Several years ago, my father left a coin collection to my sister and myself. We discussed what to do with this collection and both agreed that we wanted to take a representative sampling of it and find a cool way to display it. I made it my mission to create something to do just that. I wanted to give it to her as a Christmas gift. I have since made several different versions of this display, including a type set, state quarters, Lincoln bicentennial pennies, and the Westward Journey nickels. Most of the photos are for the State Quarters display.
Step 1: - Tools and Supplies Needed
Pencil and Paper (Graph paper is very helpful)
Xacto knife or some other cutting tool
Computer / Printer
Display Board (I used a plaque from a local trophy shop)
2 sided adhesive (I also got this from my local trophy shop)
Adhesive Backed Printer Paper
Small Craft Wood Pieces
Air-Tite Plastic Coin Holders (I found these on Ebay)
Step 2: - Design Your Display
Once you have chosen what to display, you need to figure out how you want to arrange them into a configuration that makes sense and has the look you want. If you are planning to have labels on the display to give information on what each coin is or describes the collection as a whole, you need to start thinking about how large these will be and work them into your design layout.
Using the graph paper, lay out your design. If you are purchasing a trophy plaque, check with your supplier on the available sizes so you have an idea what to shoot for. You may have to do some re-design at this point to fit your collection onto one of the available sizes.
For al of you woodworkers out there, I am sure you can make something really nice to mount the coins upon. This would give you some extra flexibility since you can make your display to any size and shape you desire.
For the state quarter display, I wanted to display 57 coins (50 state quarters, 6 territories, and one showing the obverse or heads side), along with a label for each coin, and a larger label that describes the entire display. To arrange the coins in a grid pattern, I chose to go with 6 rows and 11 columns. This leaves 9 extra boxes that will be empty. I placed these in the center and used that area for my large label. The one trophy plaque size that made the most sense was 22” X 18”. With the 6 X 11 grid pattern, that gives me approximately a box footprint of 2” X 3” to fill the board without crowding the sides too much. I drew out a 2” X 3” box onto my graph paper and used the actual pieces that I planned to use for each coin and checked the fit.
Determine where the center of your coins and the edges of your labels will be located on the backboard. You should be able to get this information from the design. Make sure to get a dimension from the top or bottom and from either the left or right hand side. You will need this information later.
Step 3: - Creating the Labels
When designing the labels, look for backgrounds that look cool, but are not so busy as to camouflage the wording that you will be using. Be creative, for my state quarters display, I used the state flag for each state along with the state name and the year it joined the United States. I used an American flag for the type set display, a close up of a penny for the penny display, and the U.S. Mint's Westward Journey logo for the nickel display.
Using your favorite program, create labels that are the size you need and put in your background and wording. I used Powerpoint and placed a rectangle on the sheet and did test prints and adjustments until I got the exact size I wanted. Once you get what you want, you can copy the rectangle as many times as you need. If you plan on using the same background on all of your labels, do that before making the copies.
Print out your labels on the adhesive backed paper and use your cutting tool to cut everything out. These labels can be placed directly on your backboard, but this solution is not very durable and does not look all that great.
Take some small craft wood that is just larger than your labels. These pieces can be stained or painted to suit your taste. Once the stain/paint is dry, peel the backing off the labels and center them on the wood. This is much easier to do if you stick the label onto the very tip of a pointed craft knife and use it to place it on the wood.
Once all of the labels are in place, it is a good idea to cover the label and wood with a couple of coats of clear. This keeps the label from peeling off, smearing, or fading. It also looks really nice. Take your sponge brush and apply a thin even coat and allow it to dry before applying another one.
Step 4: - Assemble Your Display
Once you have your locations marked, it is time to start putting everything in place. Start by cutting the two-sided tape into pieces that will fit on your coin holders or labels without sticking out on the sides. Peel the backing off of one side of the tape and attach the tape to the back side of the labels or the bottom piece of the coin holder. If you are using the Air-Tite coin holders make sure you have the correct piece, as there is a specific top and bottom piece. It is also a good idea to not to put the coins in the holder or assemble the two pieces until after you have completed the display. Once you get these coin holders attached, it is difficult to remove the top.
Peel the other piece of backing from the tape and align the holder or label to the marks on the backboard. Your square can be used again here to keep everything straight. Keep this up until you have all parts of your display in place.
Step 5: - Fill Your Board With Coins and Display Proudly
This is a great opportunity to share your collection with family members or pass on your enjoyment of coin collecting to your kids. Have them help you place the coins into the holders and you can discuss the history and significance of the coins. Coin collecting is a wonderful hobby and there is an amazing amount of different coins out there that can be collected. From the very old rare coins, to the recent special coins like the State Quarters program, Lincoln Bicentennial Pennies, the Westward Journey Nickels, and now the America the Beautiful Quarters program, coin collecting can be fun for the whole family.