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
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
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
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
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.