Potential Safe Deposit Box Environment Issues For Collectible Coins, Paper Money

Last Thursday, I blogged about a March 9 article on the Numismatic News website that discussed the advantages/disadvantages of keeping precious metals in bank safe deposit boxes and other “storage alternatives.”

In that piece, Pat Heller brought up a potential issue with the safe deposit box environment for collectible coins and paper money. Under “drawbacks” with these secured containers he wrote:

There is some risk of environmental damage from the chemicals used to clean that part of the building. Safe deposit boxes are not air-tight. What that means is that any harmful ingredients in the cleaning solutions, such as bleach, may leave vapors in the air which work their way onto the surfaces of whatever is in a safe deposit box. Having said this, however, it is true that we see environmental damage much more frequently to coins and paper money that were stored in damp basements or in attics than with items stored in a safe deposit box…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Hmm. Later in March I read a different piece on the Numismatic News site which highlighted another possible issue with the safe deposit box environment for collectible coins. In a March 21 blog post Dave Harper discussed a reader’s concern that safe deposit boxes constructed out of plastic rather than metal could “discolor” or “degrade the base metals” of collectible coins. Harper responded:

As for whether your rolls are safe in plastic safe deposit boxes, I have no information.

No one has written with an evaluation or experience one way or the other…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For those storing/planning to store collectible coins and paper money in safe deposit boxes, it might be wise to consider these two potential issues related to the storage environment going forward. I’m willing to guess there are products available on the market today that can effectively counter any real/potential environmental damage to such items.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)


Harper, Dave. “Is collecting fun or profit more important?” The Buzz. 21 Mar. 2017. (http://www.numismaticnews.net/buzz/collecting-fun-profit-important). 11 Apr. 2017.


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