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how do I keep my red pennies from turning brown.  

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Pillar of the Community
549 Posts
 Posted 10/22/2017  6:35 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add North of 49 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I'm sure this is a question that comes up from time to time.

What causes a red penny to turn brown,and more importantly, how do I keep my red pennies from turning brown.
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22775 Posts
 Posted 10/22/2017  6:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The longer they are exposed to the general atmosphere the more likely they are to gradually evolve toward brown shades. Best way is to enclose them in the best air-tight holder you can afford given the value of the coin - there are many inexpensive alternatives.
"The value of something is what you can sell it for the same day you bought it."

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13095 Posts
 Posted 10/22/2017  7:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add moxking to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I've used the air tight non-staple self seal 2x2's for over 20 years without copper or silver or nickel forming any toning or spots.

They are more expensive, $12-13 per 100, but you get a neater look and without the staples you have much more room to write too.
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 Posted 10/22/2017  8:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Hounddog Bill to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a system that was discussed here, it seems to work well.

Cheers, Bill
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 Posted 10/22/2017  9:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DEVLEC to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Bill's method seems close to if not perfect for preserving the brilliant red luster on copper.

Years back many of the mint sets did have the copper lacquered by the mint..

I've seen that method on a lot of large cents,..and it also works very well.

I saw a 29 SP cent with a very heavy clear lacquer applied..and it was PCGS graded (best known). It was the nicest SP cent that I've ever seen, and it looks like it was struck at the mint yesterday..

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 Posted 10/22/2017  11:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have tried this ONCE only, many years ago.
Wash in acetone, let dry, then spray with clear coat acrylic lacquer.
This lacquer is easily chipped, and differential toning can result in disaster. To avoid this. put the coin in an appropriate sized screw sealed acrylic capsule.
The coin can later be removed, and the clear lacquer removed with acetone.

Should retain rainbow coloring forever.

Experiment with a cheaper coin first.

The Royal Australian Mint uses weld sealed acrylic capsules for their high value proof coins. The coin will remain imprisoned forever in freshly minted state, until the capsule is destroyed, but you risk damaging the coin in the process.
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 Posted 10/23/2017  08:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add okiecoiner to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Any "red" copper or bronze coin more than 50 years old is turning/has turned brown unless it was lacquered early in life or was in the middle of a roll where no air could get to it. The natural state of any copper alloy is not "red", it's brown unless you cut off the air.
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United States
107 Posts
 Posted 10/23/2017  6:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pasasap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Not touching the coin is the first step to protecting it, because toning can happen when the coin comes into contact with acids and bacteria on a person's fingers. Sometimes this even leaves fingerprints that are the worst form of toning. Next, you need to protect the coin the best you can from contact from dropping it and from the environment (moisture in the air). Mylar does a great job of protecting, but these days we also have access to coin capsules and "do it yourself" coin slabs. However, if it is a high valued prize penny, then you probably would be better off sending it in for grading and having it professionally slabbed. But, do not think because it is slabbed you can toss it in a wet moist environment, and it will not tone within the air tight slab. You need to keep your coins in a dry environment away from moisture. Silicone packs placed near your coins is a cheap way to help protect them. Some people use mini dehumidifiers or place their coins in a room with a dehumidifier running all the time. Vacuum sealing your slab can add extra protection, but be sure the plastic bag is safe for the coin. Keep your coins away from iron because when it oxidizes (rust), it releases gases that will penetrate even slab holders and cause coins to corrode. I used to keep all my Commemorative coins in their original government boxes until I discovered the boxes were made out of cheap steel that rusted and cause the coins to tone and develop spots. The big enemy is moisture and other metals that are oxidizing. Gem BU Red pennies are all lightly oxidized the moment they leave the Mint. This process actually helps prevent further toning, but what happens is that most dealers and collectors keep their coins in a high moisture environment without even knowin git. A damp cold closet, iron safe, or attic is not the place to store coins.

I cannot say if lacquer works or not, but I would warn you against doing it. Every coin that shows up on eBay that has been lacquered ends up losing value. People want Gem BU Red with original Mint Luster, not something that was cleaned with nail polish remover and covered in a coating of lacquer. You want to protect the original Mint Luster as much as possible, and I do not believe putting lacquer on a Gem Red copper coin is a good idea. Maybe it would be okay for a circulated Large Cent, but not on a mint condition coin of any metal content.

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 Posted 10/23/2017  7:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add North of 49 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for all the advice.
Exposure to air seems to be the culprit.
I think I'll try the lacquer method as well as the air tight casuals as I have a couple of each penny that I'm trying to preserve.
Problem is that I'll have to wait 20 years or so to let you know how this works out. Haha.
thanks everyone.
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