Choosing the Best Coin Album November 16 2014
Coin albums are essential for coin collectors interested in collecting an entire set of coins, or those who just want an easy, safe, and impressive way to store and display their collection. Finding the best coin album can be a challenge, especially with so many different options on the market—that's why we've put together this helpful guide to compare and review some of the best.
The Definitive Guide to Coin Albums Chart
|Dansco Coin Albums
All U.S. coin sets, many world sets
|Intercept Shield Album
Only the most popular U.S. coin sets
Popular U.S. coin sets
Popular U.S. coin sets
Dansco albums are the clear gold standard on the market. With their handsome brown leatherette covers and sturdy craftsmanship, Dansco albums are a great option for the collector desiring a sophisticated display album for his collection. Dansco albums generally cause very little toning, even over extended periods of time, making it safe to store your copper and silver coins in them without fear of a massive change in patina. That being said, no album can entirely protect against a coin toning—this is especially true if you live in a more humid environment. It is always recommended to store your albums in a cool, dry place, preferably with dessicants (i.e. silica packets).
At one time or another, there has been a Dansco album for every series of U.S. coins, as well as many world coins. You can also build your own album with any combination of album pages (many sold individually), as the pages are easily removed and rearranged. The one aggravating thing about Dansco is that they sometimes will temporarily discontinue certain albums. Currently the very popular 7070 U.S. Type Set album is discontinued, which means that old versions of the album now sell on eBay for 3-4x their retail price. Dansco is also at the upper range of the coin album price scale, but there is a price to pay for quality. Most Dansco albums retail for around $40, which should still be a relatively insignificant sum when compared to the cost of the coins they hold.
For the collector wanting the most peace-of-mind with regards to toning and tarnishing, Intercept Shield is the way to go. Intercept Shield albums are produced with a special type of insert that neutralizes corrosive gases before they reach the coins and cause toning. Unlike Danscos, these albums come with a matching slipcase for an added layer of protection. The main drawback to Intercept Shield is that their selection of albums is somewhat limited when compared to Dansco. You can find Intercept Shield albums for the most popular series of U.S. coins, but you won't be able to find, say, a Capped Bust dimes album or even a Liberty Head nickels album.
Intercept Shield albums sell for a comparable price to Dansco albums, around $40 apiece.
At a slightly smaller budget, you'll find Littleton albums. These green albums are produced by Litteton Coin Company, a large national dealer of U.S. coins. While fairly similar in build to Intercept Shield and Dansco albums, Littleton albums are much bulkier. The album is effectively a three-ring binder, which gives it an awkward wedge shape with a very thick spine. This makes it somewhat difficult to stack these albums or put them in a bookshelf. On the flip side, the three-ring binder system makes it much easier to remove and add album pages. Littleton albums are advertised as archival-quality, but are a relatively new addition to the market—it remains to be seen how well they protect coins against toning over a period of decades. In the short-term, at least, you should have no problems with coin stability. In terms of selection, Littleton has everybody beat except Dansco. Littleton covers all the popular series of U.S. coins, as well as a number of the more obscure sets.
Most Littleton albums are priced in the $20-25 range.
The granddaddy of them all, Whitman albums have been produced continuously since the 1930s. The first Whitman coin holders were simple cardboard boards with indentations for the coins. Collectors were encouraged to glue their coins into the board—unfortunately, this made the coins difficult to remove, and the glue damage was often irreparable. Next, Whitman moved into the now ubiquitous cardboard coin folders. These folders were a great affordable way for new collectors to start putting together a set of coins. What they lacked in stability (coins in these folders often took on a dark tone over time), they made up for in price. Whitman folders can still be found today at any coin shop, and many book stores, for only a couple of dollars each.
Later on, Whitman started producing coin albums like the ones above. Whitman albums have gone through several iterations over the years—the early albums were lightweight (even somewhat flimsy) and not designed to protect against toning. The more recent Whitman coin albums are similar in quality to those of the other competitors in the market. Whitman covers all of the more popular series of U.S. coins, but is still limited compared to Dansco's selection.