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What's So Bad About A Cleaned Coin?

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Pillar of the Community
United States
767 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  2:16 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add scottk to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I don't know about this, but I've read that in the mid 20th century, coin cleaning was a common practice. Do y'all just think an uncleaned coin has some sort of "historic" value because it has old dirt an grime on it? Can you imagine the kinds of things that might be on an uncleaned coin? Do you think it's always possible to tell that a coin has been cleaned? Any of you ever put a penny in your mouth as a child, and have an adult tell you "Hey! Spit that out!"?

After observing many auctions, sales, and forum posts, I'm beginning to think that a pretty large percentage of casual collecters, stackers, and hoarders really don't even notice when a cleaned coin comes into their possession,, and some don't even seem to care.

Do you keep any cleaned coins?
Edited by scottk
05/31/2014 2:23 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
1531 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  2:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Cruisinfusion to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have some cleaned coins but I don't like them. I think it ruins their appearance.
Valued Member
United States
203 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  2:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add slowaltima to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a few cleaned coins. One of them, a Mercury dime, to me looks hideous because some literally polished it until it shines bright. It destroyed any value it had before, thankfully its a common year. I personally like the look of original surfaces, even if it means some grime and dirt.
Pillar of the Community
United States
4409 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  3:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MeadowviewCollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have cleaned coins in my collection for two reasons.

1. I bought them when I was first starting out and didn't know what I was doing. I keep them to remind me of my rookie mistakes.

2. Sometimes a cleaned coin is all I can afford. I'd rather fill the hole and then if possible upgrade later.

-MV
Valued Member
Canada
51 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  3:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add zeil to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you collect long enough you will most likely notice cleaned coin. I personally don't like cleaned coins because most of the time they are damaged.
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United States
23520 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  3:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Cleaned coins used to be acceptable to collectors. Coins preserved with a coating of lacquer also used to be acceptable. Today, they're not. Originality is prized above all else.

It's not a "rule," it's just how we numismatists are. And I'm OK with that.
Pillar of the Community
United States
859 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  3:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add keepcalmandcoinon to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I used to clean common or low grade coins when I was a rookie. Now I prefer the original way the coin looks, no matter how dirty. The only coin I regret cleaning is my 1883 S Morgan. It was pretty dirty but as soon as I was done cleaning it I regretted it. I think that was the last coin I cleaned.
Valued Member
United States
166 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  5:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MikeLuvsCoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You clean away the history of the coin, it's not at it's raw state.
Pillar of the Community
United States
7201 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  6:05 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
In certain instances I will accept cleaned coins in my collections;

1. If it is a tough coin or variety I am unlikely to be able to find otherwise.

2. I didn't know it was cleaned or could not tell.

3. The cleaning is old and doesn't affect the appearance of the coin much.

4. It's a coin I really want and it is tough to find in the same condition, with the pretense of an upgrade down the road when I find an original specimen,

Otherwise I would almost always pass on them, in favor of an originally toned or lustrous coin.
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
ANA Life Member #3288 in good standing since 1982, EAC Member #6202, NBS Member, 2 variety collector.

See my want page: http://goccf.com/t/140440
Pillar of the Community
Canada
5417 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  6:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add zxcccxz to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
My main issues with cleaning are:
1) A cleaned coin loses it's original mint luster.
2) If cleaning is done harshly or with something like a wirebrush, the coin becomes unattractive and will not wear evenly and has long-lasting scratches.

However, if and only if the following conditions are met I will buy a cleaned coin:
1) The coin is still attractive, has not been harshly cleaned and sports no obvious signs of cleaning.
2) If it's at 50% of regular list, proving that I could sell it immediately for atleast as much as I bought it for.

I will buy a cleaned coin or any problem coin under the following conditions:
1) The coin is still attractive. This is my main selling feature, no matter how rare the coin is I won't buy it if I can't stand having to look at it in my collection.
2) It is a rarity that I cannot either afford or cannot find in a high-grade or problem-free (Rule 1 still applies)
3) It's highly discounted and I know that I can easily and quickly flip it for atleast a decent profit (Rule 1 applies but not always).

So yea, maybe my opinion differs from the vast majority of numismatists, I don't put as much weight on an "original, raw coin" and what matters most to be is the coin being attractive, the history is all still there.
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United States
2199 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  7:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cipster to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
My policy on buying cleaned coins varies based on the series. My area of interest is old copper and bust half dollars.

Rule #1 - I never buy old copper that has been cleaned as I find the appearance to be offensive.
Rule #2 - I do buy bust half dollars that have old cleanings. Many of these coins were family treasures and people would clean their silverware and also clean their silver coins. So many of them were cleaned at some time. Fifty cents was a lot of money in the early 1800s so families cleaned up their treasured coins. I'm on a budget so if I can find an AU half dollar that was cleaned a long time ago and is re-toning I'll buy it.

Just my opinion of course.
Member ANA and EAC

"You got to lose to know how to win".
Dream On by Aerosmith
Pillar of the Community
United States
767 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  8:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add scottk to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hm. I'm surprised to see such a variety of viewpoints.

This is very interesting

Pillar of the Community
Korea, Republic Of
1881 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  8:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Matteproof to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A few reasons that I do not like cleaned coins:
1) Most cleaned coins have unsightly, distracting hairlines all over the surface, which detracts from its eye appeal.
2) Cleaned coins are stripped off their original toning.
3) Cleaned coins destroy the value of a coin.
4) Cleaned coins destroy the history of a coin. As numismatists, we should and must realize that we are to preserve history through coins. However, cleaning coins that do not need to be cleaned (that means with an exception of restoration, cleaning dug/ancient coins) for the sole benefit of a numismatist/scammer is destroying the history of a coin on its surface.
5) Cleaned coins are more difficult to sell later on, and many cases you will lose your money.
6)Cleaned coins are damaged, problem coins - And I personally do not care for damaged coins unless problem-free examples are expensive.

Some reasons why I sometimes buy cleaned coins:
1) Problem-free, not cleaned coins are too expensive.
2) The cleaning is light/doesn't detract much from its eye appeal.
3) It is a good way to add high-grade examples to my collection, because cleaned high grade coins cost a lot less than original examples.

But most cases, I would buy a low-grade coin over a cleaned, high-grade coin.
Valued Member
United States
301 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  9:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coinaddict1795 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Honestly, it depends on the look and type of coin. I will never buy cleaned copper, it just looks terrible and I've never been able to retone. Now, if its a rare silver coin, or a very high grade coin that someone has lightly cleaned (not buffed or brushed) I will buy it at or below 50% of book value, and just retone it in manila envelopes. Now, once and if I spend all the time and energy retoning a coin, I will never sell or trade it. I actually retoned an old 1/2 dime and sent it to NGC, and it came back problem free! Mind you, it was very lightly cleaned and the person I bought it from told me she cleaned it but regreted it. I suppose everyone has their own preferences and personal opinions. This is just mine.....
Valued Member
United States
442 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  10:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Not Mint to Be to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The definition of "cleaned" can vary. Many times I think the TPG will return a coin as cleaned when it is just circulation wear. I think of cleaned as almost scrubbed with all kinds of hair lines. As some of the other posters have said cleaned copper takes on a completely different look.
Valued Member
United States
291 Posts
 Posted 05/31/2014  11:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jhp2104 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What does everyone think about a coin that has been "professionally" restored / conserved, etc... that needed the treatment? I am specifically thinking about shipwreck gold. I've looked at a number of these types of coins that are in problem free TPG holders. They have all been "cleaned", yet this type of treatment is market acceptable.
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