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I Never Clean My Coins, But Are There Rare Times When I Should?

 
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 Posted 06/09/2021  10:16 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add skeddadler to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Is there ever a time when I should be cleaning my coins? I don't mean anything that involves scrubbing, or damaging the metal, but is it always safe to stick a coin in a holder or even in a coin flip, or are there certain materials that can be found on the surface of a coin that will continue to damage it over time if left unchecked?

I don't feel like I am advanced enough in the hobby to always recognize when I have a valuable coin on my hands, and I feel super paranoid about devaluing any coins through cleaning. However I've read several posts here since I joined that mention using substances such as acetone and olive oil when there is a great need. But what constitutes a great need? What about if there is something like a piece of gum or a sticker on the surface of the coin? What about if there's a random speckling of bright green dots on a coin that is mostly silver-colored (it throws off the eye appeal of the whole coin)?

Any advice that answers these questions or that supplements my inquiries would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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 Posted 06/09/2021  10:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add macmercury to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Acetone is not going to harm coins, I have questions in regard to coins that has verdigris, rust and how to stop and or remove it? And acetone will not help or remove it.

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 Posted 06/09/2021  11:59 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add skeddadler to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
So acetone won't hurt them or their value at all? How long do I leave it in acetone? Does it matter where I buy the acetone?
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 Posted 06/10/2021  02:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sel_69l to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Almost all ancient coins have been cleaned, in some way or other, after recovery from direct contact soil burial. They are best left to the museum professionals to be cleaned.
Several very different methods to clean such coins have been successful. The method chosen will be determined by experience, judgement and quite frankly, luck. Even museum professionals can be unlucky enough to get it wrong. That's OK, they take the risk.

Olive oil is slightly acidic, and in most cases, will definitely darken a bronze or copper coin, and if left long enough, will eventually turn it black. Experience and judgement will help in determining how long such a coin should be immersed in olive oil, then rinsed in acetone.

If a bronze coin suffers from verdigris attack, it will eventually be completely destroyed, given enough time.
However, there are several chemical treatment variations on how to passivate bronze disease. Some historically significant bronze coins are definitely worth saving.

I have seen a dealer remove unsightly toning from a modern proof silver with a quick rinse in silver jewelry cleaning solution. Very risky, experience needed, but I have seen some very positive results. I haven't got enough nerve to try it for myself, but then again, I don't collect modern proof silver, so no worry for me.
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 Posted 06/10/2021  02:33 am  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
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Make sure the acetone is 100% pure. You can find it at Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, etc. for about $8 per container. Acetone will remove some surface contamination, but does not do any harm to the coin. Don't use fingernail polish remover as it has additives that may harm coins. Don't wipe the coins with anything, but you will want to rinse them with distilled water and let them air dry.
"Shine, shine a Roosevelt dime. All the way to Baltimore and runnin' out of time." Tom Waits-Clap Hands



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 Posted 06/10/2021  07:39 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ijn1944 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Acetone is your friend--when used properly (good ventilation, etc.).
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 Posted 06/10/2021  09:47 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Acetone is certainly a safe product, and Verdi-Care will usually dampen or remove the effects of corrosion on copper, though sometimes leaving a contrasting surface color in its wake.



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 Posted 06/11/2021  06:10 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
There are several exceptions to the "don't clean coins" rule. They are sufficiently rare and/or specialist that the rule still holds, generally.
- Coins dug with a metal detector. Whether ancient, mediaeval or modern, they will likely be corroded or otherwise require "harsh" cleaning, even just to bring them to a state of being able to be identified. Ancient coins are a subcategory of this, albeit at the extreme end - a copper or bronze coin that is freshly dug up from the ground will normally look like a little green rock; making such coins look like coins again, without damaging them, is an art akin to fossil extraction.
- Coins with active corrosion, such as verdigris. Failing to remove the corrosion can result in the corrosion spreading, eventually destroying the coin completely.
- Coins that have biological or organic debris attached to them. We're talking paint, glue, lacquer, sticky-tape, chewing gum or the "green goo" residue that accumulates on coins that are stored in certain types of plastic for too long. Acetone, or similar solvents, remove the goo without removing the metal or metal oxides on the coin. This is "aceptable cleaning".
- War medals. You can't stop an old soldier from polishing his/her medals, so we've given up trying. War medals can be polished without losing their value or desirability, so long as the polishing is not too harsh or done with the wrong method (eg. using silver polish on brass, or vice-versa).
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 Posted 06/12/2021  06:45 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Yes clean coins as much as possible. Use a wire brush to make sure you get all the dirt Then mine will be worth more since I don't clean mine.
Actually one of the main reasons NOT to clean a coin is the actual removal of some of coins original material. For example as Silver tarnishes, which is normal, it takes on additives like Oxygen. When and if this tarnish is removed, so does some of the metal that became tarnish. Continuing of removal of Tarnish slowly destroys the coin. On Copper types of coins you would notice a slow change in color as the Copper takes on Oxygen. Again, as the resulting Copper that was now mixed with Oxygen is removed, so is some of the original Copper of the coin.
In addition to the actual removal of some of the coins original material is done by cleaning. In many instances minor scratches are added to the coins by the use of things like toothpicks, small tools, cotton swabs, etc. Even those can become an irritant to a fine arts type of collector.
In summation it is much better to not clean coins.
just carl
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