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Conserving An Ancient Lead Coin

 
 
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Pillar of the Community
United States
1387 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2019  9:11 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add allranger to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
After find some references to lead coins and how they have been largely ignored by collectors for years (and how British coin collectors would routinely put them in the trash bin), I decided it was an area I might be interested in. I recently purchased an Indian lead coin, pictured here:



There is some white corrosion on the surface of the coin I was not ready to address. Honestly I hadn't thought of the difference of lead from other, more noble metals when I pulled the trigger. While I generally hold to the don't clean a coin school of though, unless it is ancient, I am wondering what to do in this case? Does any one have experience with these types of coins?
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United States
22567 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2019  10:09 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would leave the coin just as it is.
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United States
552 Posts
 Posted 09/16/2019  10:25 pm  Show Profile   Check louisvillekyshop's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add louisvillekyshop to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I agree leave it alone. The orange lead oxide (white can be an oxide or grey and yours looks orange) and that is protecting it in my opinion. Not like a green bronze disease or horrible Iron Rust. This Lead Oxide stuff is stable in my opinion. Or has been for the coins I have seen.
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United States
13080 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2019  04:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@AR, I have a similar piece and would agree to not clean it. I store mine in a 2x2 in a box with some silica gel. If you live in an unusually humid location, you may want to be more careful.
"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
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Bedrock of the Community
Australia
15872 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2019  07:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The use of pure, or nearly pure lead for coins is unusual even in ancient times, because lead is really too soft to be used in a circulating coinage.

The Ishvanus of 3rd cent AD South India, the Guptas of Northern India, and the Khmer Kingdoms of Angkor issued lead coins. The Chinese also issued lead cash coins, but few of them have survived.

Generally speaking, the very thick patina that a lead coin can accumulate will protect the metal underneath, and that is why those that have survived from ancient times have managed to survive.
For this reason only remove as much of the patina that prevents the coin from being identified, by rubbing with a cotton cloth. Leave the rest of the patina for protection.
Edited by sel_69l
09/17/2019 07:13 am
Valued Member
United States
247 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2019  10:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Seeker55 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you wish to remove the loose soil I think that you could use an ultrasonic bath with a mild detergent in water, followed by rinsing in water. I agree that I would not do more than that.
Edited by Seeker55
09/17/2019 10:51 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
1387 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2019  11:01 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add allranger to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If the consensus is to leave the patina I will let it be.

For some reason I had it in my mind that the lead oxide would corrode the coin, and was thinking it would be best to remove it and coat with a layer of wax or lacquerer.
Valued Member
United States
247 Posts
 Posted 09/17/2019  11:21 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Seeker55 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes, good decision. The white lead oxide patina is correct for a lead coin of this age. I don't think it will accelerate corrosion, and may in fact protect the surface from additional oxidation. I have several similar lead coins with white patinas and they look fine.
Edited by Seeker55
09/17/2019 11:22 am
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