I was always taught to handle rare and higher priced coins with
gloves on. However, I have noticed some advertisements in Coin
World including one where a grader is handling a gold coin
without gloves on.
I am not a dealer or a speculator. I am a collector who has been
collecting off and on for several years.
Is this appropriate handling of a coin?
Surprisingly, most professional graders do not use gloves when
handling most rare coins. Assuming that one has clean hands, most
coins can be safely handled without gloves, using a proper coin
handling technique where a coin is held by its edge.
In fact, many believe that it is safer for many coins to be
handled without gloves. They find that cotton gloves make gripping a
coin more difficult and increase the likelihood that it may drop while
Of course, the glove or no glove question does not have a clear
yes or no answer.
Some coins with delicate surfaces, such as Proof coins that have
mirrored fields, are often handled with gloves to protect the surfaces
from skin’s oils.
As collectors know, even a light fingerprint on the reflective
surfaces of a Proof coin can have a dramatic effect on a coin’s value.
Copper coins — especially those with original red Mint color —
also are particularly reactive to skin oils and should be handled with
gloves when possible.
Gold coins are less reactive than silver or copper coins to skin
oils, but their softer metal makes them more susceptible to damage if dropped.
Regardless of the metal of the coin that is being examined, one
would be well-advised to not spit on a coin. This can happen even
during the calmest conversation, and saliva can cause spots,
especially on copper coins.
General consensus in the hobby is that wearing cotton gloves when
handling coins makes someone more clumsy, and the risks of a possible
dropped coin outweigh the benefits.
Regardless of whether one uses gloves to examine a coin, it’s
always prudent to hold a coin by its edge, above a padded surface.
That way, if a coin does happen to drop by accident — even the
most careful people occasionally drop coins — the threat of possible
damage is minimized.
Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins
or other items for examination without prior permission from Coin
World. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins.
Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be
returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to email@example.com or
call 800-673-8311, Ext. 172.