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This post contains images of coin mutilation and may not be suitable for all viewers

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A while ago I posted about a Buffalo nickel hoard that fell into my lap. At least half of them were very worn with no dates showing at all - no doubt a testimony to their extensive service. Well, I decided to do a little experiment with chemically restoring dates. First of all, I am well aware that a 'restored date' Buffalo nickel is not going to compete at all in value with a 'real' date. Not saying that they have no value, just that I have no misconceptions about the issue. With that in mind, I thought that some might find this little photo essay entertaining.


The "date restorer" that I used is actually ferric chloride. It is probably more accurate to say that the coins now have an etched date rather than a restored date.


You start with a well worn, very low grade, dateless nickel, like this one:



I remember using ferric chloride to etch home brew circuit boards a long time ago. Using a circuit board with a thin layer of copper on the surface, you would draw the circuit traces using a marking pen and then dump the board in a ferric chloride solution. The solution would eat away the copper everywhere but your ink lines and you were left with the circuit traces. Based on that experience, I inked the area around the date to restrict the etching solution. Then, I placed a drop of the solution on the date area and *poof* a date!



A quick water wash and an acetone bath to remove the ink, and you have yourself a genuine etched-date Buffalo nickel.


Sometimes the dates come out very strong, like this 1916:



But other times they are only a ghost like this 1918:



I did most of the mint-marked no dates that I had and I was both amazed and frustrated to find...this one:


..and yeah that is a 'D'



and this one:



For those that do not know, the 1914D and 1921S are both legitimate semi-keys that Redbook at about $70 in Good - frustrating eh?


Well, after a while, the whole process gets a little boring...maybe I will try my hand at making a hobo nickel, or a belt buckel or something...

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great post.


Your inking made the restored date coins better than any I've seen.


I would take those as fillers anytime.


Yup, what Doc said! :ninja:

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A note on treating Buf Nics. Always look at the back first. If its a 1913 type 1... you will know without doing anything! Im amazed at how many "restored" type 1s I see.


And thanks for the photo essay syzygy! Really awesome... Post of the week style :ninja:



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Very Cool, Thanks for sharing I've got a bunch of Buffs that I would love to try that on.

As has been stated your method is the best I've seen :ninja:


Apologies for going off subject, but that is a great pic of a buffalo chasing a Griz.

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That is really cool.  How long did you keep the solution on there for?  Is there anything that would work on gold coins?  I have a 2 1/2 dollar gold coin that I found metal detecting, worn date its the indian one.



Seemed like the date would show up best if it showed up within about 1 min - as soon as it showed up I would wash it off.


Don't know about gold - I would not want to try that with gold, if I had any. Also, I don't know if an incuse date would work in any case.

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I bought some nic-a-date yesterday and put a whole no-date into some that I put in a small glass bowl. It turned out to be a 1914-D...the detail really came out and other than the obvious large scratch on the obverse, it would be a dandy coin if it had this much original detail.





...no extra charge for the hair across the obverse photo. :ninja: Sorry...

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...no extra charge for the hair across the obverse photo. ;) Sorry...


You'd think the nic-a-date would have removed that hair. :ninja:


Geeze, how many dateless or formerly dateless 1914-D Buffs are out there, anyway? I bet half the surviving mintage are either still dateless or have been nic-a-dated! I see them all the time and we have 2 found here back to back.


Truthfully, nic-a-date doesn't bother me that much. Sure, it is damage and commands a discount over a non-treated coin but the coin is still what it is and it can still fill a hole in the case of a key date.

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Since when did nickels sell for scrap?


A guy at the show I went to had a big bucket of nickels for (I believe) $0.10. I'd consider that dirt cheap and basically scrap prices. Almost all were dateless, the ones with dates looked like someone was practicing their carving skills on them. One even had a rather large hole drilled right through the middle.


Yeah I said bullion but meant scrap, sorry, long night ;) You can hit me for that one.

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