Silver bullion functions as both an investment and a fun collectible, and no matter why you're buying the coins or bars, it's a good idea to keep the silver in good shape. If you're buying them for fun or because you think they look neat, keeping them in good shape will let them continue to look good. If you're buying them as an investment, keeping them in pristine condition could net you a little more money when you try to sell them, if the buyer is basing the cost on condition and not just metal value. The big enemy of silver is tarnish, and keeping the silver in good condition starts with preventing these stains.
Monitor Environmental Conditions
First, monitor the environmental conditions in which you keep the coins or bars. Moderate humidity and temperature are best. Too much moisture can invite tarnish, and all it takes is some minor exposure to get the tarnish train running. Store the bullion indoors; a file cabinet that usually stays closed is often one of the better places.
Use Special Coin Storage Capsules
Many silver coins, such as commemoratives, come in neat display packs. Other coins are simply wrapped in a bag or may even be out in the open. Place the coins in coin capsules, which are hard plastic cases. You've likely seen these before; they're round and fit different coin sizes, and the two halves can be rather tough to separate. Some are meant to be one-use only, where you have to destroy the capsule to open it. Look for capsules that have foam inserts that help cushion the coin and prevent it from moving around.
Don't Handle Them With Bare Hands
Skin oils are another way for tarnish to start, so don't handle the coins with your bare hands. Even if you know other people were, don't contribute to the problem. A cheap pair of disposable gloves can help preserve the condition of the coin.
Be Careful Cleaning Them
In general, if you want to clean these coins, a simple gentle wash with mild dish soap and water is enough. Dry the coins carefully so no moisture is left on them, and place them in a coin capsule once the coin is completely dry. Don't use silver polishes or other "chemical" cleaners (yes, everything is a chemical, but here it means the more industrial chemicals that you wouldn't have in your kitchen) as those can add slight damage to the surface if they contain acidic ingredients.
A Special Note About Tarnish
So what do you do if the silver ends up tarnished anyway? Use a combination of fresh baking soda, water, and aluminum foil. Don't use industrial tarnish removers for the same reason why you wouldn't use the industrial silver polishes; you need to preserve the silver along with removing tarnish. The baking soda bath method is much gentler.
Of course, you could always just sell the silver for its basic metal value, but if you've got a collectible coin that's worth more, you want that to stay in terrific shape. If you can keep it that way, you could sell it for a nice price.
For more information on how to keep silver bullions clean, contact a silver bullion dealer near you.