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When the unthinkable happens

There are no words to adequately express sympathy for the people of Houston.

They have suffered from Hurricane Harvey and flooding that has followed.

I am sure the American people will rally and pitch in to help in the rebuilding.

Once we reach the point where people are looking to salvage their possessions, questions will begin arising about damage to coins.

Most collectors have them in safe places and don’t have to worry

Some will have modern cardboard packaging and Certificates of Authenticity completely ruined.

Such packaging will be just so much trash.

A conservation service can help with removing contaminants and dirt from any reasonably valuable coins.

We are being told there are chemicals in the flood waters.

Long-term exposure to chemicals can damage the surface of coins.

That brings me to the plastic cases the U.S. Mint has been using to house proof sets since 1968.

They are not watertight.

They look like they could be.

This can lead to disappointment.

Collectors who suffered from water damage will have to get the coins out of those plastic cases.

They can soak the coins in mild soapy water and rinse them off.

Pat them dry.

Do not rub.

That is how the scratches we call hairlines come to be.

Many modern collector coins are not of sufficient value to justify hiring a conservation service.

Some coins might simply end up being worth face value.

They might find their way into circulation.

Notice that I use the word “might.”

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago was terrible.

Questions about salvaging coins arose then, too.

But what is remarkable is how few of these questions were asked back then.

What this indicates to me is that collectors take such good care of their coins that writing about potential flood damage is almost a theoretical exercise.

That is a tribute to the foresight of coin collectors.

They will use the same intelligence and pluck to rebuild the rest of their lives.

But the trauma of losing a coin collection will not be added to their suffering.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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