Storing Your Paper Money Collection -
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There aren't very many options for safe banknote storage viable for today's paper money collector concerned about preserving and protecting their foreign currency collection.
• Sleeves versus Sheets --- You are going to want to store your collection in a manner that also allows for display when you want to show it off. This basically leaves plastic holders that allow you to see both sides of the banknote while keeping it completely protected.
These plastic holders come in a variety of types. One of the most popular fits into a 3-ring binder or fits into a special binder designed for currency (the special binders can be quite expensive.) The binder sheets come in a few sleeve configurations: one big sleeve, two sleeves, three sleeves, four sleeves or even six sleeves (designed for baseball cards but works well for small currency like notgelds.)
There are also plastic envelopes or loose single sleeves (of various sizes) which are sealed only along the bottom edge or sealed along the bottom and two sides to allow access to the sleeve through the top. These sleeves and the enclosed banknotes can be easily accessed when stored in drawers or boxes by country name.
I believe the latter method using drawers and individual sleeves allows the greatest flexibility for a collection to grow with a minimum of handling unprotected banknotes.
• PVC versus Mylar --- Once you decide whether you want to use binder storage or a drawer type storage system containing sleeves you are ready to move onto the MOST IMPORTANT issue: what type of plastic holders do you use?
This is most important because if you choose wrong your whole collection can be destroyed by the plastic you thought was protecting it. The off-gassing from plastics containing PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) is extremely harmful to paper products (I've heard one of the by products of PVC off-gassing when combined with humidity from the atmosphere is hydrochloric acid). After some number of years (I've heard anywhere from 20 to 50 years) of storage in a plastic product containing PVC, paper products dry out completely making them brittle to the touch. After an extreme number of years, your banknotes may disintegrate in your hands when you eventually try to remove them from their sleeves. The PVC can also cause a brown discoloration after a number of years as well.
You want to make sure you only buy and use MYLAR EQUIVALENT plastic products to store your banknotes (and all paper collectibles for that matter). Mylar is a brand name for a plastic product that is archival safe. There are equivalent products on the market as well that may be a little less expensive.
I'm told the best way to tell Mylar equivalent plastics from PVC plastics is the smell. If it smells strongly like plastic, it contains PVC. If it does not smell strongly then it is probably Mylar or an equivalent product.
Most dealers carry the binders, sheets, sleeves or envelopes you need to store your collection but some don't freely offer information about PVC versus Mylar. Make sure you ask before you buy and then try to check for yourself as well.
• Other Considerations --- Naturally you also want to store your binders or drawers in a location that is safe from liquid damage, UV light damage from windows, child damage and even fire damage if possible.
Also, whenever you are showing off your collection, be sure to instruct people viewing it as to proper handling to avoid damage due to ignorance. Many people just don't know how fragile and special the banknotes are. People often want to take them out of their protective sleeves but that is just asking for trouble. At the very least they'll get oils from their hands on the paper which can discolor it after too much handling.
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