One question I get asked a lot (well, apart from “how on earth did you get into selling money?” which is an easy answer, “because my wife said I had too much money!” I will leave it up to you if you believe that!) Where was I? Yes, the question I get asked the most is what is the best way to store my notes for the long term and in a way I can easily show them.
Not being a chemical expert, and believe it or not, I have heard some very smart people (I am not in that group I promise – but of course you know that anyway) discuss this at length, but they lose me at the first chemical equation. For us mere mortals though, I think you can’t go wrong just making sure you only use “acid free” PVC sleeves. For you technical buffs this is the definition: “acid free” implies that the material, at time of manufacture, has a pH of 7 or higher. So in conclusion, having a pH of under 7. Acidic substances can weaken the cellulose in paper materials, often causing the paper to become brittle and/or discolored.
Again, not a definitive answer, as I understand that acidity can build up over time, but if you purchase quality PVC sleeves for your notes, then you should (one should never say never – even though I just did) stay in the condition they were the day they were put into your high quality “acid free” plastic sleeve. Sadly, we have no way of knowing 100% for at least another 50 years or so when people who stored notes in “acid free” sleeves come to take them out. So for me personally, I use ‘acid free” sleeves manufactured by a company I have trusted for the storage of my notes for 10 years (with no ill effects so far). I know they produce high quality sleeves and probably not the cheapest (I have seen some very cheap sleeves from China) but when it comes to, the value of the notes, the few pennies more seems well worth so, I will go with the better quality – however, the decision is yours.
Now we can talk about how to use these sleeves to display and show your notes – let’s face it, when I receive new notes, anyone not fast enough to run away will be forced to look through them. If they stayed dazed long enough, they will be subjected to a tour of my entire collection. All joking apart, I have yet to find anyone who is not absolutely amazed by the beauty and variety of banknotes available and I have created new collectors out of people just seeing the notes (including when I am out and show them notes from my website).
Anyway, I have seen two main ways to show notes – I will start with how I do it:
- I use the 3 pocket holders and 3 ring binders (this may not work in some countries as the binders are not always 3 ring, and can be of different size) and split my binders into Continents.
- Then I use divider pages for each country (of course certain continents take more than one folder, as you collection grows).
The reason I like this is because you can see the face of the note and as you turn over the page, you can see the back.
At a little more cost, you can use the individual sleeves to put the note in, and then file in the pocket. The advantage to this is, you can print out nice labels to go on the sleeve, and when you get a new note in, it is easy to move the notes around to keep them in order. It is also nice when you want to look (or show) more closely at the note, without having to handle the note itself. The downsides are cost, the folders can get heavy with the extra sleeves, and it is easy to split the side of the pocket if you are not careful putting the sleeve in the pocket. Again, for me the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and it is nice that once the note is in the sleeve, it does not need to be handled again. Remember to use the larger note sleeves (even for the small notes) as the smaller sleeves are not tight in the holder and can fall out when you turn over the page.
The other method I have seen, is using the sleeves as described and then putting them in plastic boxes/tubs. Again, one can create a label, and it is easy to move notes around as you buy new ones. This can also take up a lot less room, if you buy nice strong plastic boxes that stack on shelfs. The downside is you can only see the front as you go through, and have to take them out to see the back. Also, these boxes, depending on size, can become heavy. Of course without having to buy the 3 pocket pages, you can save money. Folders are not cheap either if you buy good ones, which I highly recommend. For starting collecting/storing, this is a good way to start and see how you feel as your collection builds.
Finally, I did want to talk about a few of the options for the pages and the individual sleeves.
- Pages: they come in 3 sizes – 2 pocket, 3 pocket, and 4 pocket. Without trying to influence (I do keep all 3 sizes in stock) I personally would suggest going with the 3 pocket. Virtually all modern and most older notes (except some of the large German, Laos, Cambodia, etc) will fit easily into the pocket, and it keeps it uniform. The two pocket is not any wider, but is taller – however overall it is a small size sheet, which can (I can say through experience) be a little annoying.
- Individual Sleeves:
- There are 3 types as it relates to thickness. You can buy what they call a slab. This is a very expensive, in my opinion anyway, solid plastic holder that clips shut. They are quite thick and bulky, but for the very very expensive notes, they may be worth the investment, as it would be extremely hard to damage the note inside one of these slabs. Secondly we have what we call “rigid” sleeves. These are stiff (as the name suggests funnily enough) plastic sleeves, that do not bend (easily) and are very strong. Finally, you have the “semi rigid” sleeves that are flexible, but are a good cheaper alternative. (If you buy a pack of 50 they come looking like they are curled up at the ends, but when you take them out of the wrapping they are fairly straight and do not cause any harm to the note.) These are the ones I use to put inside my pockets, and the larger size ones (more on this below) fit perfectly in the 3 pocket pages.
- b) There are also 2 sizes available with these sleeves. One is called “regular bills”. I’m not sure how they got the name “regular bills” as these sleeves are 6 3/8” x 2 7/8” and to me are too small to store many regular sized banknotes. Again, nice sleeves for smaller notes, but they DO NOT fit well into the pockets if you are thinking of going this way, and actually can slide out when you turn the page. If you decide on boxes, they will work for the smaller notes, but in my opinion (which is not worth much I know), I would suggest staying with uniformity for ease of use and for aesthetics. The other size is 7 7/8” x 3 ½” which I think is perfect. Again, apart from some of the large notes, most notes will go comfortably in these sleeves, and they fit perfectly into the 3 pocket pages.
I hope this helps a little, as there is many other ways to store notes, but I did cover the two most popular options that I have seen. I am happy to try to answer any questions, and within reason I would be happy to send a sample or two. However, this is the US only. If you are outside the US I am afraid that shipping can be very expensive due to weight. Again, you can contact me and I will see what I can do, but it is just not cheap to ship these items outside the US.
Finally, I would be re-miss not to mention shipping costs, as sometimes this is more than the sleeves. On my website I have set up a system where you can buy one pack or box at a time or several. As you will see the cost will go down per item as I can bundle up multiple packs and then use the great option of “flat rate priority” again though at certain quantities I have to upgrade to the next box size and the cost then jumps again. Shipping is complicated and with the post office a moving target. However, what we are going to do is post this blog and then from now until the end of October there will be a 25% discount on all accessories. This will of course reduce the price considerably as the price includes shipping – but will also give me a chance to fine tune the cost of shipping in one pack/box and for multiple packs/boxes. This should give me a better feel of the true cost of shipping – which again is the larger part of the cost involved.
As always, I am learning from this process as accessories are a very important part of collecting and I want to help with the cost of storing you notes as much as I can – but as I say the shipping element is rocket science. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, so long as it not about rocket science or chemical equations …