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B. Featured Article: “Make that Old Coin Shiny
Again! – No WAIT!”
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B. Make that Old Coin Shiny Again! – No WAIT!
The new widow brought the heavy box of coins into the
coin shop. She told the owner that her husband had
recently died and she wanted to sell the coins. She
proudly announced that she had made them all real shiny
so they would be worth more.
She did not really notice the look of horror on the
face of the coin dealer. He looked through the box of
coins that had been worth thousands. He kindly
explained to the widow that the coins were now worth
about half of what they were before she had cleaned
To the non-coin collector, a bright shiny coin can be a
beautiful thing to see. And, indeed to the avid
collector it can too – as long as that is the natural
state of the coin. The problem is that one of the
primary determinants in the value of the coin is its
condition. You might think the condition is determined
by how shiny it is. However, that would be a grave
error. The condition is determined by the details still
visible with a magnifying glass or microscope.
Unfortunately, those details are many times completely
removed in the process of cleaning a coin with polish
or chemical dipping. Those processes ‘clean’ by
removing the outer layer of metal.
There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is if
a modern rare coin is actually dirty, not just
tarnished. In that case, take the coin to a dealer and
ask his opinion on the value of the coin and if it
could be significantly enhanced by professional
cleaning. A professional will be able to clean the coin
without any significant alteration.
The second exception is with ancient copper coins. You
may have seen these coins for sale on ebay or another
online auction or coin dealer. They often show crusty,
somewhat ugly coins that may sell for about a dollar
each. These coins can be fun to get and actually much
improved by cleaning methods you have at home.
The best way to clean those ancient coins is with olive
oil. Yep, you heard right! Get a small jar or plastic
airtight container. Put the coin(s) in and let them
soak. The oil will dissolve all that crud on the
outside. Then, several times a year take the coins out
and gently rub them between your thumb and finger.
It may take as much as two years to get the coin into
its best condition. However, it is quite exciting to
see the change from the crusty mess to a finely
detailed or worn coin.
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