You’ve Completed the Centennial Trio—Now What?
Those who’ve completed the three-coin set of 1916 Centennial Gold Coins have a dilemma: how are you going to display them? Having shelled out more than $1,500 for the trio, you may have simply put them in the safe or a bank vault, or sent them to a third-party grader. But you may also want to keep your three gold beauties close to hand, where they’ll be safe but you still can admire them—and show them off—anytime you like.
In a perfect world, the Mint would have provided something like the nice box that comes with the Royal Mint’s three-coin Sovereign set, shown below. Both the box and the coin panel are polished wood; the panel tilts up for display, and the coins’ original capsules fit snugly within it.
From the outset, the U.S. Mint planned to provide wooden display boxes for the individual Centennial coins, but not for the eventual sets, which would not be sold by the Mint. A number of forward-thinking collectors observed that the coins’ diameters would match those of the fractional American Gold Buffalo coins, which were sold in four-coin Proof sets in 2008. After the topic was raised in the blog world, the hunt was on for empty 2008 boxes—and Mint News Blog reader indydude managed to get one. The Mercury Dime and Standing Liberty Quarter Centennial coins fit perfectly into their designated slots, as show below. A one-ounce Buffalo occupies the last spot, and when the Walking Liberty Half arrives in the mail, it will fit perfectly into the empty space.
Unfortunately, these empty boxes are not easy to come by, so most collectors will have to look elsewhere. Mint News Blog will take a look at some available options for the Centennial trio. Many are tried-and-true items that have been around for years, but a few are more off the wall. So, with that said, let’s take a look at what turned up.
Standard Coin Displays
A flat, lidded box is a good option for portability. It’s easy to move to a drawer or a desk, or to carry in a briefcase; and if the interior has molded compartments for the coin holders, they’ll stay put during transport. Boxes with molded interiors to fit slabbed coins are abundant and inexpensive, whether with solid or see-through lids. The former are less fragile in a suitcase but are hard to find with locks; the latter are frequently lockable, but the glass lids are obviously more delicate.
The following are some examples. This is more of a starting point than a be-all and end-all list, and most of the options can be found elsewhere online if you’re interested in shopping around. (Mint News Blog has summarized the vendors’ sales copy for brevity; we have not personally examined any of these items, so be sure to ask the seller questions if you’re interested in purchasing.)
There are equally as many options for ungraded coins in capsules; unfortunately, multi-coin boxes with molded interiors tend to hold only one capsule size. The Sovereigns shown earlier in this post have a uniform capsule size across the coin sizes; not so the Centennial coins, whose capsules are sized to fit.
That means finding a box with uniform slots and switching the Centennial coins into aftermarket capsules that will fit it. One such box—another Guardhouse product—is offered by Coin Supply Express. Priced at $26.95, this size container has small slots; according to the website, “Small slots fit all Small sized Guardhouse or Air Tite Small sized coin capsules. Small capsules accommodate a range of coin sizes in direct fit holders.” If you don’t plan to have your coins graded, and you don’t mind switching the capsules, this one should be a nice option.
Moving Farther Afield
Don’t plan to move your collection around much? The marketplace has scores of display options from many collecting fields. Stores catering to collectors of badges and other odd-shaped memorabilia carry nice display cases, and the array of options is enormous. This lockable case is marketed to badge collectors; the 9×12 size is $45.
Jewelry display cases are another interesting option, and many are of superior quality. The flat sort are similar to the badge display case above; if you’re interested in displaying your coins vertically or at an angle, taller cases like this one (starting at $835) are available. Two downsides are that, first, it’s tricky to find one that looks at home in the home instead of at Macy’s; and second, it’s more difficult to find such cases in smaller sizes. On the other hand, with a larger container you could display your Centennial coins alongside their original circulating counterparts, or with a meaningful, nicely arranged group of related, non-numismatic items.
If you’re open to a vertical or slanted display, consider looking at the options for collector coins, challenge coins, and so on. Three gold coins in their capsules on small metal or acrylic easels would make a handsome display under a bell jar like this one ($39.72).
Moving still farther from the traditional, you might consider a museum-style wall-mounted display. Although they’re a little offbeat, wall-mounted boxes can be a handsome way to give your coins “pride of place.” This Little Gem wall-mounted exhibit case (starting at $99) is one example. As with bell jars and other options, slabs or capsules can be presented vertically with the use of small easels typically used for small framed photos.
Going All the Way: Custom Coin Displays
If vitrines, shadow-boxes, and bell jars are too far out there, but the ready-made options don’t seem worthy of your gold Centennials, there’s the custom option. A Google search of “custom boxes” will bring up a slew of craftsmen. One is Vince Gelezunas, of Weldon Spring, Missouri, who makes exquisite custom items like the ring box ($450) shown below. The Eagle Empire makes custom boxes especially for coin collectors; scroll down to the Black Walnut 10-Coin PCGS Storage Box for one very handsome example. Although the vendor doesn’t have a three-slab or capsule display on the website at this time, it’s likely they’ll be happy to make one. Prices for the boxes they have in stock range from $59.95 to $499.95. ❑