Identifying cleaned coins
About 10 years ago, I rediscovered my childhood hobby of coin collecting. áI started by working to complete my set of Lincoln cents as I expanded my focus to Indian Head cents, Buffalo and Liberty nickels. áNow I work on most denominations passively as the budget permits.
As I continue to get educated on numismatics, I occasionally revisit and examine my coins. áAs I've done this, I have found a few coins that I can now clearly identify as being cleaned. áWhile in hindsight, I am disappointed that I missed some obvious things, I'm pleased that none of them were very expensive and can be fairly easily replaced. áChalk it up to the cost of education, I guess.
I've gotten to the point that I routinely look for hairline scratches, or streaking to identify altered surfaces. áI am not, however as aware of indications of dipping or other potential things to look for to try to minimize future mistakes.
While I am fortunate to be in some coin clubs with some very knowledgeable people, I'm appreciative of any input, or suggestions from the ANA community on the topic.
Use a good incandescent light source and the right magnification. A 7x lens is ideal for grading and checking for surface imperfections; anything higher power and you may start "micro-grading" your coins too much (and think a tiny hit looks like the Grand Canyon!)Anything less than 7x and you'll wind up missing seeing any problems. And don't forget to tilt your coins (a lot!!) under that incandescent light. Check for that true, original 'cartwheel' luster on coins - You can't fake the funk! (That is to say. this mint luster can't be re-created by any process other than actual striking of a coin.)