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Conservation.  Doing everything possible to protect numismatic and medallic specimens from damage and destruction; preserving for future study. Die-struck metal objects are one of the easiest to conserve. They do not have the problems of other artifacts, as paper, textile or organic objects, for example. Coins and medals are intended to be permanent. Being struck in metal fulfills this intent. They do not break or crumble; they do not need the controlled conditions of temperature or humidity that other objects require. They can endure and survive extreme cold, and heat up to just below their melting point. They are virtually impervious to humidity (except, of course, iron objects which may rust). Other environmental conditions are easy to control, with obvious knowledge (as chemical contact with corrosive compounds, acid for example).

Having established the ease of environmental factors to conserve coins and medals, they are best preserved in trays. The most valuable items can be stored in shallow boxes (which have the advantage of being able to be captioned – data identifying the item applied to the box), and these can be lined with thin cotton batting if desired. Trays can be lined with cloth that is sulfur-free, or tissue that is antitarnish paper. The industry of collectors' supplies have created products in the 20th century of further protection including albums, plastic holders, capsules, envelopes and such. The industry of encapsulating coins and medals – in plastic slabs – grew popular in the late 20th century.

The greatest enemy of coins and medals are being dropped or having sharp objects dropped on them creating nicks and dents. To overcome this is the care in handling everyone in contact with them must exercise.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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