In over twenty years as a professional numismatist, I have discovered some excellent supplies and "peripherals" that make my business easier and more pleasurable. I'd like to share some of these with you. Coin Viewing: I generally use a 5x magnifier when I am viewing coins. In my opinion, anything stronger than this makes even the nicest coin look bad and does not present a realistic view of its appearance. When it comes to magnifiers, nothing compares to German optics. The best magnifiers I have ever seen are made by Zeiss. These are very expensive and given the fact that they can be easily lost, you may not want to spend this much (typically in the $100-200 range). I use Eschenbach magnifiers. They are reasonably priced (around $50 for a compact unit) and last forever.
An equally important component of coin viewing is lighting. When I am grading coins, I like to use a small, intense halogen source. The best halogen lamp I have found is made by Zelco. One model I like is the "Micro," which comes in a variety of colors and sizes. These can be purchased at a good lighting store or over the Internet.
Coin Insurance: If you have a collection that is worth more than a few thousand dollars, you should consider purchasing insurance. The insurance policy should cover your coins while they in storage and in transit. If you bring your coins home from time to time, make certain that your insurance is also applicable to your residence.
Most traditional insurance companies do not understand collectibles so it is wise to look for a specialist. I have used North American Collectibles for a number of years (as do many dealers) and can highly recommend them. Speak with Barbara Wingo at (410) 857-5011 and ask for an application.
Coin Storage: Unless you live in a house with exceptional security, you need to store your coins in a secure area. If you haven't already done so, I would strongly recommend going to your local bank and renting a safe deposit box. Most banks charge $100 per year for a good-sized box.
If you live in an area that has above-average humidity, consider placing a desiccant (moisture remover) in your safe deposit box. There are a few good products available; call one of the supply dealers listed below for suggestions. If you collect mint red copper coins and live in a humid area, it is IMPERATIVE that you use a good desiccant.
Coin Boxes: I use two types of boxes to store my coins. My favorite is the hard plastic model sold by NGC. These fit twenty pieces and unlike the boxes made by PCGS, they comfortably fit coins graded by both major services. They cost around $5.00 each and can be ordered through NGC's customer service department (800-NGC-COIN).
For larger numbers of coins, I like the traditional "big red boxes" that are made from reinforced cardboard. These boxes, which also come in black, can be ordered from any good supply company for just a few dollars each.
Briefcases: If you plan to take a significant amount of merchandise to a coin show to sell, you will need a good case to transport it. I strongly recommend a canvas case that has a telescoping handle and wheels. I have burned my way through numerous expensive cases and found that the best rolling case I have yet to buy is the $50-75 version from Office Depot.
If this is not classy enough for you, look into a leather salesman's sample case or a ballistic nylon case from a manufacturer such as Tumi. I would strongly caution you against purchasing a fancy metal case (such as a Halliburton) as these are very heavy and conspicuous. In fact, they virtually scream at all viewers that "I am carrying something expensive. Please rob me!"
Shipping Supplies: It is a good idea to have some basic shipping supplies on hand. I would highly recommend purchasing safe-t-mailers. These are self-adhesive ribbed cardboard holders that fit inside a number of envelope sizes. They can be purchased from any of the supply dealers below.
You should also make certain you have a supply of padded mailers and tape. These can be found at any good local office supply company.
Coin Books, New: There are a number of good sources for new books. The American Numismatic Association (www.money.org) has an excellent selection of new books. Both Coin World and Krause Publications feature books that they have published, including a number of must-have titles for the gold coin collector. Any of the book dealers listed below will have a number of titles that are important.
Coin Books, Scarce and Out-of-Print: As you become more serious about coins, it is likely that your thirst for knowledge will increase. For many series, there are few current references and you will have to search for scarcer, out-of-print books, monographs, and auction catalogs. I strongly recommend establishing a good relationship with one or more of the following dealers. Let them know your interests and get on their mailing lists.
Charles Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
George Kolbe: email@example.com
Fred Lake: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karl Moulton: email@example.com
Recommended Supply Dealers:
Brooklyn Galleries (www.brooklyngallery.com) 718-745-5701
J.T. Stanton (www.stantonbooks.com) 912-232-8655
TransLine (www.transline.com) 714-258-0963
South Park Coins (www.southpark.com) 972-564-6995