Author Topic: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins  (Read 17399 times)

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Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2013, 09:03:12 PM »
...The no-cleaning myth is a US invention. My take is that it serves, alongside the "grading is a science" myth, to increase the profits of the third party graders.

I really don’t think so. (And "myth" is such a provocative word ;) .) Third-party grading (as we know it, anyway) had its American debut during the 1970s, but the American coin hobby was cautioning novices about the pitfalls of cleaning coins much, much earlier than that. For instance—and more or less at random—

The 9th edition (1952) of the seminal Handbook of United States Coins, aka the ”Bluebook:” “Most numismatists will tell you to ‘never clean a coin’ and it is good advice; however, every collector tries to clean a coin sooner or later, so we are passing on a few tips here….If you must satisfy the urge to try to clean coins, experiment first with some ordinary coins….”

And then from the  29th edition (1926) of B. Max Mehl’s ubiquitous The Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia and Premium Catalog: “Please read…NEVER CLEAN A RARE COIN.…A somewhat corroded coin is oftentimes more valuable than a cleaned one. The cleaning of a rare coin considerably decreases its value.”

A lot of folks have had quite a bit to say about Mehl over the years, but I’ve never yet heard anyone say he didn’t know what his customers wanted.  And it’s not like they didn’t have a wealth of experience to support their preferences; Americans had been collecting coins with some enthusiasm since the phase-out of the old large cent in the late 1850s.

The funny thing is, it was years before I understood that when it came to machine-struck coinage, the American coin hobby was as experienced—and as discerning—as any in the world. The realization really did come as a surprise, but then I did, finally, begin to understand the implications of the puzzling English-language passage I’d run across years before in a 1985 Swedish coin catalog. The words were taken from a 1940 Swedish coin publication that quoted an American coin catalog: ”Do not clean or scour any coin you wish to sell, as we always pay more for a specimen offered as found, however green or black it may be; cleaning has ruined many desirable pieces.”.

 :) v.

akona20

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2013, 10:38:59 PM »
Note: Coins that cannot be attributed are nothing. So coins in an unattributable state need to be cleaned so they can at least be attributed if possible. It is the level of cleaning that becomes debatable,

I have found a silvered Roman coin from my cleaning days. It is now attributal from the preliminary work and it has much of the silver remaing . It cost me $2 as something totally unrecognisable. If I destroy it with the next stage of cleaning should I decide to do it what is really lost? I think the anti cleaning fraternity has rather lost itself in these discussions. about unattributed coins that need cleaning.

For the modern coins if cleaning was such a bad thing why do grading agencies offer cleaning as part of their services?

Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2013, 03:32:23 AM »
...For the modern coins if cleaning was such a bad thing why do grading agencies offer cleaning as part of their services?
Because sometimes leaving a coin uncleaned is a worse thing.

 :) v.

Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2013, 04:30:57 AM »
...coins in an unattributable state need to be cleaned so they can at least be attributed if possible. It is the level of cleaning that becomes debatable,

I have found a silvered Roman coin from my cleaning days. It is now attributal from the preliminary work and it has much of the silver remaing . It cost me $2 as something totally unrecognisable. If I destroy it with the next stage of cleaning should I decide to do it what is really lost? I think the anti cleaning fraternity has rather lost itself in these discussions. about unattributed coins that need cleaning.

The thread here is the conservation and cleaning of modern coins. Which means not attribution, but eye-appeal, is the main concern.

Much of WoC's editorial slant comes out of the European coin tradition--of course--but much European coin-thought derives from a long familiarity with collecting ancients. Cleaning for attribution and preservation is therefore well understood in the various European coin hobbies, but in my own experience, the impact of cleaning on the eye-appeal of modern machine-struck coinage is today still...less well-appreciated among the run of Europeans than it will be in the future. (Euro collecting--and the "legacy" collecting it spurred--seems to be doing for a wide band of the European public what the silver dollar rush did for Americans a half century ago, what the commemorative half dollar craze did for Americans 80 years ago, and what the end of the large cent did for Americans 150 years ago.)

Look, the American coin hobby is full of (badly) cleaned coins. They're easy to find in dealers's cases and in junkboxes across the country. Sometimes it seems like that's all there is to buy, just a bunch of ugly cleaned and damaged coins. But of course it would--the pretty coins already have homes.

I'd like to see more accent on the eye-appeal of coins among WoC's old-timers, at least where modern machine-struck coinage is concerned; I think it'd be a real favor to the folks who come after.   

;) v.
 

akona20

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2013, 10:53:45 PM »
Perhaps the title of the thread should be Machine Made and Machine Struck rather than just Modern.

For me the bottom line is that the industry, especially in America, accepts these coins in a cleaned state frequently at very high slabbed "quality" ratings.

Its a purely dollars and cents game. In fact knowledge, that is to say how much should a silver coin, for example, tarnish with that percentage of silver content over time and what should the tarnish actually look like, has been over ridden by  ashiney mass of metal called a high graded coin.

A counter argument may go that exposing a coin to SO2, or cigar smoke or something else will cause a tarnish (patina) and is that what you want?

So that is why we have coin dripping as an art form to produce nice shiney coins is all the rage especially in America and it is now acceptable. Fake or false patina discovery is somewhat an acquired ability but picking the fakes in the shiney coin parade can be a lot more difficult. (Just quetly some of the recent Mughal Rupees I have found have suffered dripping or perhaps something else.)

Actually the shiney coins have an artificial patina, it is the removal of the real patina to produce something else.

Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2013, 01:06:42 AM »
...So that is why we have coin dripping as an art form to produce nice shiney coins is all the rage especially in America and it is now acceptable.

Eye-appeal is eye-appeal, and there's no doubt it can be had through skillful dipping of the right coin--but try it with the wrong coin, or even the right coin often enough, and you've got problems. An overdipped UNC is a terrible thing to see.

 :) v.

akona20

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2013, 02:01:03 AM »
The term I am talking about here is dripping not dipping.

And I have seen some very highly rated coins that have been through this process.

Now of course they talk about removing "grime" from coins by this process. Nice to know real patina is called grime when it suits the purpose of faking a patina.

Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2013, 02:30:49 AM »
The term I am talking about here is dripping not dipping.

And I have seen some very highly rated coins that have been through this process.

Now of course they talk about removing "grime" from coins by this process. Nice to know real patina is called grime when it suits the purpose of faking a patina.

"Dripping" is a unfortunate typo that now can be found on the Net if one looks for it--but the process is "dipping."
 ;) v.

akona20

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2013, 02:35:43 AM »
Hi,

Back in the good old days it was called dripping (for various reasons) among those who did it now it appears to be called dipping for various other reasons and people who do it are now called conservationists rather than appliers of fake patina.

Its a little like that great race of people from the far north of India and Afghanistan used to be called Pathans there are now called Pashtoons.

Offline villa66

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2013, 04:02:55 AM »
...Back in the good old days it was called dripping (for various reasons) among those who did it now it appears to be called dipping for various other reasons and people who do it are now called conservationists rather than appliers of fake patina.

On the subject of dipping, here again from 36 years ago are some the "keepers" of the American coin hobby in their 1977 1st edition of The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards for United States Coins: “The simple ‘dipping’ (without abrasion) of an already Uncirculated or Proof coin to brighten the surface does not have to be mentioned unless such dipping alters the appearance from when the coin was first struck (for example, in the instance of a copper or bronze coin in which dipping always produces an unnatural color completely unlike the coin when it was first struck.)”

Eye-appeal!

 :) v.

akona20

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2013, 04:19:28 AM »
I will post a story later about an incident in the east end of London in late 1971 about dripping and dipping.

Offline Buffalosoldat

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2013, 06:06:47 AM »
Maybe a clarification needs to be made on cleaning with harsh abrasives (whether a liquid like acid or a toothbrush or whatever) versus cleaning with a soak in, say, hot water. Or are these generally viewed as equally bad?

I note that an AU 1921-P Walking Liberty slabbed by NGC with a label that includes "Improperly Cleaned" is listed on our local auction website for NZ$950.
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2013, 10:38:01 AM »
If you read the above, you will note that opinions differ; there is no "right" answer. FWIW, in my opinion, anything that either does not alter the piece itself or removes crud that prevents a (complete) identification is OK. Choose your own line in the sand (and don't complain about other people's line).

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

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2013, 09:38:04 PM »
From lots of cleaning experience, just soaking in water hot water does very little, for moderns or ancients. Finger oils or or other coatings won't dissolve. A soft tooth brush without a soap does little. If you want a "no" scratch clean, use REN Wax , just a little bit  rubbed on the coin, then a buff with a pure cotton cloth. This will clean the surface of the coin, removing surface oils and minor oxides.

Bruce

Offline Lynnetteasis

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Re: Conservation and cleaning of modern coins
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2013, 10:18:34 AM »
I soak my coins in a small bowl of warm water and a few drops of dish soap. I leave them soaking for an hour or so then rinse them well under warm water. Pat them dry. I lay them out and look at them. Currency can carry a lot of disease and germs, for health reasons I wash them and often wear nytril gloves while processing them.
If I need to remove dirt and crud from a coins so I can see the details, then I use a soft eraser (bee's wax works well). If I do anything else to the coin I will use a silver polishing cloth to lightly settle the appearance. I really like the wax idea mentioned in this post. I think I will try that with a liquid, spray on wax since it is so light and thin, it won't cake in the crevasses. Once cleaned I will try to use gloves to handle them or wipe them clean before re-storing them.
Once they are cleaned up they need to go into a coin flip and get filed, go into a collection book, vinyl coin sheets or coin rolls, never loose in a drawer or a bowl. I use the ledger to log in my coins. I collect mainly US coins and can suggest theses: Coin World sells a paper bound book "Ledger of US Coins"  There are free downloads online also like http://coins.about.com has a free pdf "The Checklist of American Coins" Now that I have had more time to think into the future I realize the pdf format ledgers are not only cost effective but much easier than needing to another ledger book as it gets outdated. They can be linked or saved into google cloud e print and viewed or printed out anywhere. Handy for sales, sharing, trading and even online grading. PCGS has an online link to their software program that allows you to share your questions with many more and let them know you are alive and well. There are quickly becoming more internet storage options with ease of showing your coins from your home.
Then I view them with a field microscope or magnifying lens. And try to determine their rarity and potential for value. As a backup I use a cross check method. I have the paper ledger (assessor log) and a paper flyer (collection log) with the coins as I add them into the collections. I add notes on the outside of any and attach to envelopes, rolls or coin flips with a write on tag (I like them better than the cardboard/Mylar coin holders) or simply but placing the list directly with the coins if in lots for storage.
On these lists I note about any research I have done, potential rare. low mintage, price alerts, weblinks or potential error coins. These notes stay separate from the ledger so if I show it to someone I am not claiming to be a grader or predetermine their evaluation of the ledger and over all collection.
I use the good old fashion museum curation standards. I have several large collection categories. One is the old card catalog system for lower grade or ones I haven't decided to place for good. It is simple, easy to update and only requires a small amount of space. I keep the Whitman books going, but not with my best pieces. Those go into a hardbound book with plastic coins pouches to assemble a registry set. I use loose leaf plastic pouch sheets to "lay out" for a new book so I can easily update with new additions. Any extra or excessive lots of the same varieties should be rolled or sheathed for protection. I keep my coins at room temperature and dry air. All coins are locked into my stamp cabinet or safe.
This is what happens whens if you inherit a hoarders lifelong coin collection.