Thousands of collectors have ruined their coins thanks to a very common chemical known as Polyvinylchloride, or PVC.
Many plastic items contain PVC. PVC is often found in the piping that plumbers use in homes and businesses. PVC is also found in a variety of other plastic items, including many older coin holders. This is bad.
Why? Because PVC can damage coins. The damage to coins contained inside coin holders made with PVC is often irreversible and causes coins to lose much, if not most, of their value.
Why would PVC ever be used anyway?
PVC was popular in coin holders during the 1970s because the chemical allowed plastic coin holders to be pliable.
However, during the early 1980s, the dangers of PVC became known, and production of coin holders containing PVC soon declined.
Many of the old PVC coin holders still exist, and you have to be careful to not accidentally place any of your coins within them.
First things first:
- It is generally safe to assume most plastic coin holders made today will not contain PVC. But double check the coin holder’s packaging to make sure!
- Assume any plastic holder made many years ago probably does contain PVC.
- If a coin has severe PVC damage, you will be able to tell because the coin will typically show signs of corrosion. Coins with PVC damage usually look green in some areas.
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!