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Question regarding cleaning of coins


basicbob101
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Hi again,

 

Way back in the 60's when I used to collect coins there were many people who would "dip" silver coins to remove tarnish and stains that might have occured due to storage. It seemed alright, are at least I don't remember an outcry against it. Now I hear everywhere "don't clean" and the grading services won't grade a cleaned coin....does that include "dipping"? I know any abrasive cleaner is a no no, but does dipping a coin really change the coin? If there is some clod's fat thumb print right on the face of a Gem BU coin, should it stay there or is dipping OK. Seems to me it would be OK and not diminish the coins value, after time the patina would return, but the thumbprint would be gone!

 

PLUS...I have seen some of the Direct TV coin sales people offering sets that have to have been dipped...and probably yesterday...they were just all too shiny perfect to be original surface state with every single coin looking like a mirror on a BU Franklin or Ike set.

 

Would like to hear some opinions on dipping to remove unsightly fingerprints, etc...to make the entire set even in appearance that may mean dipping the entire set and then letting them age all over again for a decade or so...and in that respect...can a grading company tell if a coin was dipped 25 years ago????

 

thanxz, basic bob :ninja:

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On every coin forum there is this same question brought up at least once a month. Someone should make a permanent article on these forums that says "COIN CLEANING, DON'T"

For the most part everyone used to clean coins because we were all just new at collecting stuff. People used to restore antique funiture also. Now with things like the internet, coin shows, the Antique Road Show on TV, numerous books on old stuff like coins, it has become a really big NO,NO,NO. Don't clean coins and if you do, forget the value. Same with any old items. If a coin is beginning to look bad, just seal it in a 2x2 holder or an album or something that will restrict air and moisture from the coin.

However, if you want the coins to just look pretty and don't care about the value, try battery acid. It will usually make any coin shine. :ninja:

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Actually if you go over to the CU forums many people encourage dipping coins. They consider it "market acceptable cleaning". While I find this to be a bunch of crap other people don't.

 

For the most part never clean a coin. Once you get into collecting a lot deeper you'll start to see when dipping a coin actually benefits the value. I won't get into that because it's a bunch of rubbish. Cleaning is still CLEANING. TPG's tell us what is market acceptable and what isn't.

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Actually if you go over to the CU forums many people encourage dipping coins. They consider it "market acceptable cleaning". While I find this to be a bunch of crap other people don't.

 

For the most part never clean a coin. Once you get into collecting a lot deeper you'll start to see when dipping a coin actually benefits the value. I won't get into that because it's a bunch of rubbish. Cleaning is still CLEANING. TPG's tell us what is market acceptable and what isn't.

 

 

Just a question Burks because I think I may be misunderstanding your comments, in particular this part - " TPG's tell us what is market acceptable and what isn't."

 

Are you saying that if a major TPG slabs the coin that it is then market acceptable and thus OK, at least as far as you are concerned ?

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Are you saying that if a major TPG slabs the coin that it is then market acceptable and thus OK, at least as far as you are concerned ?

 

Nope. It seems to be a trend on some forums that if a TPG, like PCGS, slabs a coin that has been dipped then dipping is market acceptable up to a point.

 

I guess what I'm saying is there are two forms of cleaning: Market acceptable and non-market acceptable. An overdipped coin would be an example of a non-market acceptable while a properly dipped one would be fine.

 

To me, dipping is cleaning and should not be acceptable. If PCGS slabs a coin that is obviously dipped (or cleaned) I think they are wrong to do so.

 

I just don't understand how some people can say "don't clean coins" and then tell others to dip their coins and do it themselves.

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Nope. It seems to be a trend on some forums that if a TPG, like PCGS, slabs a coin that has been dipped then dipping is market acceptable up to a point.

 

I guess what I'm saying is there are two forms of cleaning: Market acceptable and non-market acceptable. An overdipped coin would be an example of a non-market acceptable while a properly dipped one would be fine.

 

To me, dipping is cleaning and should not be acceptable. If PCGS slabs a coin that is obviously dipped (or cleaned) I think they are wrong to do so.

 

I just don't understand how some people can say "don't clean coins" and then tell others to dip their coins and do it themselves.

 

 

Fair enough. But you say obviously dipped, does that mean that it is OK if the coin is not obviously dipped ?

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Hmmm - then you must believe that up to 90% of all older silver coins, and perhaps as many as 70% of all older gold coins in the world today should be considered as cleaned and be described as such. Is this correct ?

 

Actually yes I do. I understand that coins have been and always will be cleaned in some form or another. It's when people start encouraging others to do it is when the problem starts. To my knowledge once a coin is overdipped, the luster is gone forever.

 

In the grand scheme of things, I think cleaning does more harm than good.

 

My turn for a question: Why is it so many people say don't clean coins yet the market accepts cleaning? Surely the people saying not to clean coins own at least one cleaned example.

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My turn for a question: Why is it so many people say don't clean coins yet the market accepts cleaning? Surely the people saying not to clean coins own at least one cleaned example.

 

 

Simple answer to your question is that the vast majority of collectors, dealers, professional graders, professional numismatist, noted authors and just about every coin expert you can think of, are of the opinion that dipping a coin if done correctly is not considered to be cleaning. Of course you are entitled to your opinion just as much as they are.

 

It's a matter of definitions really, they have theirs and you have yours. Yours is based on a pure techincal definition. Theirs is based on a caveat - if it does not harm the coin and is not detectable then it is not considered to be cleaning but rather conservation. And if you look both words up in the dictionary you'll find similar but yet different definitions.

 

conservation - noun

1. the act of conserving; prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss; preservation

5. the restoration and preservation of works of art.

 

 

cleaning – noun

1. an act or instance of making clean

clean - verb

1. To rid of dirt, rubbish, or impurities

2. To get rid of (impurities or dirt, for example); remove

 

It should also be noted that in the context that we are using the words there are certain things that are understood by those who use them. Perhaps the most important of those is this - that cleaning a coin is harmful and detectable and that conserving a coin is not. Therefore, since dipping a coin is not detectable, if done correctly, it is considered to be the same as conserving.

 

Your choice to use the words as interchangeable synonyms is yours. Even though I understand your choice to do this, that doesn't make it correct for there is a difference in the meaning of the two words.

 

As for the second part of your question - " Surely the people saying not to clean coins own at least one cleaned example. " If you are talking about dipped coins, then absolutely, if you use your definition. But if you use theirs they do not.

 

On the other hand, if by your question you mean that they own a harshly cleaned coin - then I would say that some do and some don't. It is a question that each individual would have to answer for themselves. But even if they did, the ownership of a harshly cleaned coin in no way implies that this owner approves of it - it merely means he/she owns one of them.

 

For whatever it is worth, I personally do not advocate the cleaning of coins nor do I advocate the dipping of coins. I have always preferred a completely original coin over a dipped example. But that doesn't mean that I disagree with any of my above comments either.

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I'm afraid to let my coins near any chemicals/cleaners other than water - when I think "cleaner" I think acid eating at my pocket-size work of art! Not that I really care one way or another - if you want to clean your coins, do it and let anyone who wants to buy it know (though this is probably often not the case), just don't clean mine - though I do enjoy shiny things.

 

Is the 10 franc piece I found in the dirt considered "cleaned" if I stick it in some water for a few minutes and rub what mud I can off with a towel? Or is "clean" referring to chemicals?

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Is the 10 franc piece I found in the dirt considered "cleaned" if I stick it in some water for a few minutes and rub what mud I can off with a towel?

 

 

Yes that is cleaning. Rubbing any coin with a cloth whether it has been in the ground or not is cleaning - and harsh cleaning at that.

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As a collector of ancient coins, most of what I buy are uncleaned right out of the ground. They are covered with dirt and caked on deposits of other substances. The coins are washed to remove any of the loose deposits and than are soaked in olive oil (another thread) to soften and remove the rest of the harder substances. Is this cleaning, restoration or both? I would say that it is cleaning to restore the coin to it's natural appearance. If done correctly the toning and patina remain undamaged.

 

On the other hand dipping a coin in an acid type substance and removing the toning that took years to create, in my opinon changes the coin.

 

Just my two cents worth.

Ron

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As a collector of ancient coins, most of what I buy are uncleaned right out of the ground. They are covered with dirt and caked on deposits of other substances. The coins are washed to remove any of the loose deposits and than are soaked in olive oil (another thread) to soften and remove the rest of the harder substances. Is this cleaning, restoration or both? I would say that it is cleaning to restore the coin to it's natural appearance. If done correctly the toning and patina remain undamaged.

 

On the other hand dipping a coin in an acid type substance and removing the toning that took years to create, in my opinon changes the coin.

 

Just my two cents worth.

Ron

 

 

Do you really think a coin that has been buried in the ground and has the dirt and ecrustations of almost 2000 years on it can be compared to one that is say 120 yrs old and has toning on it ?

 

By the way, olive oil is an acid type substance. That's why it works.

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Do you really think a coin that has been buried in the ground and has the dirt and ecrustations of almost 2000 years on it can be compared to one that is say 120 yrs old and has toning on it ?

 

By the way, olive oil is an acid type substance. That's why it works.

 

My point was that in the case of ancients cleaning and restoration is acceptable. But to dip a 120 year old coin in an acid bath to make it look shiny and new isn't.

Ron

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Wow, seems like I created a fire strom here...

 

sorry about revisiting a topic that occurs every month or so and should be a perm. post, but new people to this site have no way of knowing what has gone on in time past..

 

what started this was I have a complete Ike dollar set including proofs that has one coin with an ugly thumb print right on Ike's face..it deracts from the entire album. since body oil is detriment to the coin, if left it will appear worse and worse (darker and darker)...if dipped it will make the others look "off" and would have to dip the whole set (which I am against)..solutions

 

1) buy a new coin to replace the one with the smudge to enhance the set....

 

2) dip the one and let it out shine the others...

 

I am going to go with number 1 but then I have an Ike MS coin wiht a smugdy thumb print on the face to sell....or dip it and sell it with a disclaimer. I read the term "over dipped" a lot in the above thread...it seems to me that any dipping is removing some metal from the coin however minute, then when it re-oxidizes and is redipped the same occurs and I can see where over time it would be very detrimental. But it appears to me that a coin that is dipped once in its life to remove a thumbprint is not "overdipping" and would be more in the line of conservation discussed above.

 

question..I dipped a coin in 1964 since then it has re-oxidized and looks beautiful...can PGS tell it was dipped in 1964 if that is the only time it was dipped? If the answer is "no" then I am sure that there are many dipped coins in collections passing themselvesl as not dipped..they are accepted and cherished as the speicman they are. just my thoughts. basic bob

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Coin Cleaning is a 1 word answer.......NO.

I have always been told never clean a coin and yet how many

of us use gloves.

 

I have read it is OK to wash Copper and Bronze coins

in warm water only to remove any foreign material.

 

I am a collector not a seller, so I leave well alone.

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My point was that in the case of ancients cleaning and restoration is acceptable.

 

 

I realize that, and I agree 100%.

 

 

 

But to dip a 120 year old coin in an acid bath to make it look shiny and new isn't.

Ron

 

 

OK , but as I said - "the vast majority of collectors, dealers, professional graders, professional numismatist, noted authors and just about every coin expert you can think of" - it is acceptable.

 

So who's right - the majority or the minority ? BTW, that's a rhetorical question.

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