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European Cleaning Standards


jlueke
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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.

 

I'll be honest. If you hadn't mentioned it I would have said that there is no way that dollar of your has been in the ground for any length of time. It doesn't look to me like it has been in the ground at all. That having been said, I can only talk in terms of the effects our Brit soil and climate has on silver coins and it is not particularly `friendly'. The ground that your coin was in must have been silver friendly as there is no trace of any corrosion whatsoever. You know the story of my Mary Ryal and the effects that a few centuries of being in the ground had on that. It's butt ugly as a result.

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...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.

 

 

I'm beginning to think it's a pity we don't all clean our coins actually, i meant think of how great it would be if cleaning just wasn't an issue. If 98% of coins on offer were cleaned and everyone collected cleaned coins it'd be pretty great actually. But i collect cleaned coins anyhow so i have my bias. :ninja:

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Read what he said again Ian -

 

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

I underlined the word you missed, I know that because I missed it too the first time I read it :ninja:

 

Ah the vaguaries of language! Mea maxima culpa! ;)

 

Indeed if i had read it right in the first place I should have realised that it is far too young to have spent a couple of millenia anywhere, whether above or below ground.

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Ah the vaguaries of language! Mea maxima culpa! ;)

 

Indeed if i had read it right in the first place I should have realised that it is far too young to have spent a couple of millenia anywhere, whether above or below ground.

 

 

Ian and myself, writing of a different flavour, have to thus carefully peruse each others missives duly so. :ninja:

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Ah the vaguaries of language! Mea maxima culpa! ;)

 

Indeed if i had read it right in the first place I should have realised that it is far too young to have spent a couple of millenia anywhere, whether above or below ground.

Now! Can you be ABSOLUTELY sure that the CIA hasn't developed time travel and 'planted' a few in the iron age? :ninja:

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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.

 

 

I would actually prefer that the anti-cleaning fad continues and grows because then cleaned coins will become that much cheaper and I may even be able to afford some scarce pieces. :ninja:

 

 

The average uninformed collector here in Finland seldom has qualms about cleaning coins, and nor do on-the-side dealers mention coins that have been cleaned. Fortunately at "higher" levels coins are often listed as cleaned, even old cleaning. And I would say in general that while cleaned coins are not preferred here, they are not condemned as raped whores either.

 

Personally I do not prefer cleaned coins and avoid them when I can, but at the same time I do not abhor them. It is part of their history (though maybe an unpleasant one), and sometimes (heavan forbid) they even look better. I see it the same way as when I admire older historical architecture in different cities, many of them have been repainted, copper roofing replaced, or even roadside cobblestones dug up to make the roads somewhat even again. The charm is still there for me, even though there has been some reprocessing.

 

In practice I do not clean my coins (unless they have been hit by the green or then have something obvious to remove), nor will I buy cleaned-to-the-extreme coins (polished, brushed, etc.) unless it is a very scarce piece. At that point I am more happy to have a cleaned piece than no piece. (Hey, I can always upgrade. ;) )

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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 ?

 

If it such a good job that no one can tell even the experts, I see no problem. I dont remember where it was said but someone gave this scenario and someone said in essence that the coin should still be devalued even if experts couldnt tell it was cleaned. I just dont understand this thinking and can only conclude they have taken the perfectly logical arguements against cleaning to a drastic extreme.

 

I would say that no cleaning is best but in some cases, there is no way around it...its either have an undesirable ugly filthy coin...or a nicer looking cleaned coin that is worth less to some...I would go with the later in that case, especially if the coin is dirty and crusty but still has good detail.

 

IMO its a case by case basis. I also come from area of collecting were cleaning is simply required 'dirty old ancients' and have cleaned so many coins that dipping a dirty modern coin in distilled water to clear off some build-up just doesnt seem so bad.

 

Like has been said before though, fads come and go and at this time cleaning is frowned upon but I have to say if a very rare and wonderful coin came up and it had been cleaned a bit...I bet most would still desire it. As they should...a great coin is a great coin.

 

Its all in how you do it, in moderation (even with ancients one must be carefull and moderate) and know when to and know when the coin is just fine....

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I'm beginning to think it's a pity we don't all clean our coins actually, i meant think of how great it would be if cleaning just wasn't an issue. If 98% of coins on offer were cleaned and everyone collected cleaned coins it'd be pretty great actually. But i collect cleaned coins anyhow so i have my bias. :ninja:

Yes, I buy a lot of cleaned coins, whether by mistake or by design, to take advantage of a low price. A few old dealers have told me that most high grade coins over 100 years old have most likely been cleaned at least once. A few really old timers who deal coins will tell you that the practice of viewing any cleaning as damage is a recent development in the hobby. Of course, to really old timers, something that happened 50 years ago is "recent".

 

I only clean coins when they have something on them that is likely to damage the surfaces. Usually, my cleanings amount to little more than a washing or soaking, and I will tell a prospective buyer what I've done to the coin if it's a coin I'm selling.

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.

 

In practice I do not clean my coins (unless they have been hit by the green or then have something obvious to remove), nor will I buy cleaned-to-the-extreme coins (polished, brushed, etc.) unless it is a very scarce piece. At that point I am more happy to have a cleaned piece than no piece. (Hey, I can always upgrade. :ninja: )

Exactly. As long as the coin is decent and you know it was cleaned, there's no harm done to your collection.

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You hit the nail on the head there Ed, exactly my point. The "don't clean brigade" is a relatively new fad (one i was brought up with). But in the 1940s/50s cleaning was (so i'm led to believe) very common.

 

I can only presume it was accepted as standard practice until the 1960s/1970s or so (depending where you are) when someone came up with the idea not to clean.

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You hit the nail on the head there Ed, exactly my point. The "don't clean brigade" is a relatively new fad (one i was brought up with). But in the 1940s/50s cleaning was (so i'm led to believe) very common.

 

I can only presume it was accepted as standard practice until the 1960s/1970s or so (depending where you are) when someone came up with the idea not to clean.

 

 

It was a bit before that. My grandfather who was born in 1903 is the one who taught me to never clean a coin - that's what he was taught too.

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It was a bit before that. My grandfather who was born in 1903 is the one who taught me to never clean a coin - that's what he was taught too.

It would be interesting to trace this in literature over time. The Numismatist or the old Red Books would probably provide some insight into when cleaning became taboo and perhaps even why. That could be an interesting little research project. Although in Europe it seems like it has never gotten as taboo as in the US. Maybe the popular perception shifted mainly since third party grading started in the 1980's some wise grandfather's excluded.

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This reminds me of poor J. Sanford Saltus. On the eve of becoming the first American president of the British Numismatics Society, in 1922, he decided to clean a few coins in his London hotel room. He was using potassium cyanide and mistook the cyanide solution for his refreshing glass of ginger ale.

 

Doesn't that sound like one of those creepy cautionary tales for children? "You want to clean your coins, Jimmy? Well, let me tell you a bedtime story..."

 

Anyway, it sounds like cleaning was still an accepted practice in the early '20s.

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The following is from the Coin World Alamanc 1st Editon 1975:

 

"Uncirculated coins should be wiped with a piece of tryy cloth or a handkerchief." The article is otherwise cautios about cleaning and negative on treating which seems to refer to chemically altering a coin.

 

This is from the 7th edition 2000:

 

"The coin should be immersed into a good solvent that will dissolve grease and oil and carry away dust". This is in reference of pre treating a coin for proper storage as in the 1st edition but without any friction this time.

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The following is from the Coin World Alamanc 1st Editon 1975:

 

"Uncirculated coins should be wiped with a piece of tryy cloth or a handkerchief." The article is otherwise cautios about cleaning and negative on treating which seems to refer to chemically altering a coin.

 

This is from the 7th edition 2000:

 

"The coin should be immersed into a good solvent that will dissolve grease and oil and carry away dust". This is in reference of pre treating a coin for proper storage as in the 1st edition but without any friction this time.

 

***WARNING, I'm not 100% against cleaned coins*** :ninja:

 

I work with "artistic" jewelry and use many different chemicals to clean, and to tone metals. To me, as well as with any metal, the only time cleaning truly reduces the eye appeal of the coin is if it leaves pits, or scratches and hairlines.

 

Speaking on lower grade materials only (Vg and below) for a moment, I've personally restored (yes cleaned) several large cents, removed scratches in silver (anacs calls this whizzing I think), and retoned low grade coins after being cleaned (dipped) of gunk. It all boils down to it being effective, and bringing eye appeal back to a "junk" coin, and also who actually admits to doing it. I see no reasons not to clean or retone ugly worn coins, it makes them asthetically pleasing, so why not do it, in many cases it even increases the value and desirability to other collectors.

 

For anything F+ I don't know how to clean them properly without lower the grade, or eye appeal. I know many out there can, and do, and if I can't and even the TPG companies (experts hahah, right) can't tell (or dont care) why should it matter? If it looks good, do it, if it doesn't, don't.

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***WARNING, I'm not 100% against cleaned coins*** :ninja:

 

I work with "artistic" jewelry and use many different chemicals to clean, and to tone metals. To me, as well as with any metal, the only time cleaning truly reduces the eye appeal of the coin is if it leaves pits, or scratches and hairlines.

 

Speaking on lower grade materials only (Vg and below) for a moment, I've personally restored (yes cleaned) several large cents, removed scratches in silver (anacs calls this whizzing I think), and retoned low grade coins after being cleaned (dipped) of gunk. It all boils down to it being effective, and bringing eye appeal back to a "junk" coin, and also who actually admits to doing it. I see no reasons not to clean or retone ugly worn coins, it makes them asthetically pleasing, so why not do it, in many cases it even increases the value and desirability to other collectors.

 

For anything F+ I don't know how to clean them properly without lower the grade, or eye appeal. I know many out there can, and do, and if I can't and even the TPG companies (experts hahah, right) can't tell (or dont care) why should it matter? If it looks good, do it, if it doesn't, don't.

 

Yes, I work with vintage sterling jewelry too. I just made a discovery last week that has to do with artificialtoning. I had a large lot of dirty sterling chains and put them into the pickle pot which was filled with a solution of ammonia and detergent and heated to about 130 degrees. This is a quick precleaning dip I use to loosen the grime on dirty jewelry before putting it in the ultrasound tank. This is also the step between the vibratory tumbler with red rouge charged walnut hull and the ultrasound, and it saves time in the ultrasound tank. Anyway, instead of a 10 second dip, this lot of chains was mistakenly left soaking in the hot solution for several hours.

 

When I removed the basket from the pot, all the chain had toned to a gorgeous range of blues starting at medium indigo and ranging into dark, metallic navy blue. I'm going to try the treatment on a few low grade dipped silver coins to see how well the retoning works on .900 fine. I'm sure that the toning proceeded through shades of gray before arriving at the various shades of blue.

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Yes, I work with vintage sterling jewelry too. I just made a discovery last week that has to do with artificialtoning. I had a large lot of dirty sterling chains and put them into the pickle pot which was filled with a solution of ammonia and detergent and heated to about 130 degrees. This is a quick precleaning dip I use to loosen the grime on dirty jewelry before putting it in the ultrasound tank. This is also the step between the vibratory tumbler with red rouge charged walnut hull and the ultrasound, and it saves time in the ultrasound tank. Anyway, instead of a 10 second dip, this lot of chains was mistakenly left soaking in the hot solution for several hours.

 

When I removed the basket from the pot, all the chain had toned to a gorgeous range of blues starting at medium indigo and ranging into dark, metallic navy blue. I'm going to try the treatment on a few low grade dipped silver coins to see how well the retoning works on .900 fine. I'm sure that the toning proceeded through shades of gray before arriving at the various shades of blue.

 

I think that layer of color you've aquired may actually be a micro thin layer of copper leeched onto the silvers surface (we copper plate brass that way), or the impurities actually leeching out of the metal itself.

 

There is a much easier method to getting bright blue coins, we use it when we want to make something look "antique", such as the one ring I wear. Anyway its a chemical, (PM me 28 is you want to know about it, more than likely you already do though :ninja: ) which I won't mention on here just in case someone would try to sell these colored coins as the real thing. (In the right hands NOBODY, not even a TPG company can tell the difference) How do you color toned coin collectors feel about that one?

 

I do tone and clean as I said above, but morally I cannot sell them as legit coins, honesty will never bite you in the butt, dishonesty surely will!

 

You can also play with color rings by "painting" the chemical onto the coin, just tone one side if you want, heck even write your initials on it! Basically any color that can happen in nature, can happen with this chemical in a matter of seconds.

 

I can get some pics up on Monday if anyone is interested of some of the examples I've spoke of.

 

And not to get TOO off topic here, do europeans give a hoot about toning normally?

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Lots of misunderstanding here as it looks for me. This is all because of mix-up of different meaning/usage of word "cleaning".

 

Cleaned coin we call:

 

1. Coin with damaged/hairlined fields/details due to usage of improper (mechanical) methods of cleaning. For example friction of a coin with crystals of baking soda (or salt) will damage its surfaces.

 

2. Coin that was overdipped in some chemicals and upper layers of metal were dissolved by that solution. Coin is lifeless and unnatural. Damaged, but by usage of chemicals rather than by usage of mechanical methods.

 

3. Coins from earth (hoards) with heavy incrustation and/or heavy corrosion (mostly antique) restored by chemicals, electrolyzes methods or mechanically to pleasant look.

 

4. Quality modern coins where grease, oils, PVC, fingerprints were promptly removed. This coin actually looks better and can be stored for years. Some people call this "conservation".

 

While 1 and 2 most people believe are bad and most advise not to buy coins with damaged/hairlined surfaces, the other two are good and recommended by most.

 

WCO

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And not to get TOO off topic here, do europeans give a hoot about toning normally?

 

 

Depends on the tone really. If it looks 'subtle' and 'natural' (i use '' there because of course a subtle AT would get the same response) generally it goes down well. Although in some European countries cleaned coins are the order of the day. A dealer friend of mine in Germany has commented many times that alot of the material offered in Germany is cleaned. I dunno if there's any taboo on it there, Christian would be in a better place to comment on that.

 

With regards to places like the UK though, subtle toning is well recieved. Rainbow and more colourful and extreme forms of toning generally don't get very far though. I always saw toning as being a bit like gold jewellry, good in moderation, too much looks tacky, cheap and probably fake.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I think that layer of color you've aquired may actually be a micro thin layer of copper leeched onto the silvers surface (we copper plate brass that way), or the impurities actually leeching out of the metal itself.

 

There is a much easier method to getting bright blue coins, we use it when we want to make something look "antique", such as the one ring I wear. Anyway its a chemical,

 

You're probably right. Being a little underschooled about metallurgy, I simply assumed that the grunge from the old chains had dissolved in the soapy ammonia solution and had cooked up into a wicked mix of sulphides which colored the cleaned surfaces.

 

Since the last post, I tried treating an 1842 1/2 franc silver which was cleaned as most French coins I've found have usually been. The solution was fresh and had no effect on the coin's surfaces in several hours, so maybe the blue toning did come from sulphides on the old tarnished chains.

 

I know what chemical compound you're referring to, or at least one of them I use for coloring silver. Maybe I'll try using some dirty solution after the next batch of old silver jewelry I pre-clean. I'll let you know what happens.

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