Security is a concern for all collectors. Most numismatic items are small and often high valued, making them susceptible to theft.
This is the first of a two-part series reviewing security and your numismatic collections.
Lock it up
Thieves are opportunistic. A thief is more likely to target a home that is unoccupied, easy to get into and isolated.
The first step is to ensure that the doors and windows of your home and garage are locked and secure.
Ensure that you have good quality heavy-duty dead-bolt locks on all exterior doors. Double cylinder locks (i.e., those that require a key to open them from the interior) provide even better protection.
Do not make the burglar’s job any easier. Lock up your ladders and tools.
Keep your home well lit. Exterior security lights on paths and doors makes it difficult for thieves to work unnoticed. Consider using security lighting that is operated by a motion detector. Triggering the lights may be enough to persuade a thief to go elsewhere.
Trees, hedges and shrubs can provide a thief with ample protection allowing them to work unnoticed. Cut back trees and shrubbery so that they do not obscure doors and windows.
One of the best ways to protect your collection is to not advertise its presence. Do not boast about its existence to strangers.
If you display your collection at home, choose a spot that is not prominent and is away from windows that can be seen easily. Have your hobby publications and parcels delivered to a post office box rather than to your home.
If you store your collection in a safe-deposit box, read the rental agreement carefully. Determine if the bank insures the contents against theft or if this is your responsibility.
If you store your collection in a home safe, make sure that it is secure and immovable. It should be heavy enough that it cannot be picked up. Insurance companies often recommend setting a safe in concrete so that it is immovable.
Buy a burglar-resistant safe, with a good lock, rather than a fire-resistant safe. When shopping for a security safe, look for the Underwriters Laboratories rating. UL is a nonprofit agency that tests and rates the safety and performance of consumer products. It rates security safes by how long it takes to break into the safe. The higher the rating, the safer the safe.
If you choose not to store your coins in a safe or safe-deposit box, choose a secure, out-of-the-way place to store them. A locked cabinet or filing cabinet can work well. Be sure to leave the cabinet unlabeled.
Do not assume that your household insurance policy provides adequate protection for your collection. You may need to purchase a separate “rider” to cover these items. Alternatively, buy separate coverage through group plans such as the one offered by the American Numismatic Association. Make sure that your insurance is up to date. If your collection has gone up in value or you have acquired more coins or notes, let your agent or broker know.
Read and understand your insurance policy fully. Determine the deficiencies of your coverage and correct them now, before it is too late.
Likely the person selling you the insurance is not a numismatist, so ask a lot of questions.
Susan L. Maltby, Toronto, is a private conservation consultant, with an interest in numismatic preservation.