By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez, COINage New Editor
In the course of my coin collecting journey, I’ve had to grapple with one of the great decisions we numismatists must all make from time to time: store the latest coin set in a folder or in an album? Both products have their advantages and disadvantages, and each works better than the other under certain circumstances.
When I was just getting into the hobby back in the early ‘90s, I was an adolescent on a budget. And my favorite series of choice then as is now? Lincoln cents. It’s easy to pluck Lincoln cents from circulation, and in most cases the pieces you’re finding in pocket change are worth very little, if anything, over face value. So, it made sense to organize my growing collection of Lincoln cents in blue Whitman folders, which were $1.99 at my local coin shop in the early ‘90s and easy to use.
As my Lincoln cent collection grew to include some of the scarcer dates, I realized I wanted a way to not only view both sides of my coins (it’s nice seeing the VDB on the back of your 1909-S VDB penny), but I also wanted to better protect my coins – such as said 1909-S VDB penny! That’s when I moved my Lincoln cent collection over to a Dansco #8100 album to include my entire Lincoln collection and also accommodate S-mint proofs – something my Whitman folders didn't do.
Yes, Dansco albums cost significantly more than my three-part run of Whitman folders for Lincoln cents (now there’s a Number Four for Lincolns made since 2014). But they protect my higher-end Lincoln cents better, too. However, my Whitman folders were much easier to pop coins in and out of for upgrading, and they also fit in a much smaller space in the vault or on the bookshelf.
Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself whether a coin folder or album is better for you and your coin collection. What you may gain in protection and attractive display opportunities with an album, you generally lose in space and affordability. I’ve personally always thought coin folders work well for lower-cost collections and albums more so for higher-end sets, regardless of the overall hobby budget. As for me, I’m going to keep on upgrading the Lincoln cents in my Dansco album while I fill an America The Beautiful Quarters Whitman folder with my pocket change finds. Alas, I still haven’t found a 2019-W quarter yet…