How to Properly Handle Banknotes
By | July 20, 2016

While several countries have switched plasticized fabrics for their banknotes (Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, for instance), most paper money is still just that—paper. And while even paper money paper has a number of special and even high-tech components, it’s still fragile enough that it typically only lasts about two years in circulation before it’s too worn or damaged to use. That’s why paper banknote collectors need to take special precautions in handling them to keep them in good condition to retain their numismatic (collectible) value.

Store Flat to Avoid Creases, Folds and Tears

The first thing a note grader will look for is creases and tears. It’s extremely rare to find a circulated note without some creasing or folding. Once in public hands, the notes are kept in wallets, money clips, or just stuffed into pockets and purses. Even bank-fresh notes can show some signs of handling from packaging and counting, so collectors should take care to not add any further problems by carefully storing notes so they stay flat and safe from more damage, preferably in bill holders designed for the purpose.

Handle with Clean Hands and Cotton Gloves to Keep Dirt and Oil-Free

Oils and dirt from handling are another concern. While modern printers and banks handle and count bills by machine, sooner or later somebody gets their grubby mitts on them, even if it’s only the bank teller and you. Collectible notes should only be handled with clean hands, and clean cotton gloves are even better, especially when handling high-value notes. The more a note is handled, the more likely it is to become contaminated with skin oils, dirt and other impuritieslike hand lotions, sweat and peanut butter.

Protect from Environmental Damage

Notes can be damaged by environmental factors, too. Sunlight can fade inks, air pollution can permeate and damage the paper, and high humidity can ruin it. Always keep valuable bills safe in numismatically-approved transparent bill holders and only take them out when absolutely necessary. And be careful removing and returning the bill to its holder.

Take Good Care of Your Banknotes for Future Collectability and Investment

Collecting currency from around the world is a popular way to learn history and geography while gathering interesting and beautiful designs that give insights into a nation’s character. And as rarer banknotes increase in collectability, it can also be a good investment. That’s why it’s important to take care of your collectible banknotes so they can stand the test of time.

The Great American Coin Company® is pleased to offer a wide selection of U.S. and foreign banknotes and coins available for both seasoned and beginning collectors. Our inventory is constantly changing, so be sure to check back often.

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