Jump to content
CoinPeople.com

European Cleaning Standards


jlueke
 Share

Recommended Posts

In the past few months I've bought some relatively common, uncirculated workd coinage from a very reputable French and a very reputabel German company. In both cases the coins had been cleaned to an extent where I would expect a dealer in modern US coins to note the cleaning. The cleaning was minor but still distracting and not what I expected. Have others had similar experiences? Are European standards a little more lax when it comes to a few scratches and impaired lustre? Or am I making too much out of two incidents?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

I'll just say that many of the 19th century coins I get from Europe are cleaned. In one case I got a piece that was harshly cleaned (nearly polished) described as "with some light hairlines". Yeah right.

Yeah that's the era all right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen, within the past two years, U.K. listings on Ebay where the seller says something like, "all these need is a good polishing to be perfect" !!! I'm amazed that these guys still think like that. I have asked for, and received larger photos from a couple of British sellers where the coins had tons of hairlines. Needless to say, I passed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen, within the past two years, U.K. listings on Ebay where the seller says something like, "all these need is a good polishing to be perfect" !!!

Oh my. In my opinion there is a difference between cleaning and polishing. The former makes sense (if done in a professional manner) with ancients that have some kind of crust for example. The latter, well, I would not want my (future) coins to be rubbed this way. But I cannot comment on differences between American and European dealers here, due to a lack of experience in that regard. :ninja:

 

Christian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have to say it is rather common for many of the European dealers, reputable or not, to offer cleaned coins with no comment of the cleaning in the description. There was a time when the same was true in the US.

 

I think that's a large part of the reason why the slabbing of coins is still unpopular in Europe, but it is becoming more accepted as time passes. Collectors don't want to know their coins have been cleaned and most of them can't recognize that they have been. To a large degree that is true here in the US as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that's a large part of the reason why the slabbing of coins is still unpopular in Europe, but it is becoming more accepted as time passes.

 

I don't think that is the case at all, and I certainly don't think that slabbing is becoming any more accepted in right pondia with the passing of time. At least not based upon my observations of attitudes here in Britland.

 

Many people here are used to carefully handling coins that range from 500 BC through to present time. Slabbing effectively `kills' the opportunity to examine edge inscriptions and engrailings (as well as checking for fakes!) it also `encapsulates' the opinion of graders with the somewhat dubious ability to grade the particular coins in question. Having seen some attempts by ANACS, PCGS, NGC, SEGS, ACG I am 100% safe in the statement that the can't grade worth a dog's patoot as far as `world' coins are concerned.

 

Collectors don't want to know their coins have been cleaned and most of them can't recognize that they have been. To a large degree that is true here in the US as well.

 

I hope that you had your tongue in your cheek when you suggested that collectors here on the darkside don't know when their coins have been cleaned or not (?).

 

Consider that many world coin types simply don't exist in any better condition.....at least not in sufficient quantities to satisfy the collector marketplace. Certainly we darkside collectors do get used to accepting coins that don't quite have the few hundred years patination we would otherwise like to see. We wouldn't have examples of some coins at all if `cleaned' was as big a `no-no' as it is in the US. That does not mean to say that we wouldn't prefer `uncleaned'. Similarly with holed and otherwise damaged coins. Accepting holed or otherwise damaged coins does not imply that we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a damaged and an undamaged coin either! :ninja:

 

The whole subject of `cleaning' has so many caveats associated with it. If you collect ancients the norm (with few exceptions) is that the coin will have been cleaned. For some countries (for example Malta) most large silver pieces have long since been made into brooches / pendants/ fobs. Many have been repaired, but........well let's just say that for some locations just finding one that hasn't been holed or brooched, let alone had a little a bit of cleaning, is a hard task! ;)

 

Some slabbers even have their own `conservators' (that's a polite way of saying `cleaners') but of course, that's alright because the `conservators' are doing it `professionally. LOL!!! From what i see it's all a bit of a hypocracy is it not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the crossover nonsense is proof positive that slabbing means practically nothing. I am particularly amused by collectors taking coins in slabs of X company and sending them to Y company to see if it will grade higher. It is a bit like the Dutch Tulip trading scandal of the 17th century.

 

Americans in the main seem to be gullible for slabbing, somehow the ridiculous opinion of some unknown "grader" reassures them.

 

Buy the coin, not the plastic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as modifications go in coin collecting in the USA, just look at one and only one series, Draped Bust Silver Dollars, about 98% of all that I have seen are cleaned, whizzed, plugged, tooled or in some way shape or form messed with. But still these coins get graded and slabbed, many of which in my opinion are cleaned, but not noted as so on the slab.

 

Ones like this are very very difficult to find:

 

1799dollar.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think that is the case at all, and I certainly don't think that slabbing is becoming any more accepted in right pondia with the passing of time. At least not based upon my observations of attitudes here in Britland.

 

 

Well Ian, the vast majority of the time you and I see eye to eye on most things, on this one we don't. I guess it's because I have just seen too many examples of coins purchased in Europe by collectors here in the US from a dealer who most believe to be highly reputable, and nowhere in the description was there anything about the coin being cleaned. But when the coin arived, it was a cleaned coin. I am not saying this is always the case, but it happens often enough.

 

I will agree with you that the vast majority of collectors in Britain are not in favor of slabbing coins. But slabbed coins are turning up more and more in other countries and the auctions held there - and they are being purchased. I am not trying in any way to say that this is pervasive, but it is happening more frequently.

 

Many people here are used to carefully handling coins that range from 500 BC through to present time. Slabbing effectively `kills' the opportunity to examine edge inscriptions and engrailings (as well as checking for fakes!) it also `encapsulates' the opinion of graders with the somewhat dubious ability to grade the particular coins in question. Having seen some attempts by ANACS, PCGS, NGC, SEGS, ACG I am 100% safe in the statement that the can't grade worth a dog's patoot as far as `world' coins are concerned.

I hope that you had your tongue in your cheek when you suggested that collectors here on the darkside don't know when their coins have been cleaned or not (?).

 

No, my tongue was not in cheek. You see, I don't think that Europe is any different in that way than the US. And it is quite obvious that all too many collectors cannot recognize a cleaned coin. For that matter, many dealers can't either. Or at least they pretend they can't for they sure sell a great many cleaned coins without telling the buyer it is cleaned.

 

Now, I am not saying that this applies to all collectors either in Europe or the US. Certainly there are plenty of them who are quite knowledgeable and can recognize a cleaned coin with ease. But I believe there are more of them who can't. All you have to do is look at their collections, mention that this coin or that coin has been cleaned and watch their reactions.

 

I do of course agree that for the most part the TPGs do a lousy job when to comes to grading world coinage.

 

Consider that many world coin types simply don't exist in any better condition.....at least not in sufficient quantities to satisfy the collector marketplace. Certainly we darkside collectors do get used to accepting coins that don't quite have the few hundred years patination we would otherwise like to see. We wouldn't have examples of some coins at all if `cleaned' was as big a `no-no' as it is in the US. That does not mean to say that we wouldn't prefer `uncleaned'. Similarly with holed and otherwise damaged coins. Accepting holed or otherwise damaged coins does not imply that we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a damaged and an undamaged coin either! :ninja:

 

The whole subject of `cleaning' has so many caveats associated with it. If you collect ancients the norm (with few exceptions) is that the coin will have been cleaned. For some countries (for example Malta) most large silver pieces have long since been made into brooches / pendants/ fobs. Many have been repaired, but........well let's just say that for some locations just finding one that hasn't been holed or brooched, let alone had a little a bit of cleaning, is a hard task! ;)

 

Some slabbers even have their own `conservators' (that's a polite way of saying `cleaners') but of course, that's alright because the `conservators' are doing it `professionally. LOL!!! From what i see it's all a bit of a hypocracy is it not?

 

 

On this we are in agreement. But then that was not the question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well Ian, the vast majority of the time you and I see eye to eye on most things, on this one we don't. I guess it's because I have just seen too many examples of coins purchased in Europe by collectors here in the US from a dealer who most believe to be highly reputable, and nowhere in the description was there anything about the coin being cleaned. But when the coin arived, it was a cleaned coin. I am not saying this is always the case, but it happens often enough.

 

Different point entirely. A question. Irrespective of where you live in the world, if you find a long established experienced and `reputable' dealer selling you a cleaned coin without referencing it as having been cleaned, why would you assume that they `didn't know'? You would know. I would know. Many others would readily `know'. So why give the long established `reputable' dealer involved any leeway on the issue?

 

I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't. I'm also pretty sure that i'd be rather upset (read: `totally furious') if i'd paid good money for a coin that hadn't been tampered with and received a cleaned one. I speak from experiencing just that. ;) About ten years ago I bought a Queen Anne crown from a well known `reputable' UK dealer. the coin was described as `problem free good Fine'. When it arrived it was white and shiny..... Now for a coin that was near to 300 years old and had not one iota of patina on it....well I ask, is this a `problem' or is it `problem free'? I contacted the dealer involved and got a pretty poor explanation for the `error' they had made. He did however quickly offer a reduction in the price (which I did not take). I since learned that this was the standard operating procedure for this `reputable' dealer. He regularly sold coins through his `list' in the full knowledge that most buyers would not bother to argue the toss...or would accept a discounted price if they did. His reasoning was even if 10% of his customers sent the itmems back he was still well up on his dealings. Of course nowadays even rookie collectors are more `connected' and increasingly have access to a wide array of advice / forums and images via the internet that until recently could only be found in expensive and sometimes vague catalogues. They are no longer quite so reliant on dealers `dictat' as to grade or condition.

 

I would assert that the difference between a rookie failing to mention that they are selling cleaned coins and an experienced dealer failing to do the same is:- the former does so through ignorance, the latter does so with due deliberation and intent.

 

If we are in disagreement it is with the assertion that a) there is an increased acceptance of slabbed coins over here and ;) that any such increased acceptance (real or assumed) is due in the main to peoples ignorance as to whether coins are cleaned or not.

 

I will agree with you that the vast majority of collectors in Britain are not in favor of slabbing coins. But slabbed coins are turning up more and more in other countries and the auctions held there - and they are being purchased. I am not trying in any way to say that this is pervasive, but it is happening more frequently.

 

Sure. I have a few myself. I buy the coin, not the holder it comes in, and if you were to check UK auctions you will find that slabbed coins generally under perform in terms of realized prices. This might come as a shock but you can usually buy them cheaper than a `raw' equivalent. So if anyone wants to put a bargain coin my way i'll buy it irrespective of slabbing / slabbing company. That does not mean that I would submit any of my coins to slabbing...and THERE is the knub of the matter. There have been a number of attempts to get collectors here to SLAB their coins. All have failed miserably. Maybe times will indeed change but until UK collectors actually start to get their own coins slabbed (as opposed to buying up coins that have already been slabbed by US collectors and dumped on the market at bargain prices) I really can't see any evidence of increased acceptance of `slabbing' as a concept or practice in these parts.

 

 

No, my tongue was not in cheek. You see, I don't think that Europe is any different in that way than the US. And it is quite obvious that all too many collectors cannot recognize a cleaned coin. For that matter, many dealers can't either. Or at least they pretend they can't for they sure sell a great many cleaned coins without telling the buyer it is cleaned.

 

This is again at the core of the debate. from my observations it is more a matter of ethics than it is of `ignorance'. A seasoned dealer who doesn't know whether a coin is cleaned or not?.... I would suggest whether they are US or European that they know all right.

 

Now, I am not saying that this applies to all collectors either in Europe or the US. Certainly there are plenty of them who are quite knowledgeable and can recognize a cleaned coin with ease. But I believe there are more of them who can't. All you have to do is look at their collections, mention that this coin or that coin has been cleaned and watch their reactions.

 

This brings me back to what I was saying about `reliance'. I know one hobbyist (I hesitate to say `collector' because he was more of an `accumulator' than a deliberate `collector') who was seriously duped by a `reputable' dealer over a period in excess of 20 years! He asked me over one day to see his (large) collection of Brit crowns. He had bought them from the same dealer and had relied totally upon his judgement. Every single coin without exception had been polished. Not merely `lightly cleaned' or what i've seen some dealers fraudulently refer to as `cabinet friction with a few hair lines'. I'm talking about out and out shiny bright silver polishing. Ah well, at least HE liked them, but the dealer involved had commanded hundreds of pounds from this poor chap on each occasion of purchase. That to my mind is more criminal than the person who had cleaned the coin in the first place. Thankfully, not all dealers fall into the same category.

 

The internet has helped lessen the opportunity for such brazen betrayals of trust, but of course the practice continues to this day. As you rightly point out, many collectors have yet to discover the extent of their misplaced trust.

 

I do of course agree that for the most part the TPGs do a lousy job when to comes to grading world coinage.

On this we are in agreement. But then that was not the question.

 

I didn't think that we would disagree on that score, but what I said also related to the subject of cleaning.

 

For example, what is the difference between a coin that has been cleaned and a coin that has been `conserved'? I believe that NGC has a sister company which `conserves' coins and then passes them over to NGC for grading and slabbing (?). Basically, you can have your coin cleaned and slabbed by the same people so I guess because it is being done by the same totally objective experts who have no commercial interests involved (tongue in cheek) that it's alright. :ninja:

 

Ian

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll just say that many of the 19th century coins I get from Europe are cleaned. In one case I got a piece that was harshly cleaned (nearly polished) described as "with some light hairlines". Yeah right.

 

A lot of the European coins I have are so badly tarnished or stained that a little cleaning is necessary before I can identify them. I doubt it hurts thei value since they don't have any value if you can't tell what they are.

 

Gemstocks :ninja:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For example, what is the difference between a coin that has been cleaned and a coin that has been `conserved'? I believe that NGC has a sister company which `conserves' coins and then passes them over to NGC for grading and slabbing (?). Basically, you can have your coin cleaned and slabbed by the same people so I guess because it is being done by the same totally objective experts who have no commercial interests involved (tongue in cheek) that it's alright. :ninja:

 

Ian

 

 

I'm pretty sure you already know what I think - conserving is just another name for cleaning. There is a small bit of difference though, when a coin is "conserved", you usually can't tell that it was. When a coin is "cleaned", there is usually no room for doubt. Semantics I know, but the results are not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of the European coins I have are so badly tarnished or stained that a little cleaning is necessary before I can identify them. I doubt it hurts thei value since they don't have any value if you can't tell what they are.

 

Gemstocks ;)

 

Tarnishing/toning on a piece should not affect one's ability to attribute it. Nor should staining. :ninja:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the crossover nonsense is proof positive that slabbing means practically nothing. I am particularly amused by collectors taking coins in slabs of X company and sending them to Y company to see if it will grade higher. It is a bit like the Dutch Tulip trading scandal of the 17th century.

 

Americans in the main seem to be gullible for slabbing, somehow the ridiculous opinion of some unknown "grader" reassures them.

 

Buy the coin, not the plastic.

 

There are people buying coins straight from the mint and sending them to be graded and slabbed :ninja: It was worth a giggle. Though these people are most likely doing this to justify a higher price...another way to yank and extra bit of money from someone who DOES care about a slab and a number. Not quite as funny...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tarnishing/toning on a piece should not affect one's ability to attribute it. Nor should staining. :ninja:

 

I have to agree with you.

 

The only time I have actually `had' to clean coins in order to identify them was a bundle of ancients I obtained. They quite literally arrived encrusted together in a clump of clay /earth. They had to be carefully prised apart and then cleaned up (initially soaked in olive oil for a good spell and the earth removed from the coins detail / devices by using a wooden toothpick).

 

The coin collecting community is subject to `fashions / fads / trends'. Sometimes cleaning is a necessity. Sometimes it is fashionable, like `dipping' in recent years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure you already know what I think - conserving is just another name for cleaning. There is a small bit of difference though, when a coin is "conserved", you usually can't tell that it was. When a coin is "cleaned", there is usually no room for doubt. Semantics I know, but the results are not.

 

I'll split a hair here, but that is tantamount to saying that if your eye can't tell, then it hasn't been `cleaned'. Now, the untrained eye of a rookie collector might not notice a cleaned coin when a seasoned veteran would.

 

What standard do we therefore use as to what constitutes acceptable `cleaning'? :ninja:

 

On a related issue, i've seen the work of a gentleman in the US who professionally plugs holed coins and repairs `damaged' coins. I could guarantee that the vast majority of seasoned collectors / dealers would not notice...even with inspection. Conserved?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll split a hair here, but that is tantamount to saying that if your eye can't tell, then it hasn't been `cleaned'. Now, the untrained eye of a rookie collector might not notice a cleaned coin when a seasoned veteran would.

 

What standard do we therefore use as to what constitutes acceptable `cleaning'? :ninja:

 

I think that is the standard, if a seasoned veteran, experienced collector, expert - whatever you want to call it - can't tell; then what does it matter ?

 

On a related issue, i've seen the work of a gentleman in the US who professionally plugs holed coins and repairs `damaged' coins. I could guarantee that the vast majority of seasoned collectors / dealers would not notice...even with inspection. Conserved?

 

 

Good Lord of course not !! I'd call that restored ;)

 

 

Before I could believe that I couldn't tell, I'd have to see it first. You telling me that you can't tell Ian ?? I find that hard to imagine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that is the standard, if a seasoned veteran, experienced collector, expert - whatever you want to call it - can't tell; then what does it matter ?

 

What matters is that the people being trusted to `slab' know!! What matters is that they don't appear to pass on that knowledge by way of labeling the coin and as a consequence the potential buyer is potentially being (IMHO) duped. Put it this way, if you had the choice between two coins of the same type, same grade, same eye appeal, but one had been `conserved' the other hadn't....which one would you spend your hard earned cash on? :ninja:

 

Good Lord of course not !! I'd call that restored ;)

Before I could believe that I couldn't tell, I'd have to see it first. You telling me that you can't tell Ian ?? I find that hard to imagine.

 

I'd have answered exactly the same as you Doug. We're like two peas in the same pod at times. ;)

 

The little I do know concerning cleaned / repaired / fake coins has been `bought' through hard and sometimes very bitter experience (including a fairly expensive purchase from a so called `reputable' US dealer). While I would like to say that i'll never get fooled again....there is always the possibility. The `work' I was talking about certainly had that potential. Not now though.

 

Enlarging upon that, I have a rather beautifully toned and technically uncirculated Vickie double florin. I've had it for years now. Every now and again i bring it out to look at it. A few months ago while doing just that, for some reason or another I decided to have a real close up look at the edge. You can imagine my surprise (actually horror) when I saw that it had a very tiny perfectly round hole drilled into the milling. I looked right round the rim and found a second identical hole 180 degrees apart. These holes had originally held two pins which in turn would have held the coin in a swivel type mount. So...my coin was `once mounted'. A `damaged' coin, and I hadn't even noticed until recently. Do I care? Pride wise...yes, but coin wise...not really. The coin is as beautiful as ever....but the next potential owner might not like it having two holes in it! Should I mention it if I ever decide to sell? Well, my conscience would force me to, but consider this: If my Vickie double florin was in a slab would anyone ever know that it has two tiny holes in it? Would it matter? I have absolutely no doubt that these holes could be `repaired' and that the coin would subsequently pass any third party graders normal inspection process.

 

As to having been taken in the past....well, I'm comforted in the knowledge that i'm not the first, and I know that there are many fakes out there that have sat in the collection of `experts' for years. I know there are modern fakes that fooled the experts too (including a rather nice Spanish trail commemorative half dollar I happened to come across). Does it matter if you can't tell the difference? Well...that's a matter of opinion too I guess, but I can tell you for sure that it would matter to me. More so if I found out AFTER i'd parted with my cash. ;)

 

Buyers tend to blinker themselves. Seeing what they want to see rather than what might be there to be seen. Thus, when coming across coins on the `hit list' in the poorly lit `coin fair' halls; being tempted with decent prices for relatively scarce items; buying from sellers we haven't seen before (and might never see again)...well we have a right dangerous cocktail. These settings are exactly how many `cleaned / conserved', damaged and fake coins manage to find new owners. Experience and training do provide a check to buyers lust / blindness but it's never a 100% safeguard....even for the seasoned vet (collector or dealer).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very interesting conversation with some very good opinions put forth i think.

 

I do often think about the point Ian raised, "what constitutes as cleaning and where is the boundary between acceptable.unacceptable?" (to paraphrase). Herein lies the problem within any discussions on this, it's a very individual thing. What one person considers merely 'dipped' another like myself considers 'cleaned', depending how one defines cleaned of course.

 

I also like the point Ian raised about Third Party Grading not always mentionning the fact and yet this is considered by some to be acceptable whilst dealers failing to mention it is not?

 

 

 

To turn the argument completely on its head

 

 

Collectors onsider cleaning to be bad because it's considered bad by the hobby at large (at least the US/Brit side, it varies elsewhere), but that's the modern perspective.

 

Why is it bad? (Not just because the coin catalogue and the dealers say so). So okay I may argue it's bad because i've been raised in the system to think that way, but is there actually a genuine reason why toning is generally left on rather than removed? What makes an uncleaned coin any more 'natural' than a cleaned one when all said and done. It all comes down to what you mean by natural, if natural meant 'looking the same colour it left the mint', then we'd all be cleaning them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of my ancients are cleaned.

 

miletos.jpg

 

I like them. But if my 1799 silver dollar, which had not spent a couple of millenia in the ground were cleaned I would not like it.

 

1799dollar.jpg

 

I will keep my diatribe short and to the point and leave the pictures to do the thousand word nonsense for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My prediction is that the anti-cleaning fad will fall into disfavor eventually and it will probably take the slabbing fad with it. Recently, I saw an old issue of the redbook in which Yeoman related the baking soda technique for cleaning coins.

 

Harsh cleaning is indeed damaging to a coin's surfaces, but such mild remedies as ammonia soaking to remove mild toning , vaseline rubs for gooey or verdigrised circulated bronzes, or wet baking soda packs for acid tinted silvers, and other enhancements which are reversed by the passage of time will probably never go out of favor with a segment of the coin collecting community, no matter how many self-impressed "experts" lecture collectors about the evils of cleaning.

 

One of my fellow orophiles here told me that someone claimed to be able to tell if a gold coin had been rinsed in acetone. I'm still chuckling over that, a year after I heard it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...