Is It Ever OK to Clean Coins?

By Peter Mosiondz, Jr. for CoinWeek …..
Some types of coin clean might identical well improve a coin ’ s appearance, while most other methods may actually damage the coin ’ south come on, appearance and–most importantly–the rate .
If I could offer just one piece of advice to you today, it would be this : Do not clean your coins under any circumstances.

That being said, many collectors will want to try cleaning their coins in a ill-conceived effort to improve them. Sage advice sometimes falls on deafen ears. many experts, who have been in the hobby numerous years, have tried and failed in most instances .
This, by no stretch of one ’ sulfur imagination, will not be a how-to article on scavenge coins. rather, we ’ ll discuss the methods of clean for those who will not heed our admonition. All we ask is that you don ’ t come exclaim to us when a perfectly good coin has been ruined for all time. We have been in the hobby for about 60 years immediately ( we started very, very unseasoned ! ) so our advocate is measured with a good bargain of experience .
As we said, not all houseclean is bad or deleterious in itself. What we ’ rhenium saying is that certain methods should be entrusted entirely to a identical experience and knowledgeable professional. Stop to consider for a here and now that you would not take it upon yourself to restore or improve a valuable painting. You would seek out an individual best equipped to handle the project, an expert. The same proverb applies to our coin hobby .
Before going any far, we suggest to those who are going to attempt to clean despite our admonition to experiment first on coins of little or no premium above the confront respect, or denomination. Coins found in pouch change make good test subjects. Any flimsy sting of mishandling or mistreatment on a more expensive mint will adversely affect it both aesthetically and monetarily .
In basic terms, there are two types or methods of clean coins. They are identified as abrasive and non-abrasive .
abrasive clean will constantly remove some share of the coin ’ south metallic, careless if you can see it or not. This is a cold fact. harsh clean is, without any doubt, the more harmful of the two methods and should never be considered .
What is abrasive scavenge ? It is the march of using an acidic means or a wire brush on the coin ’ s surface. The wire brush technique is much referred to as “ whizzing ” .
abrasive scavenge besides activates the oxidation summons of a mint ’ sulfur metal. The coin will more likely than not turn blue over a relatively short time period of time .
No doubt you are familiar with the versatile mint “ dips ” on the market. They must sell like hotcakes because there are several brands available and they are continually advertise. But did you besides know that most of them are acidic ? No matter how alluring the label on the package reads, my advice is to steer well-defined of these products or use extreme caution if you insist on trying one or the other brands out there .
While it is surely true that a flying dip of a divide of a second may not cause excessively a lot obvious damage, it will however remove some alloy, no matter how flimsy .
The vector sum surface will have an “ artificial ” look. The original metal “ flow lines ” will be gone and you lose that fantastic “ cartwheel ” effect that makes an uncirculated mint so invoke.

coin_dipping The coin ’ south stream lines originate in the mint process and give the mint its reflective properties. Dipping, even for a millisecond, will reduce or eliminate these flow lines. The mint will besides lose its natural mint-made luster. Dipping, no topic how rebuff, may very good cause “ pitting ” on the open. Remember besides that the longer the dip the more the likely wrong. It can, and normally does, turn an very well mint into a pawl. The dip does not death constantly as we shall soon see .
Have you ever seen a blazing “ white ” U.S. Morgan silver medal dollar without any tell of even a flimsy bit of toning ? These coins are well over 100 years old and, except for the hoards released by the U.S. Treasury about 50 years ago, it is virtually impossible for any flatware coin that old to be as bright and bright as the day it fell off the coining press. The answer is a agile dip. Toning is a natural phenomenon to any silver detail, including coins. Toning is arsenic much a depart of the coin ’ s aging process as wrinkles are to you and me as we advance in age. No matter how careful grandma was with her flatware target adjust and no matter how cautiously it might have been wrapped, toning occurs and the silver clean comes out .
As to the dipping not lasting everlastingly, I personally have witnessed many coins that turned blue or had black specks and spots in a relatively short period of meter. One incidental in particular is the deplorable story of a group of commemorative coins I dispatched to a major grading service in the states. The coins were punctually received by my customer and he was well pleased with the assign grades, evening remarking at the fourth dimension that some of the coins actually “ look better ”. He had bought them unencapsulated from a trustworthy source, or so he believed .
My acquaintance called me less than a year by and by in an about panicky voice. I went good over to his apartment. Five of the coins turned either completely colored or had numerous total darkness specks here and there. I sent them off to the company that had encapsulated them with a eminence describing the circumstances. Two weeks late all five coins were returned in newfangled holders and were wholly “ white ” again, albeit without the menstruation lines or silver dollar effect. The fall cargo besides included a letter of apology, which was nice but did not address the problem in the first set. You guessed it ! They dipped the coins. This in hurt of the fact that they did then, as immediately, submit that they do not dip coins and do not grade dip coins. Caveat buyer .
The point to remember is that a dip coin will either return to its previous non-dipped country or worsen over fourth dimension .
As to the non-abrasive houseclean method acting, a professionally performed non-abrasive houseclean will not, in most instances, subject a coin to lose its metallic element flow lines or aesthetic qualities. If carefully and professionally accomplished it should not cause any pit on the mint ’ randomness surface nor should it cause the artificial look so prevailing with harsh cleanings .
In the past, I have briefly submerged a coin in a warm condense water bathe. The results were, for the most separate, satisfying. I first practiced on several coins from my ordinary change. A acquaintance of mine has reported success using a bath of denatured alcohol. I haven ’ triiodothyronine tried it myself therefore can not comment on its merits or lack thereof .
There are surely other non-abrasive methods that a master can point out to you. Consult inaugural and make certain that this is what you want to do. You will not receive any guarantee that the serve will work with any degree of atonement on your behalf .
Some pointers are in order on the buy side so as to help you avoid clean coins .
Take precautions based on what we have already discussed. When contemplating the purchase of a bright uncirculated ( or Mint State ) coin, front for the metallic element flow lines that emit that fantastic reflective burn that we collectors are so affectionate of. When lento rotating the coin as it is tilted to and fro, you should see that “ cartwheel ” effect that we mentioned earlier. In other words, you should notice the effect of a steering wheel emitting rays of natural mirror image. If you do not see this cartwheel impression, my guess is that the coin has been dipped or is not uncirculated .
Take a close look at tone coins as well, specially if they are not encapsulated by a third-party scaling service. Sometimes a devious soul will produce an area of artificial toning on a mint so as to hide a previous cleanse job or some defect such as a rout.

As always it is best to deal with qualified and competent professional numismatists when buying coins or, heaven prevent, considering scavenge .
If all of our admonitions have fallen on deaf ears, we suggest the following if you must dip:

  1. Follow the instructions on the label
  2. Always work in a well-ventilated area
  3. Always wear gloves
  4. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap in warm to hot water after each session
  5. Experiment first with coins of little or no value
  6. Read this article again and maybe you’ll be convinced not to dip

Until future time, stay well and enjoy your hobby.

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