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Lacquer on old coins


bobh
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I recently bought a 5 kopek Russian coin, era of Catherine the Great, on eBay. It looked like it had been cleaned a long tme ago judging from the pictures, but it had retoned and looked rather attractive. Also, it went cheaply, so it didn't bother me too much.

 

Anyway, when I received the coin, I was surprised to find that it had some kind of slick protective coating which I assume is some kind of lacquer. I had heard that a long, long time ago, collectors used to do this quite routinely in order to preserve the nicer coins.

 

Is there any way to remove this safely? It is copper, of course, and I have had some bad experiences with acetone and copper (never with silver, though).

 

You can see pictures of it here. Thanks! :ninja:

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I read that cleaning and lacquer were very normal procedure

I seem to remember up to the 1970's

They sell a lacquer removal product ( expensive of course )

 

I would leave the lacquer on or sell the coin because if you had bad experience with acetone I do not believe there is a safer solvent

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Thanks, everyone, for your kind advice! Of course, this coin isn't really worth doing anything about -- I wouldn't have bought it except that I have done business many times before with this seller, and each time I was happy with the outcome. So maybe I should have looked a little closer at the pictures! (OTOH, it would be an excellent candidate for some kind of crazy experiment ... heh, heh, heh ... :ninja: )!

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Here are two that I can remember off hand - there should be more but I can't quite remember what they are at the moment, or rather, too lazy to photograph them. :ninja:

 

Portugal 1920 2 centavos. (thanks to Jose)

909535.jpg

Pretty coin, and the lacquer is there to preserve the underlying redness I guess. :lol:

 

Russia 1812 SPB 2 kopeks

911520.jpg

Super ugly 2 kopeks with pittings but I guess the varnish is there to prevent it to get worse. Not going to complain as I got it as a lot :cry:

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That looks pretty awesome as-is. If it were mine, I'd leave it alone.

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I have heard, but NOT TRIED, that acetone or nail polish remover will do the trick.

 

Do NOT use nail polish. The additives will discolor the coin. Buy pure acetone at most hardware shops. A quick bath in the acetone, allow to air dry, a rinse in distilled water, and then a pat (don't rub) with a soft towel. Keep in mind that acetone is HIGHLY flamable and only use it outside or in a well-ventilated area.

 

Lacquer was (and among old-timers still is) quite often used to protect copper from oxidizing. Be aware, however, that if the lacquer has been on the coin for several years (maybe decades) you will have absolutely no idea what color the coin actually is as the lacquer itself has probably discolored. Once removed, the coin will look just as it did when first painted.

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I agree with the others. Laquering was a way of protecting coins in the past. I have one Roman coin that I believe is laquered. I'm not about to mess with it and I would recommend that you resist the urge as well. The coin is beautiful as is and carries its own history.

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If you're quite sure it's lacquer, clean acetone will bring it off completely without any problem. Maybe the bad experience you had with acetone was from some contaminated acetone. I've seen no trace of discoloration on bronze coins from the acetone dipping I've done so far.

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