Foreign Coin Frame

My family travels a lot – I’d visited 50+ countries and all seven continents before I left high school. One of my favorite things I’ve collected on nearly all of these trips is foreign currency. Until recently, the coins and bills all lived in a box in a cabinet in my parents’ house. I had my parents bring them up last time they visited (thanks!) so I could try out this idea I’d seen (on pinterest, of course), but with a couple tweaks.

Foreign Coin Display Frame

fyi: you can click on this picture to see more detail

First, I got to sort through my coins and pick out which ones I wanted in each frame. I love how there’s such a huge variety – round, square, decagons and wavy edges; some with holes in the middle; from 0.5″ to 1.25″ in diameter; and decorated with animals, people, buildings, flourishes, hearts, and flowers. I picked out at least one from each country I had coins from, and added more that I thought were especially interesting/pretty or were from special countries like Japan and the Cayman Islands (where we went on our honeymoon). I thought it was neat to be able to include coins from countries like Germany and France that now use the Euro instead, and I also added a wheat penny and a couple other odd coins that had found their way into my coin stash like an NYC metro token.

I love the tutorial from Turning Stones, but she glued the coins to the frame backing which I really wanted to avoid. The first thing I tried was just setting all the coins in the frame and using a sturdy backing (plexiglass) to keep the coins alligned. This worked ok, but because the coins are such different thicknesses, some of them slipped past each other and others were clearly at a wonky angle. It took several tries, but I eventually found a way to keep the coins in place and flat against the frame.

Foreign Coin Frame Back

What I finally found that worked out the best was to stack the coins in the frame, and then back them with a piece of black flannel (just for a nice looking background) and then a piece of high-loft quilt batting (leftover from my tufted headboard). The batting did a fantastic job of applying just enough pressure to the backs of the coins to keep thin ones from sliding past each other or resting at an angle, while being thin enough for the back of the frame to close up and lay flat. The frames I used were one’s my parents had gotten rid of and didn’t have backs anyways, but I think a new sturdier back is important for keeping the coins from sliding. I got a piece of thin (about 0.1 in) thick 11×14″ sheet of acrylic from home depot for $4 and cut it to size (10″x13″) with one of these knives. Since that was the only thing that wasn’t free for this project, I’m pretty happy with that.

Coins Display

Now I just need to find something to do with the bills – which are Eddie’s favorites. I love being able to display collections – I feel like we have way too much stuff that is cool and meaningful that sits in a box or a closet. If you have any other cool collection display ideas, I’d love to see/hear about them!

21 thoughts to “Foreign Coin Frame”

  1. Love this idea – I think I better start collecting those coins 😉

    I don’t know if you’d think this as a fun fact, but the 2 small copper-coins in the top right corner (the one saying 25 øre) are not being produced anymore. They’re danish, and was phased out in 2010.

  2. What a fabulous collection. Lucky you to have traveled before the time of the Euro. We’ve been living and traveling overseas for a while now and have amassed quite a collection. We may need to make up a little display like this.

  3. Great idea! Thanks for sharing. I have a footed glass dish filled with foreign coins my family has collected. I’m going to try this! We also have a big basket full of playing cards from all the places we’ve traveled. Any cool ideas on how to display them and still be able to take a deck out to play spades? Another souvenir collection we have is beach towels. Our son uses them for his bath towels. When he left for college this year, he asked to take some of them. A practical way to remember special trips we’ve taken. 🙂

  4. A really great idea, and love it. It really has a very unique look to it, very textural! Pretty cool idea! Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration with Sunday’s Best – you helped make the party a success!

  5. I love this idea. I also saw this on Turning Stone’s blog, but I was hesitant about using glue, too. Thanks for figuring out the logistics for me! I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow afternoon. BTW, the coins I’m using are from my grandfather’s collection. Question: did you do anything in particular to clean your coins first? Many of my grandfather’s coins are quite old and could use a cleaning, but I’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to use traditional chemical polishing creams. Any advice? Thanks, Miss Snarky Pants

    1. Miss Snarky Pants,

      Most of the coins I have are ones we collected on trips while I was growing up, and we always made an effort to pick out the shiniest ones we found to bring back. A few of mine are less clean, but I was happy to have a handful of more worn coins in the frame. I scrubbed a few with just water and some dish soap, but that was all mine needed. Good luck!


        1. Never clean the old coins. It will degrade the value. The chemicals in the dish soap may react with the metal of the coin and may cause color change in the future. Leave the coins in the condition they are. Old coins are meant to be old. Leave them in their authentic condition.

  6. Genius idea! I just tried this with a big bag of foreign and old coins my husband and I have collected. It worked perfectly and I love the outcome. No sliding coins, no glue, I just love it! Thank you!

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