Author Topic: A coin cleaning "moral question"  (Read 3480 times)

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Offline Alan Glasser

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A coin cleaning "moral question"
« on: September 13, 2011, 09:17:33 PM »
Hello, everyone.

Several weeks ago a retired neighbor gave me his farhers coin collection and ask me to evaluate it. I love doing this. Anyway, all the coins were in paper bags or those blue Whitman's coin boards and haven't been looked at for decades...stored in an attic. When I got them home, I began the evaluation and noticed that virtually every coin had a film, almost dusty or maybe even moldy and a bit gritty. They were unattractive! Anyway, on a whim, I took an eyeglass cleaning soft cloth (not paper) and tried it on a low value coin. After just a few rubs, the surfaces were natural and nice looking and the powdery stuff was gone. What a difference. I tried it on copper, silver and nickel coins all with the same result. I don't know what that stuff was...maybe just decades of dust and pollution, but the end results revealed natural looking coins with a not-cleaned look. The silver in particular was vastly improved, but retained its original toning. Now, for all you coin cleaning purists out there (I am one too) did I technically "Clean" the coins or just remove a layer of gunk and reveal the "real" coin under it?

What do you think?

Thanks.  Alan in Massachusetts. I should be getting another load of coins from the collection and wonder if I should continue the process.

Offline brokencompass

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 11:51:21 PM »
As far as I know, rubbing a coin leaves very fine scratches on the field of the coin, more destructive if the coin had mint luster hidden behind the dust. Have you tried using canned air and blowing it out? I think it's safer for the coin to try the least invasive method.
My goal for 2017 is to finish finish my British India copper collection (1/4 anna, 1/2 Pice and 1/12 anna) by year and Mintmark. Any help with missing coins in BU grades is highly appreciated.
https://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/MySets_Listing.aspx?PeopleSetID=130880

Offline villa66

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 12:21:56 AM »
...I should be getting another load of coins from the collection and wonder if I should continue the process.

From the sound of it your intentions are good, you're obviously being careful, etc., etc.

But (only because you asked), since the coins aren't yours, my thought is that you shouldn't alter them, or do anything to them that risks damaging them. Perhaps, though, you already have the owner's permission, and have let him/her know the risk.

 ;) v.

akona20

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 12:49:56 AM »
If cleaning is what is wanted rinse under running water and pat dry with either a soft cloth or aborbant paper. Do not rub. Frankly I would leave them as they are. The more they are worth the less cleaning should be done.

Offline Coinsforever

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 12:52:13 AM »
After just a few rubs, the surfaces were natural and nice looking and the powdery stuff was gone. What a difference.

Tiny minute dust particles may lead to scraches AFAIK , Hence rubbing without removing dust either by small blower or vaccum cleaner could degrade it further.

No one want to degrade the coins of their collection and decision/method  for cleaning based on  individual's judgement.

These coins belongs to your neighbour for evaluation may  be assess jointly & let him also witness the  condition which is not normal to evaluate.

Cheers ;D

From the sound of it your intentions are good, you're obviously being careful, etc., etc.

But (only because you asked), since the coins aren't yours, my thought is that you shouldn't alter them, or do anything to them that risks damaging them. Perhaps, though, you already have the owner's permission, and have let him/her know the risk.

 ;) v.

Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector's item.



http://knowledge-numismatics.blogspot.in/

Offline Alan Glasser

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 01:05:04 AM »
Hello, guys.

I agree with the blowing theory, but it didn't work a bit. I tried canned air as well, soaking in warm water which made a bit of a mushy feel to the coins...and then tried the jeweler's cloth (eyeglasses cloth). I have used this same cloth on some of my proof pieces with no damage...even under magnification. I absolutely agree that they are someone else's coins and I should ask next time, but these were so ugly with the moldy powder, the silky cloth did wonders. When I get the next batch, I will try one, and then look under my microscope for minute scratches, but since I use the same cloths on my eyeglasses (as recommended by the doctor), I doubt that there will be any damage to the all circulated coins. The question remains...is this "cleaning"?

Some of the U.S.A. certifying companies "improve" coins and then certify them as original (not cleaned). I had a bit of a problem with that until I certified a really high grade Barber Half dollar I had but with ugly "eye appeal". When I got it back...it was toned in appearance...but very much improved. It didn't look cleaned, it looked nice...they removed something, but left the surfaces original. I don't know how they do that...but the coin is much improved.

Alan in Massachusetts   

akona20

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 01:11:03 AM »
Perhaps the old soak in acetone trick?

Offline Alan Glasser

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 01:29:00 AM »
I have done the acetone on some new silver proofs that arrived with fingerprints or had PVC, but I was afraid to use it on toned silver copper and nickel coins. I dodn't want them "clean" I wanted them "un-powerey".

Alan

Offline brokencompass

  • I collect British India Presidencies, Uniform coinage, Princely States, Table medals and other colonial Indian coins.
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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 02:10:44 AM »
If the coin is rare, I would suggest sending it to NCS for conservation. I have heard they do a great job of removing pvc, dust off the surface.
My goal for 2017 is to finish finish my British India copper collection (1/4 anna, 1/2 Pice and 1/12 anna) by year and Mintmark. Any help with missing coins in BU grades is highly appreciated.
https://coins.www.collectors-society.com/registry/coins/MySets_Listing.aspx?PeopleSetID=130880

Offline Prosit

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 03:31:29 AM »
Acetone is a solvent and has an affinity for organics.  It disolves grease.  It is not an acid so it doesn't strip metal, it leaves toning since toning isn't organic.  The problem with using acetone is if it disolves something organic that has been on the coin a long time acting as a blocker to natural toning...then you get a splotchy coin.  But not because it took toning away, it just revealed the untoned, hidden by gunk parts.

Also a soft cleaning cloth doesn't harm or scratch a coin, it is the stuff the cloth drags around that it picked up from the dirty coin that scratches the coin.  One mineral in dirt and consequently dust is silica.  Silica is harder than Silver Copper or Nickle and will scratch it.

Dale




I have done the acetone on some new silver proofs that arrived with fingerprints or had PVC, but I was afraid to use it on toned silver copper and nickel coins. I dodn't want them "clean" I wanted them "un-powerey".

Alan

Offline Prosit

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 03:36:16 AM »
PS

Dust can have many many things in its composition, silica is only one possible component.
Dale

Offline Figleaf

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2011, 06:09:47 PM »
I think its not your decision to make but your neighbour's. Just explain the pros and cons...

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Md. Shariful Islam

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2011, 11:26:46 AM »
I want to know the meaning of the word 'evaluation'. Is it like counting value based on rarity and grade at market price? If so, then cleaning is another job. If your neighbour asks u for evaluation only, I suggest u not to clean them. You are just risking. We clean coins when I know that I don't want to sell them.

Islam 

Offline Alan Glasser

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2011, 08:32:36 PM »
Hello, Islan.

Evaluation is the same as "appraise". When I evaluated the collection, I actually did my best to appraise the collection to determine value.

Regarding the cleaning cloth, you all make very good points and I will let the owner determine whether he would like the nets groupings of coins wiped with the jeweler's cloth. I am quite sure that he will support the decision to improve the eve appeal of the coins without disturbing the true appeal of the coin under the mold and mustiness.

Did the coins arrive yet in the mail?

Alan

Offline Md. Shariful Islam

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Re: A coin cleaning "moral question"
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2011, 08:50:02 PM »
Dear sir, not yet received. Please have patience. It takes at least 15 days I guess. I hope and believe that the mail will arrive properly. I never missed an international mail so far. I am confident that I am going to receive it.

Islam