During a recent coin club meeting, someone asked how to create an album or some type of presentation for a custom collection. Whether they are putting together year sets, typeset, or a theme set, there is always the question as to how to create a way to display them.

One typical solution is to purchase the pages that you can slide 2×2 holders in each space. Each page holds 20 of the 2x2s and the pages can be placed in any binder.

Experienced collectors know that the typical 2×2 holder is ugly. They are either cardboard with an opening covered in Mylar or they are clear plastic flips. And not all flips are the same. Those made with certain plastics, including those that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will damage whatever you put into those holders. Also, some of the older pages contain PVC. Even if the individual holder may be archival safe, the holders are not airtight and will allow the gasses from the PVC to eventually damage the coin.

I found a better solution.

When I started collecting Canadian coins, I started looking for an album or some other way to display the collection. At the time, Whitman had not started selling Canadian coin folders again (they had stopped years earlier). Using the Internet, I began to search for Canada-based coin shops to see what they had in inventory.

Just like for United States coins there are only a few options. After doing some research I settled on Gardmaster albums.

Gardmaster albums use clear pages that have a slider where the coins are placed. Pull out the slider and insert your coin or other numismatic collectibles in the pocket. Slide the slider back in and you have a clear page to see both sides and edge of the coin. The plastic they use does not contain a softening agent (like PVC) to keep your collectibles safe.

The covers themselves use a snap closure to keep the pages in place. These covers are thick enough to hold 5 pages comfortably but can be pushed to six. The limiting factor will be the thickness of your collectibles. Adding too many pages will cause the cover to bulge making the presentation less attractive.

Between the pages is a page where information is either printed with the information about the collectible or can be purchased blank for you to add your own information. For my Large Cent collection, I used Brother P-Touch labels to mark the slots for each coin. I tried to make a template using Microsoft Word but was unsuccessful. A more experienced Word wrangler explained what I was doing wrong which will allow me to fix this when I get a chance.

Gardmaster, a Canadian company, makes albums for all series of Canadian coins including modern coins. Albums for Canadian coins have the Canadian crest printed on the cover along with the coin’s series.

Gardmaster also makes albums for United States coins that have a heraldic eagle on the cover. Albums are available for all United States series including State quarters, Presidential dollars, and albums with coin types on the cover but no dates printed on the inserts allowing the collector to make their own collection.

Blank covers are also available that include what they call a “World Crest.” I do not know what the World Crest looks like since I have not purchased one.

If you are making your own album, Gardmaster has six-page types to choose from. Most coins can fit into a 30-pocket page that has six pockets in a row and five rows. When I was creating my Large Cent album I thought that was a little tight. I bypassed the 20-pocket page (five pockets with four rows) for the 16-pocket page (four pockets in four rows).

The various page sizes can be mixed and matched depending on your needs.

Currently, I buy the Gardmaster Albums and pages from Brooklyn Gallery Coins and Stamps. When you search for the albums and pages, you need to search for “guardmaster” since they spelled it wrong. Who cares about the spelling—Brooklyn Gallery has great prices and they ship quickly.

Although Gardmaster albums are better looking than 2×2 pages in binders, they are not as good looking as the Dansco, Whitman, or the Littleton albums I have used. The binders remind me of the 1980s that is in dire need of an upgrade. The covers look like they are pressed around the cardboard in the center instead of cleanly wrapped like most covers we are used to using.

My next project is to organize my New York Collection. Currently, these are coins, tokens, and medals in 2×2 holders and flips with most put into the typical binder page. As I gather these items, I am going to figure how I will organize these pieces and buy the appropriate Gardmaster albums for them. When I do, I will fix the template so that I can print the divider page with the information I want using the inkjet printer on my desk.

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