Login

iccoins's Blog

05 Dec 2018

How To Destroy Your Collection

Coins | iccoins

This is not a phrase people want to hear about their coin collection, but unfortunately, this happens every day to collectors who don’t know what to do, but mostly, don’t know what not to do. Some of these mistakes, surprisingly, are also done by professional collectors and dealers. 

Never Touch Your Coins 

Just something as simple as handling a coin can be costly. Of course, if you coin roll hunt and collect circulated wheat cents, for example, you are going to do no real harm by touching the coins. However, if you collect rare coins and mint state or proof coins, just touching the coin can damage it...and damaged coins cannot be repaired. Your hands contain oil and dirt, even if you just washed them. That oil and dirt will then touch the surface of the coin, causing small hairline scratches and may cause discoloration and unattractive toning over time. When handling your coins, always hold them by the edges. There is a debate as to whether or not gloves should be used when handling coins. Some collectors believe that you should always wear gloves, while others suggest that you should handle them by the edges with clean hands. That way, it is not as easy to accidentally drop your coin, which is generally much worse than touching them. Also, cotton gloves will cause small hairline scratches, which is not something you want. Personally, I wear cotton gloves and only handle the coins from the sides while holding them above a soft cloth to prevent damage if accidentally dropped. 

Never Clean Your Coins 

If you’re into uncleaned ancient coins, this does not apply, but for most collectors, you should never clean your coins. Cleaning coins will not only decrease value, but also cause many fine scratches and strip away the original mint luster. Some people choose to use strong acids or even ketchup, both of which are bad ideas. If you think it makes the coin look better, it actually does, but only to the untrained eye. All experienced collectors will be able to see immediately that the coin has been cleaned. The scratches are a giveaway and the luster is another dead giveaway. Mint luster is generally seen in a “cartwheel” effect. Cleaning coins will alter this and the light will not reflect off the coin properly. Even many beginning collectors will notice that something is not quite right. If sent to a professional grading service, cleaned coins will not be graded and will be given either “Details” or “Genuine” status, only verifying its authenticity. There are some “coin cleaners,” but I would never recommend using them.   

Never “Doctor” Your Coins 

Coin doctoring is a form of altering a coin to make it appear more valuable. That could be by adding a mintmark, removing a mintmark, changing the date, making the coin look mint state when it’s not, etc. Coin doctoring is a deep field that I am happy to get more in-depth with, if my readers would like that. Essentially, though, it is altering the coin in a way to make it “appear” better. When buying coins, you do have to be aware of coin doctoring, because many are even able to get past the best coin grading services. Some of it has to do with removing spots, changing toning, altering the surface, and many even add putty to a coin to make it look different. Many coin doctors are really bad, but unfortunately, a lot are pretty good. If you see any claims about this or people saying they will make your coins “better,” run away. 

Comments

Kepi

Level 6

All great advise! I personally don't wear gloves. I don't touch the surface of my coins and handle them by the edge. Gloves just don't feel right.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks! Some people wear gloves, others don't. As long as you take care of your coins, that's what matters :)

Yeah, it is better to not wear gloves, but to wash hands thoroughly. Great blog, thanks

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :)

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

It's all good advice. I'm not big on gloves but I don't collect many mint state or proof coins.

iccoins

Level 4

And that's totally okay! As long as you are careful and protect your coins (which I am sure you do), you're fine.

"SUN"

Level 5

Good advice.

iccoins

Level 4

Thank you!

CoinLady

Level 6

This was a very informative blog, a topic not heard much. Good points. Lots to take away. Thanks

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks :)

Longstrider

Level 6

Great informative blog. It needs to be said from time to time. As Mokiechan stated, in the past, most coins were cleaned. It is generally accepted by the TPG and ignored, I am told. At a class I took a few years ago, the instructrer got a "coin doctor"on the phone. We were allowed to ask him question through the teacher. He feels he is a conservator. He does know I'll call them 'evil" bad guys that do it to gig us. He has and is proud that he personally has had his work passed, graded and slabbed by TPG. They are that good. Thanks for the blog..

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks! That's super cool. I heard a similar story regarding counterfeiters in China who think they are doing nothing wrong but giving coins people want cheaper.

Numinerd9

Level 5

FYI - When you submit a coin to a grading company, they do NOT wear gloves, which there's really no problem with, as long as they have clean hands and handle them properly. I agree that cleaning coins is usually a problem and most people have no clue what they're doing when it comes to that topic. Conservation on the other hand is an entirely different story. Remember, it's ALL of our jobs to properly preserve these artifacts for generations to come - you can't take 'em with you, so treat them with their due respect! This means NOT fooling around with a coin if you do not have the requisite training or experience in proper conservation methods. I really wish King Farouk had learned that lesson - just because you're filthy stinkin' rich and can afford any coin in the world, doesn't mean you know what you're doing when it comes down to conservation methods. -Sam Gelberd, ANA Numismatic Educator

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks for the comment! I've heard so many complaints about the grading companies not wearing gloves, but I have no problem with it either. I trust that they don't lather their hands with lotion and scrub on the surfaces of the coins.

Mokie

Level 6

Interesting how in the collecting world of 100 years ago, cleaning was a common practice and in many cases, valuable coins were coin on several occasions. Even when I started collecting in the 60's, dealers were still selling any number of concoctions to clean coins. I think dipping is still a common practice with many dealers. It would be difficult to find an older coin with completely original surfaces. Thanks IC, excellent food for thought.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks! I don't remember where I heard it, but some professional in EAC said that he expects that almost all half cents and large cents in slabs are cleaned and doctored and even a greater amount raw. It's a shame, but in some ways, that can add to the history if it happened many, many years ago. I would still always prefer an original coin.

Mike

Level 7

Dealers do show people do it to get more money. Always look for finger prints I think we all have a good idea of what goes on. In twenty five years I was stuck with four cleaned coins. A well known company don't believe in slabs but there are in every magazine says he mint. I should of known so I went them to NGC they all came back cleaned. They said they won't take the return so I said fine I will return three keep one so I never forget you and my lawyer read your statement he will be returning the other three. I received my money back in six days. They think sending know our rights as so have them as I proved. No disclaimer is full proof they always forget this or that. Thanks I'm sure your blog will help A lot of people. By the way those were the only four I ever got . I never received another. Thanks mike.

iccoins

Level 4

Thanks! Too many people think that they can make more money and make the coin shinier if they clean it, which is just wrong.

We use cookies to provide users the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your cookie settings, we'll assume that you agree to receive all cookies on money.org. You may disable cookies at any time using your internet browser configuration. By continuing to use this website, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use. To learn more about how we use cookies and to review our privacy policy, click here.