Storing your Banknotes: Mylar or PVC?
If you're new to banknote collecting, you may not have heard about the damaging effects of storing your banknotes in banknote holders and banknote album pages made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride).
Why not PVC? This is because PVC reacts with water as a gas over a long period of time to produce hydrochloric acid which is damaging to banknotes. Another by product is the alcohol compound which discolours the banknote after a number of years in storage in a PVC banknote holder or album sleeves. After 20 years of storage, the banknote paper will completely dry out, making them brittle to touch. After 50 years of storage, banknotes will disintegrate by touch.
Mylar or equivalent plastics
Why Mylar (Biaxially-oriented Polyethylene terephthalate (boPET))? This is because Mylar, Melinex or any other equivalent plastics are completely inert, in other words do not react with anything. They are suitable for archival quality storage of banknotes as they protect them from the conditions of the atmosphere that would cause banknote paper to deteriorate over time.
In other words, Mylar does not damage banknotes and delivers superior protection to them.
How can I tell the difference between them?
The best way to differentiate between Mylar (or equivalent) and PVC for an average person, like you and me, is the smell. If it smells strongly like plastic, it contains PVC. Otherwise, it probably contains Mylar or equivalent type of plastics.
Don't be afraid to ask dealers questions before you buy. More reputable dealers will tell you the truth.
Don't be tempted to buy banknote storage products by phrases such as 'free from acids and chemical softeners', 'acid free' and 'archival safe' but also state that they are made from PVC. Also, don't be tempted by dealers using pictures to prove that they store banknotes in these PVC holders. In reality, after demonstration they take the bankotes out of these holders knowing fully about the consequences. Some of them only care about making a huge profit from unsuspecting collectors.
Be suspicious if dealers use misleading description and /or title. Report to eBay if they do, if the item is listed on eBay.
Where can I buy Mylar banknote sleeves and album pages?
You can buy them from various banknote dealers, manufacturers and distributors of mylar banknote sleeves and album pages.
Please shop around. Prices can vary considerably, especially by country. In the UK, they are quite expensive. You will have to pay VAT of 20% and probably postage on top as well.
You could consider buying from the US, where prices are often cheaper and you don't pay any sales tax if you're not a US resident. However postage can be expensive so check around. You have consider the exchange rate as well.
As mentioned earlier, please ask questions. These simple but common sense rules do apply to all types of shopping (home or abroad).
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