One of the more perplexing things that a new collector faces is the question of how best to store and display a collection of ancient coins. No one has yet devised the perfect system for these irregular and incredibly varied artifacts, but there are several approaches which offer relatively satisfactory results.
In the early days of modern collecting, the problem of security was less pressing. Collections were primarily in the hands of nobility or clergy, who more or less eliminated any problem causers. Their collections were housed in "Cabinets" - literally as well as figuratively - with flat drawers which pulled out for viewing. A visit to some of the more venerable of Europe's numismatic firms will reward the collector with a taste of the antique as some of these magnificent cabinets are still in use today. The advantage or such a system is that the coin is easily extracted for viewing, is not obscured by any foreign material, and entire drawers of similar coins may be removed for study. Most museums use a similar or modified version of the old cabinet approach. Lined with velvet, these drawers can be quite beautiful.
There are two obvious disadvantages to the cabinet approach. The first is space. Coins layed flat in a drawer take up much more space than the same number stacked in a box. The second is security. Unless a cabinet is actually built into a safe (and some are), it is rather easily accessed. The average collector simply does not have the means to obtain or secure such a cabinet.
Alternatively, one might simply store coins in Mylar (inert) plastic flips and fill up 2x2 boxes which store easily in a bank safety deposit box or home safe. The aesthetic value of such a system is absolutely nil, but it does provide secure long-term storage for a great many coins.
There are compromises which combine to some extent the advantages of each of these systems. Stacking type trays of 8x to" or tOxl2" proportions are manufactured by several companies to house and display coins and small antiquities. Some of these are Quite lavish and facilitate a lovely display. The stacking trays will usually fit into a large safe deposit box or small home safe without too much difficulty. There are also carrying cases made for these trays to allow one to transfer them back and forth between home, bank, show or club meeting. The total number of coins is still rather limited, but nicer coins may be stored in these trays while duplicates or study pieces are placed in the 2x2 boxes. Two types of trays that we have found quite satisfactory are those produced by Abafil in Italy, and those by Lindner in West Germany. Both companies have North American representatives.
As for safety, ancient coins are not as often affected by the horrible chemical reaction caused by some flips, but any long-term storage should be in either the hard mylar type or in paper envelopes.
Another type of display that has met with varying degrees of success and popularity is the Lucile holder. Some holders are equipped with rubber inserts to conform to the varying size and shape or ancient coins. The Lucite holders provide a safe and durable method or displaying coins in areas where they might otherwise be damaged. They also allow for framing or tabletop display of small groups or single coins with both sides of the coin easily viewed.
Every system devised for storing and displaying coins has its up and down sides (pardon the pun), the collector must choose which system comes closest to satisfying his or her own interests and needs. Maybe it's just storing coins loose in a cigar box; what matters more is how much enjoyment you get from them!
Welcome to the many new readers who have joined us these past couple months. We hope you'll find The Celator to be a useful adjunct 10 your collecting pursuits as well as a means of keeping in touch with the fraternity.
We enjoyed meeting many of our East Coast readers at the New York CNB last month. By the time this is in print, we will have attended the CICF in Chicago and the Northwest Show in Minneapolis as well. Although our travel plans are still tentative, we plan to attend the Greater NY show in May, the Long Beach show in June, and the ANA in August Hope 10 see some of you there! In the meantime, keep those letters rolling in, we love to hear your point of view.