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Old Copper Originality

 
 
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275 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2018  9:06 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Dlangs56 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hi all -- over the past year, thanks to this forum, I've felt increasingly confident about detecting cleaning on silver coins. Copper -- not so much, I don't know the telltale signs. To complicate matters, I saw a video of some EAC person I believe showing how to oil coins for preservation and beauty or something like that. It's a bit confusing -- so is shiny "good" for old copper? This is a roadblock in my decision to chase Half Cents. Any good threads someone can point me to? Thanks in advance.
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 Posted 02/03/2018  11:26 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MikeF to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wonderful question and this will be a great thread. I need to take some pictures from my collection before I can contribute in a meaningful way. But generally speaking, when searching for original early copper coins, you want to shoot for that dark chocolaty appearance. I hope I didn't make anyone hungry with my description.
Hi, my name is MikeF and I'm a degenerate coin collector. I also like adventure, big trucks, long walks on the beach and the Kansas City Chiefs.
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 Posted 02/03/2018  11:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add acloco to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Will type this first:

".....because money is involved in our hobby/passion"


Several directions are included.

STOP any issues that can be detrimental to the coin surviving (preservation).

STOP any issues that might not be noticed currently (conservation).

Enhance the coin in any way - call it what you wish.



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 Posted 02/04/2018  8:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add MeadowviewCollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
One telltale sign of cleaned copper is a pinkish hue

You might consider acquiring a copy of Grading Guide for Early American Coppers by Eckberg, Fagaly, Fuoss and Williams here's a copy for sale 263474291423

Well written description of what all is covered in the book http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n06a04.html

-MV
I'm slowly building my numismatic library--106 works and counting

With assistance, trying to compile a listing of numismatic reference books & materials available to collectors http://goccf.com/t/174749
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 Posted 02/05/2018  10:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Putting anything on a coin could do more damage that you would think. Remember coins are just metal and that metal could react chemically with oils, liquids, etc. Unless you know what the oil has in it aside from just the oil, you could damage a coin by using it to make it shine.
just carl
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 Posted 02/05/2018  10:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SilverDollar2017 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Personally, I would NEVER apply any oil to the surface of copper coins. It may do more harm than good.
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 Posted 02/05/2018  5:29 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add chesterb to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the link meadowcollector. That is a good book to have in any early copper collectors library.
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 Posted 02/05/2018  7:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dlangs56 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the input guys, and excellent book recommendation. I see plenty of hedging words, could, would, may, unless. I expect that is because it is a complicated topic that is difficult to fully articulate. Perhaps best to just go for the lowest common denominator on this uncommon lowest denomination which is non-corroded and non-damaged -- and of course read the book.
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 Posted 02/05/2018  8:25 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Early copper is unique and there are lots of approaches. The old school uses Blue Ribbon conditioner with a very, very soft brush, e.g. "camel" hair, ox, or sable. This keeps the copper preserved and removes any dust or other disturbances that may have gathered on the surfaces. Other collectors will often use Verdi-Care with similar brushes. Acetone is generally avoided, as are mineral spirits and oils since oils will attract dirt and other things that may scratch or damage the coin.

Old-timers had ways and means of darkening coins using heat and sulfur and smoke, and the secrets thereunto are closely kept. A product was available (Deller's Darkener) that was a sulfur-based cream. Coins treated as such tend to have a trademark uniform dark brown to almost black appearance as well as a smell that is easily detected.

Polishes, abrasive cleaners, dips, retoning agents, and such are definitely a big no-no, as is wiping or applying mechanical friction against the surfaces with anything but the softest cloth.

Old copper toned different depending on the particular mix of whatever planchets were being used, so there is a wide spectrum of color from mint-red to dark brown, but "shiny" surfaces or mint-red color on a coin with even slight wear is almost certainly a result of improper cleaning.

When in doubt, leave it natural. You can even use a can of compressed air to blow dust off the surface (just make sure no liquid comes out!)
Member ANA - EAC - TNA - SSDC
Specializing in 1932-1964 Washington quarters

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." -- Louis D. Brandeis
Edited by paralyse
02/05/2018 8:26 pm
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United States
275 Posts
 Posted 02/05/2018  8:31 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dlangs56 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great post, thank you. My goal is not to learn how to treat, but rather to learn how to detect. I get that the two are related, and this is helpful info being provided.
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 Posted 02/05/2018  10:56 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Smell it. Does it smell like chemicals or sulfur?
Touch it (gently.) Does it feel oily, very slick, or exceptionally smooth?
Look at it in natural light. If there is luster present, is it appropriate given the visible wear?
Is the color almost black or almost pink? Those are both cleaned.

Those are all good ways to start checking.

This 1801 has been harshly cleaned; note the color.

Member ANA - EAC - TNA - SSDC
Specializing in 1932-1964 Washington quarters

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." -- Louis D. Brandeis
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663 Posts
 Posted 02/06/2018  12:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Mike1487 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Cleaned copper:
- hairlines (cleaned, sometimes harsh, or spot removal)
- Appears to have a rainbow of colors when tilting in light at different angles (cleaned)
- Looks like motor oil was spilled on it (cleaned)
- Looks like gold. Usually accompanied by loss of detail due to polishing/plating (polished/plated)
- Clearly AU or lower grade with shinier surfaces than an MS coin (polished/coated/buffed/plated)
- Blotchy/inconsistent color patterns (highly likely cleaned unless there is a planchet alloy issue)
- One side of the coin is drastically different in color than the other (possibly not definitive, but very suspect)
- Very high detail but overall dull appearance (cleaned)
- Just a dull appearance (probably cleaned)

Hope that helps. If I had example pictures I would post, that's what we really need here.
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