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You know, the ones with the picture of the coin on the front and cardboard with lots of little round holes inside.
Everyone Uses Blue Folders!
Lots of people who know little or nothing about collecting have at least one of these — say for Lincoln pennies or the new state quarters — and they will occasionally put coins from their pocket change in them to try to build a full set.
Some people have specific criteria about what they’ll put in their folder (such as, only shiny pennies or perfect quarters). And some even go to coin shows or coin shops occasionally to get the coins they haven’t been able to find themselves.
Some people are a bit more involved than this of course, such as someone with a folder for Mercury dimes who might spend $15-$20 a week online or at the local coin shop filling new spaces in their folder.
The Fun & Simple Goal: To Complete A Folder
Back in the early to mid-twentieth century (1930s to 1960s or later), it was common for some coin shops to make certain offers regarding these folders, such as “Complete your Lincoln penny folder and we’ll pay X amount for it!”
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, this was an avid hobby pursued by many Americans in the hopes of reaping the reward of a completed folder of Lincoln wheat pennies.
As far as I know, coin shops don’t really make these kinds of flat offers anymore, but they will certainly take a look at a completed folder and make an offer for it if it’s something they want.
A few helpful guidelines:
- If your folder is for a current coin series such as Lincoln memorial pennies or Washington quarters, Roosevelt dimes or half dollars after 1964, a coin dealer is not likely to take much interest unless all of the coins are in uncirculated (shiny with no wear) condition.
- If your collection is of an earlier series, such as Indian or wheat pennies, or older pre-1965 dimes, quarters, etc. they will definitely take an interested look regardless of condition, though they will pay more for higher condition coins.
- Coin shops especially like it if all the coins in your folder are in similar condition. Most coin collectors think a folder is less desirable if half the coins are well-worn and the others are perfect.
Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to fill your folders with coins in similar conditions, and to collect older coin series if you can afford to. But collect something you like! If you think Washington quarters are ugly, don’t collect them.
A few last notes on what to put in your folders and how:
- It’s usually not a good idea to take expensive ($50+), high-grade coins out of their holders to put in your folder. They are best preserved in their sealed or semi-sealed holders. Especially don’t take coins out of sealed plastic holders that have been graded by a professional grading company! Much of their value is in the authenticity that holder has given them.
- Don’t put coins in your holders with your fingers. The oils and other debris on your fingers can lead to distracting and unsightly blemishes on your coins over time. A finger will do in a pinch, but only handle coins by their edges and push them into the holder with a small piece of cloth if they are really important to you.
As you can see those little folders are more interesting than they might seem. Have fun collecting and I will be back later on with an examination of just how much those completed folders might be worth!
I’ve been a coin collector and a rare book and collectible dealer for over 15 years. My primary areas of interest are U.S. silver coins and older paper currency.