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Ok... So Tell Me... Why Shouldn't Coins Be Cleaned?

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 Posted 10/24/2020  4:46 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Nells250 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
HI all

I'm a semi-sorta-ififindaneatoneikeepit-coin person who is very curious about something...

I have been collecting various things for many years, like stamps, ephemera, railroad items, automotive items, etc. Each group of collectors likes/expects different things.

Now, I've been looking around at older threads here pertaining to cleaning coins. It seems most people agree DO NOT CLEAN YOUR COIN... unless it is brand spankin' new and you placed one of the first fingerprints onto it.

Now, here is my question:

WHY shouldn't you clean them?




Being a gal who usually prefers things to be in original condition unless it was just too far gone, or on the verge of disappearing without some human help, I SHOULD understand this... BUT...

Coins are metal. Metal corrodes. Why is a coin WITH corrosion ok? Because physical cleaning effects the coin's impression?

Don't shiny, unworn coins have more value? A coin stored away from oily fingers for 100 years MUST be worth more than one handled all that time, even if it still looks PHYSICALLY unworn.

Like silver coins... don't they tarnish? If so, wouldn't a dulled coin be worth less than one that has somehow or other retained it's "shiny allure"?

Is it because "mechanical cleaning" effects the metal itself, making imperfections? THAT I totally understand.

But what about a hundred year old coin with a century of "shmoo" on it... enough to hide the true physical quality underneath? Why wouldn't you want to clean it off to expose the coin's impression? What if it is a GOLD coin? Or is the gold too soft and will scratch or something?

Curious.................

JD
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 Posted 10/24/2020  5:30 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Lot of questions to unpack but I'll do my best.

The number one rule to stand by is that altering a coins surfaces is a no-no. That being said there are methods to "clean" a coin without altering the surfaces.


Quote:
unless it is brand spankin' new and you placed one of the first fingerprints onto it


Even then no. You can use acetone or xylene to conserve the coin, but don't clean it.


Quote:
WHY shouldn't you clean them?


Any form of cleaning damages the surfaces and removes the originality of the coin.


Quote:
Coins are metal. Metal corrodes. Why is a coin WITH corrosion ok? Because physical cleaning effects the coin's impression?


Corrosion isn't okay, that's why we have methods to remove some types of corrosion. But I'll ask this, if we assume the corrosion has eaten into the surfaces, and it can be removed, would you rather have a coin with a light layer of corrosion or one that looks like the surface of the moon?


Quote:
Don't shiny, unworn coins have more value?


Well yeah, anything uncirculated is gonna be worth more than something that was circulated.


Quote:
A coin stored away from oily fingers for 100 years MUST be worth more than one handled all that time, even if it still looks PHYSICALLY unworn.


Of course it would have been handled, the difference is whether it caused wear on the surfaces or altered them. I have no problem picking up a raw uncirculated bust dollar, it's a matter of how you handle it that matters. I've handled 7 figure raw coins before it doesn't cause wear (but is cool).


Quote:
Like silver coins... don't they tarnish? If so, wouldn't a dulled coin be worth less than one that has somehow or other retained it's "shiny allure"?


Yes they do tarnish, but some tarnish can add value, colorful attractive tarnish is referred to as toning and usually adds value. Black dark toning usually detracts from value, but there are exceptions where it adds value, it's best to assess on a case by case basis.


Quote:
Is it because "mechanical cleaning" effects the metal itself, making imperfections? THAT I totally understand.


Any form of cleaning effects the metal unless you use a method that doesn't. Long story short. If you have to touch the metal with something to clean it, it's bad. If it's an acid, it's bad. Some bases are bad too.


Quote:
But what about a hundred year old coin with a century of "shmoo" on it... enough to hide the true physical quality underneath?


Again, case by case basis, and there are very specific things you do in this case. I've known high six figure coins ruined by cleanings.


Quote:
What if it is a GOLD coin? Or is the gold too soft and will scratch or something?


You can treat any metal as long as you do it correctly
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
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 Posted 10/24/2020  5:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Nerd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Silver tarnish on uncirculated coins that is bright blue is considered very desirable to collectors and will command a premium. If an uncirculated coin is covered with BLACK tarnish (which is advanced tarnish) it could be cleaned, by a professional that is.

The general rule is that the appearance should equal the grade. If a coin is obviously worn but is bright and shiny, it is undesirable because it doesn't look natural. If coin cleaning is done, it must be done in a non-abrasive manner. Scrubbing, like with silver polish, will cause scratching on the surface and greatly devalue the coin. If a silver coin has some black tarnish but it's not distracting, then it should not be cleaned.

Rarely is there ever a time when a coin ought to be cleaned. Also tarnish on silver is not corrosion as silver is very resistant to corrosion; it is simply the silver reacting with oxygen. Corrosion would occur if the coin received salt water or PVC damage.
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 Posted 10/24/2020  7:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Coins recovered from ground burial (by detectorists or archaeologists) need to be cleaned, just to be able to identify them.
Sometimes, scrubbing in the field with a soft copper wire metal brush is necessary to remove hard encrustations that have fused with the coin.
Museums use a variety of methods to clean and preserve ancient coins. There are always risks involved.

I am not an archaeologist, a museum curator, or a metal detectorist, so I never clean coins,
except perhaps, circulated gold coins in soapy water, rubbing with clean fingers that have been softened in the water.

Impossible to remove fingerprints from coins, if they have been there for more an an hour or two. Immediate acetone bath after exposure is necessary.
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 Posted 10/24/2020  8:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's decision tree time (if that statement makes your eyes glaze over, then go to the next post).

Question 1. Do you EVER plan to re-sell the coin in question?

If NO - Do whatever you like with the coin! Clean it ... paint it... put a hole through it and use it as jewelry... draw a moustache on Lincoln, Jefferson, Ike, Liberty, Susan B Anthony, or even the poor buffalo. And feel free to ignore anything else you read here.

If YES ...

Question 2 - Is the coin worth much?

If NO, see answer to Question 1. There will be many buyers of low value coins who can't tell if it has been cleaned, or don't care.

If YES, Read all the other posts in this thread. And all the other threads you can find by typing "cleaning coins" into the search field. Because "improper" cleaning can significantly affect the value of your coin

Have fun and don't stress.



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 Posted 10/24/2020  9:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Mr T to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Some coins need to be cleaned but I think the advice to never a clean a coin is more to stop people who don't know what they are doing from irreparably damaging a coin.
I would always try and remove corrosion or anything that will make a coin worse over time.
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 Posted 10/25/2020  12:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Chase007 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
GrapeCollect:Nice job explaining
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 Posted 10/25/2020  09:06 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
GrapeCollect:Nice job explaining

I'll second that.


Quote:
Also tarnish on silver is not corrosion


This is not "technically" an accurate statement. Corrosion, tarnish and toning are all the same chemical reaction. There is just a value judgement embedded in each word (corrosion = bad; toning = good), and "corrosion" usually refers to a greater extent than tarnish or toning (which pertain to a surface layer).
Edited by tdziemia
10/25/2020 09:18 am
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 Posted 10/25/2020  09:30 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Regardless of no cleaning or cleaning, once you buy a coin or find a coin, it's yours. Do with it as you wish. It's yours. If you want to dip it in acid, polish it with auto polish, scrub it with steel wool, all makes no difference since it's yours. HOWEVER, if you ever want to sell it, you would find you have lost a lot of value since most collectors and dealers will not pay as much for a cleaned coin. And many will not even want it.
Isn't it odd that for a collector type car it has to be cleaned. For old furniture, no cleaning.
just carl
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 Posted 10/25/2020  09:58 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Chase007 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
well stated.
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 Posted 10/25/2020  12:51 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Nells250 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting replies so far.

I have to confess that I finally asked this question because of some older posts regarding brand spankin' new but circulated US coins. I got two 2020 nickles in change yesterday and tried not to touch the faces of them, but that is pretty much impossible once they hit my pocket!

And I seem to have rather "harsh" fingers......... the original leather steering wheel in my 1998 Crown Vic totally degraded! When we replaced it with a nice used one, I regularly cleaned it with a leather treatment JUST because of my evil fingers!

This also makes me careful with my ephemera and photo collections...

ANYHOO, wouldn't a NEW coin be RUINED by that first fingerprint? Reading here, it sounds like YES and also NO! Hence, more confusion on my part...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
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 Posted 10/25/2020  10:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@ Nells250:
As an aside to this thread: colored canuba wax on the leather steering wheel cover should work fine! (I have three old classic cars).

Incidentally, museums sometimes use Renwax on ancient bronze coins, to help preserve them.
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 Posted 10/25/2020  11:13 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Morgan Nerd to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What amazes me is that NGC and PCGS graders don't use gloves to handle coins! They say it's so that they won't drop them because cotton gloves don't have good grip, but why can't they use nitrile gloves instead? They're the absolute best for coins.

If I'm going to handle circulated coins, I don't usually use gloves; I just hold them by the edge. But if the coin is mint state, I would use nitrile gloves for added protection.

If I were sending a coin worth over $100,000 dollars to NGC, I think I would be a bit nervous knowing that it was going to be handled with bare hands! The people who mount the coins in the holders also don't wear gloves!

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 Posted 10/25/2020  11:21 pm  Show Profile   Check GrapeCollects's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GrapeCollects to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@morgannerd, I've handled raw coins worth well over six figures before. Just don't be stupid about it and there's no risk. Gloves also have chemicals in them that can be harmful to coins.
My best finds: 1999-WAM:http://goccf.com/t/332161 1988-RDV-6:http://goccf.com/t/335954#2873459 1986-Off-center: http://goccf.com/t/335952
1999 WAM #2:http://goccf.com/t/338710&whichpage=1
1981 Double Struck In Collar: http://goccf.com/t/350199&whichpage=1
ANA id: 3194067
My Type Set: https://www.NGCcoin.com/registry/co...sets/236574/
If you want to buy something or sell something or just talk, shoot me a PM!
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 Posted 10/25/2020  11:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add macmercury to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good answers from all, I wish more collectors get the chance to read this subject outside of CCF, especially some of those coin sellers on eBay.

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 Posted 10/25/2020  11:36 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Safaga to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
On the other hand, at the rare book library that I frequently consult, the practice was to use gloves but they then discontinued it. They currently consider the actual feel of the page against the bare skin is safer than through gloves. They do require well-washed hands. For example, I've handled Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, as well as other rare books, with my bare hands. Thus I understand the TPGs handling of rare coins with their bare hands.
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