Storage and Organization of Penny Collection

As you can see by my previous posts it has been a pretty busy summer.  I’ll be honest with you that was actually not as busy as some previous years.  When I first really started getting into the hobby about 5-6 years ago I would spend every weekend driving to a different part of New Jersey collecting all the coins listed on the website for the state.  It kept me busy and I enjoyed every minute of it, but my car definitely paid a toll. Have you ever driven on the New Jersey Turnpike?  Suspension and tire destroyer is all I will say.

Now that the summer has come and gone my vacation days at work have disappeared for another year.  This is always a great time to try to get all my recent coin acquisitions organized and stored properly for their permanent display.  I usually try to do this within a few days of coming back from a collecting mission, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen and they start to pile up.

This is purely my process and everyone should try out different methods and pick what works best for you.  I’m a little (ok a lot) anal retentive when it comes to this part but thought it would be beneficial to walk you through it anyways.

In addition to this blog I also have a website where I keep my penny collection listed with a map of the US and Canada showing all the places I have collected coins from and others still undiscovered.  First I always take my new pennies and scan them into my computer so I can eventually add them to the website.  With that done I then take each coin and use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe away any smudges, dirt or fingerprints.  You can Google other ways to clean the coins, I usually only used brilliant uncirculated pre-1982 coins (we will discuss this in more detail in another post) so most of my pennies are already pretty clean and don’t require any major cleaning procedures.

2x2 holder

I then place each coin in a cardboard 2×2 coin holder.  These can be purchased in most coin collecting stores, and definitely online.  A fellow TEC Member Oded Paz (and former President of TEC) sells a lot of really high quality collecting supplies and I’ve used him in the past, he really is great to work with.  You can check out his website at  They usually come in packages of 50 or 100 and are pretty cheap.  I usually try to stock up on them once a year so I always have them on hand.

flat clinch

Another necessity is a flat clinch stapler and staples to lock the coin in place in the cardboard holder.  As you can see from the picture above this avoids the bending of the staples and keeps everything nice and flat.  Next I use my computer to create custom labels for each coin.  I used to just hand write them but I quickly realized that I have terrible handwriting so using the computer was a much better option.  When I first started doing this I had gone through a few different ink-jet printer labels before I found the one that fit my needs.  Usually it is listed as “Return Address” label but the size is usually 1/2″ x 1 3/4″.


There are many different types and I usually just buy a big package of whatever is the cheapest.  All computer word processors come with templates for each of these labels and you just need to locate the correct one.  Then I start typing in the information.  Usually across the top of the label I list the State abbreviation and then the location and a number if more than one machine was at that location.  For example when I visited Sesame Place which is in Pennsylvania and had three machines I used the following for the first machine “PA – Sesame Place #1”.  Then I leave a blank line and following that I give a brief description of the image on the coin.

storage 4

Once I have the labels created on my computer I just print them out and stick them on.  In most cases I want to make sure the entire coin is visible through the cardboard holder so I cut the label in half so the location is listed at the top and the design description across the bottom.  Then I place each one into a 20 pocket 2×2 coin page for three-ring binders.  Now an important note about these pages.  There are a lot of cheap ones available online, however you want to make sure you find ones that do not have the harmful PVC in them.  Then I store these pages in large three-ring binders that I buy at my local office supply store.  Usually I get 3-inch binders for most of my collecting, but I do have special binders just for Walt Disney World which has a lot of coins so I get a larger 4 or 5 inch binder to accommodate.

storage 3Each of my binders usually contains two to three states worth of coins only just to try to help keep them organized and make it easy to add additional coins in the future.  Each binder always has a section at the back for retired designs.  Anytime a location updates their machine with new pennies I make a new label with the above process however I add “Retired 2014” or whatever the year is that the design was removed.  These go at the back so I can keep all the retired designs together.  I also like to create special binder spine labels that list each state contained in that binder, and I also try to design a cover that includes some of the penny designs collected.

storage 2

Once all the coins have been stored in their appropriate binder I have small bookshelves in my basement that I keep them all together.  The bookshelves are right beside my office desk that I use when doing all the above so everything is within arms length when needed.

storage 1

I won’t get into the details of how I add the pictures of the coins to my website as is can get a little technical and I barely understand the process myself.  But feel free to stop by and check it out:  I primarily use it for my own cataloging purposes.  Every so often I do receive coins from other collectors or friends that know I collect them and find some on their own travels.  These are always appreciated but I usually don’t list them directly on my website as I keep that purely for just the coins I have personally collected.  I always like to see where I’ve gone and the places I still need to visit.  It’s a big country and I’ve got a lot of exploring still to do.