Collectors and investors were the first adaptors when it came to the introduction of slabs in 1986. Now, the scholarly community has joined.
Some 200 rarities in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian?s National Museum of American History were placed in customized plastic holders donated by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
The Smithsonian took this step because the coins are the most frequently handled.
?We are pleased to be able to provide superb protection for these rare objects while at the same time extending access to the research community,? said Brent D. Glass, museum director.
Glass said the project is a collaboration between the museum, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Numismatic Conservation Services, which donated their services and developed the holders to meet museum specifications. NGC also provided the materials necessary to re-house the coins, along with two storage cabinets which will offer enhanced security for these numismatic treasures.
?NGC is privileged to work with the museum,? said Mark Salzberg, chairman of NGC.
David J. Camire, president of NCS, added ?The focus that the museum has put on the long-term preservation of the NNC should be strongly commended. It?s a great privilege to commit our resources and energy to this important initiative.?
The 200 holders are made of inert mold-injected resin and the label, identifying the coin in it, is printed on acid-free paper. The holder?s overall size is roughly 60 mm wide by 85 mm tall. It can accommodate coins up to 45 mm in diameter and nearly 5 mm thick. Coins are placed in pre-molded cores that are semi-rigid and then encapsulated in a clear outer shell.
Traditionally, coins in museum collections are stored in open trays.
Prior to the re-housing effort, the Smithsonian said it conducted rigorous materials analysis and testing to establish the long-term safety of all of the components used in the manufacture of the holders. Results indicate that the holders will remain inert and stable for decades into the future.
Because of the emphasis on the long-term preservation of the collection, the pilot project also will include regular inspections of the re-housed coins by the curatorial staff.
The museum?s National Numismatic Collection consists of more than 1.5 million objects, including coins, medals and paper currency, and preserves the role of money in economic history.
The museum is closed for major renovations and will reopen in fall 2008. For information about the museum, please visit http://americanhistory.si.edu.