaged, which costs you a serious delay (trust me, I've been through this once) and costs the post office money. Padded envelopes do not go through the machines. Therefore, the post office discourages use of envelopes for sending anything other than paper. Unless you're mailing REALLY inexpensive coins, or huge numbers of envelopes, the added expense of padded envelopes (less than $.50 each in bulk) is worth the trouble.
From: Frank S. Robinson Date: 1998 Oct 23 08:21:39 EDT The correct answer on this is that First Class mail is insurable, but if it is not in a box, it is technically supposed to say on the outside, "First Class mail, 3rd class matter enclosed." (The 3rd class matter is the merchandise). In practice, I don't bother to do that, mailing hundreds of such packages a year, and it's been a very long time since a postal clerk balked. Postal clerks are allowed to refuse to insure something if the packaging looks insecure. It is a bad idea to mail a coin with nothing in the way of protective padding. I normally use thin cardboard that I cut up myself rather than buy the corrugated stuff. I also tape the cardboard inside the envelope to make it essentially impossible for the contents to separate from the envelope. (I got tired of phone calls from customers saying "your package arrived but it was empty.") For ancient silver coins that may not be of the best metal quality, more padding is advisable. (I've also gotten tired of customers calling to say, "the coin arrived but was broken.")
From: Ken Dorney Date: 1998 Oct 24 02:18:19 EDT Frank is right. Silver is something that should usually be mailed in a padded envelope. I too have had silver coins broken in shipping using safe-t-mailers (corrugated cardboard). I mail thousands of coins each year and since about a year ago I have switched to using all padded buble mailers.
From: Vince Mooney Date: 1998 Oct 23 08:13:17 -0500 Thanks for all the responses to my mail question; there seems, however, to be no general agreement so far. List members experiences have been quite different. I just want to add that the 4 envelops I tried to send were over-sized brown envelopes, the coins were in flips, inside self-sticking cardboard wrapping, surrounded by three 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper -- the envelops were "fat" and were not subject to going through a cancelling machine. It was in this condition that they were turned down for insurance. The clerk offered to get his manager but when the other 3 experienced clerks nearby who were listening said nothing, I decided he was right and did not ask to see the manager. I got the impression that even if I used padded envelops, I could not insure the coins. Now I don't know. Also, the post office might be like the military where, in many cases, you can do things as long as you don't ask permission... if you ask permission, they have to turn you down.