Category Archives: Cleaning & Storage

All Collectors Are Stupid: Or So you Are Continually Being Told

This is a continuation of the current series.

It would seem that part of the sport in collecting in the great sub continent is to be continually told that you are stupid and you are merely the prey of unscrupulous dealers (of all sizes) and you must be absolutely certain that you will be ripped off.

What is worse, at least in opinion of many people, is that fact that no one seems to do anything about countering this continuing insulting and counter educational  rubbish. In almost any transaction people who are uneducated in a subject will be subjected to sharp practice. If you wish to spend money on anything collectible (or for that matter most things) you need to be educated at least to some extent. With coins simple education is comparatively easy these days. There are almost unlimited resources on the internet.

Join a coin club and get to know members and experts. There are many, many experts who are pleased to help.

When you buy a coin as a novice stick to known dealers. Do your basic research. Check the photographs  closely. If can can find a dealer that you can inspect the coin in hand this is better of course. This is easy in the big cities. Learn from your research.

Recently there has been a lot of what can only be described as loose talk about the so called deception of “incomplete” coin descriptions. Allegations are made that coins that may have been jewellery mounted are not adequately described (this can include filling a hole also). Okay then look at it as a negotiating point. If there is a disagreement then it is YOUR choice whether to buy or not. No one FORCES you to buy just as no one FORCES you to learn the basic fundamentals. (These notes at present are for those who buy “used” coins). In the east there is a much greater prevalence of using coins as jewellery than in the west (or so it appears) and for a most such coins it does diminish value but the rarer the coin the less it diminishes the value. So if you want that coin you make the decision based your knowledge.

We try as much as we like but some people will not listen. It appears that it is these same people who run to social media and write long heart sobbing stories about alleged rip offs etc etc and they seem to be further supported by certain groups that appear to be nothing more than fear mongering for the sake of who knows what!

People who refuse to even take fundamental preliminary steps in understanding what they are collecting are the core problem within collecting. People who decide the only way to educate people is to post vicious and defamatory allegations and hints against many sellers are not assisting in either the hobby, the investment or in core education.

This Blog has a number of items from true world authorities on things from correct storage to bronze disease treatment etc.

The incitement of fear does nothing for numismatics. Recently a small group decided to take to task an American auction/selling house (and a darn good one) for several comments it had made in a recent catalogue. In fact I was emailed by a number of people decrying another entry. In every case the people deciding to be totally negative forgot the fundamental basics of how to handle such problems (see previous Blogs).

So if you wish to be stupid then be stupid, just don’t include the 99% of people who at least do some study, make great connections and who continue to enjoy collecting.

If you wish to attack this great pursuit by treating everyone as being stupid with repeated hints and allegations about things 99% of people know and understand find something else like philately to pursue, oh wait the same applies there. I will collect rare porcelain, or wait it happens there. I know I will buy old cars, oh wait it happens there.

Life experience is just that. It is just that many people successfully avoid negative life experiences by a little learning.

Now it is simple, if you wish to be stupid it might be wise to keep it to yourself because the shysters in any business will learn you are stupid and you will be targeted.

If you wish to educate people then do it in a positive way.

If you wish to glorify stupidity by making it your aim in life to highlight the 1 percenters in life by disparaging the other 99% and a whole hobby in doing it then perhaps administrators of some sites should get a few guts and start deleting this rubbish and the innuendos. It won’t happen because it is a planned destructive course of events.

As a collector you have a choice educate yourself or become a stooge for the rabble rousers. 99% percent of us are sick of the rubbish and wish to educate positively.



The Number Game (Part 3): Toning

Yes Part 2 is missing. I am waiting for a new book by Gev Kias on British India coins to arrive so that my research is complete for this part.

However on to toning. Toning, especially on silver, can occur naturally for many reasons. Silver and Sterling silver in particular, tones naturally over time. It goes a blackish colour. This toning has no real effect on strike. Coins tone for other reasons and these are broadly based in the atmosphere in which they are stored. For example coins stored in certain types of wooden cabinets may develop what is called “cabinet toning”

There is a downside and that is that coins can be artificially toned by certain methods. I have never thought this as being a big deal because toning really doesn’t affect the strike and grading is all about strike, is it? What is can effect is the price and some people go a little crazy. So if we look at high end graded coins one would think in a reasonably informed marketplace, and wouldn’t you really want to be informed if you are in this market, doubts began to spring up on ALL toned coins.

Now just to regress a little if you believe that those old silver coins that are graded and look so bright and shine so magnificently are actually natural then you are mistaken. These coins have been a nothing more than artificially toned. But this toning, by acetone or similar, is regarded as okay by the industry. They make the coins shine of course. And it also seems to be okay to remove plastic container damage. In recent times many mints are offering specially struck “coins” in sparkling pure silver. However there are, at times, a problem with these. They get “dull” spots on them. Should not really effect the strike grading . But wait the grading houses for a fee will try to fix that for you. Just a little more restoration work.

Back to the main issue, toning. Wow believe it or not since the internet came along and everyone can become an instant celebrity by commenting on anything and everything numismatic there is now a service that can hopefully remove the toning, artificial or otherwise and the coin can be graded as untoned. but wait a minute, isn’t removing the toning actually re-toning.  Well these questions are way too difficult for us mere mortals. As long as there is a buck in it for these companies they will lead the market in that direction.

So toning is now not becoming accepted in grading. Everyone now queries any toned coin so the market shifts and it shifts for no particular reason. Once grading was all about the strike, now it is about the strike and making the coin look as close to the day it was struck. Hmmmm most of those coins never looked that good on the day they were struck anyway.

However we have safety in a number, a grading number. And what reflects in grading reflects in the whole marketplace. Broadly good old toning is becoming unacceptable because it might be fake but artificial toning be acceptable means is great (and you can charge for it). Even manipulating the surface of a coin to remove certain damage is now acceptable.

Strange world we live in. For me I like toned silver coins and I intensely dislike all of the new ‘experts” who have never seen a cabinet toned coin in their lives but jump on the band wagon and condemn them while running off to get their coins slabbed, oops sorry graded, and part of that process can be the adding of a nice artificial toning to “enhance” the appearance of the coin.


After Bronze Disease Treatment: Coin Storage

The effects of Bronze Disease have been discussed and much earlier in the blog we had an article on correct coin storage.

Correct coin storage should always be at the forefront of any collectors thoughts. We now understand that PVC, for example,  has a negative effect on coins when it comes into contact with them. From this specific types of plastic have been developed and tested for the safe storage of coins of all metal . Museum quality paper can also be used to store coins.

So part of the Bronze Disease study will include the storage of the coins. For this purpose the best available products in the world have been selected. There will be no compromise as to price or quality.  Frankly if you can afford to collect coins you can afford to store them in the best products available.

After all we are just custodians of them for the next generation of collectors. With correct care and attention we can perhaps pass our prized collection onto the next generation in better condition than when we purchased it.

“Bronze Disease Destroys a Coin!” REALLY!

In a recent exchange on the topic it has been quoted that Bronze Disease “destroys a coin”.  When someone with some coin knowledge makes that statement it deserves to be looked into.

In essence if you are a collector of high-end coins and one develops bronze disease then yes the value will be dramatically decreased. Most of these high-end coins being discussed are machine-made and the work we are looking at is in hand struck or cast coins made before the age of machine-made coins in general. These coins are rarely in top grade and often it is an accomplishment to correctly attribute them (try working on a few rare Mughal coppers and you will see). Yes Bronze Disease will, in time, destroy a coin but if controlled correctly the damage will be limited to that caused before treatment was started and for most of us that is the important thing.

However in the general discussion there were illustrations on how to remove the outward appearance of early formation Bronze Disease. This disguises the problem for a short time, it certainly does not fix the problem and the problem sits waiting to reappear at the first opportunity. As an old collector friend often says that if he had a dollar for every copper (based) coin he has bought that has magically developed Bronze Disease within two years of purchase he would be a wealthy man today.

So instructions are being given on how to hide the problem so that the coin can be passed on at maximum dollars to the seller. Buyer Beware!

The Coin Preservation Project

We have written a number of times about the need to store coins correctly and to treat any coins showing signs of attack quickly and effectively. We note this especially in copper and copper based coins that can suffer from a problem called Bronze Disease.

Despite many, many discussions people without any knowledge or experience express opinions on how to fix the problems without any scientific basis to their opinions. In fact many of the suggestions will accelerate the problems rather than cure them. It is a part of human nature to look at alternatives and pick what appears to be the quickest solution.

Your collection is in your hands but many collections have great coins in them and as research continues to expand our knowledge those coins just might be a link in a chain that is needed to prove or disprove a theory. So within collecting we need to store our coins correctly.

The first rule is that no coins should be stored in anything PVC. I looked with some horror last night at pictures of a wonderful large collection. however many of them were housed in simple and cheap PVC bags. The reaction on the copper coins was evident. DO NOT STORE IN PVC.

There were also coins viewed last night showing Bronze Disease. At this time there is only one known correct cure for the problem. removing it by other means is only an apparent cure. It will start again at some time and although by appearance it is not active on the surface in many types of coins it may still be working on the interior of the coin. The coin will ultimately be destroyed. With so much to be discovered about copper coins especially in India all coins should be preserved.

It is also noticed that on social media there is always someone who decides to challenge your thoughts and the thoughts of the world’s experts in this area. Everyone then becomes an expert, at least in their own mind, and even the best advice becomes lost in a mire of personal views.

So we start a major project on coin preservation. The project will be controlled in India by Swapnil Bagul from Mumbai. Swapnil is a new collector who comes without previous prejudice. With the help of various world experts we have produced a working plan. Swapnil will be using coins donated by a major collector from the west coast of India.

We have also had an expression of interest from another collector who has a great copper collection that is suffering problems. I am hoping we can coordinate through Swapnil a larger project than first envisaged.

The project will be fully reported on at each stage with full reports and pictures available each quarter for view and review. This is a major project for world collectors. Please join in and watch the progress. At least we demonstrate what we are suggesting, perhaps that is a little ahead of posting old wives tales and abusing those who consult with the world’s best in trying to educate collectors.

Introduction to Copper (Bronze) Disease Update

During a recent trip to India I saw many copper coins suffering from this problem. This is the second and updated article of our Blog series on this problem. At this time specific experiments are being conducted on the rate of spread of this problem under specific circumstances. It must be understood that the problem eats away at the very copper within the coin itself and as such it will rapidly deface the coin and, in time, destroy it. Copper coins, over time, may also develop a patina that is actually protective of the coin and in many collecting areas actually adds value to a coin. Copper Disease is easily spotted (see pictures in the article) and must be treated immediately it is found.

Over the past 100 years there have been many papers written on this problem by various museums for example. Many methods have been tested and most have failed over time. The methods for the protection of coins given by Kevin are the current accepted way of treating the problem. Like many problems there are many apparent solutions or old ideas are recirculated without adequate research as to why they are no longer used.

Note that electrolysis does not cure (for want of a better word) copper disease. A coin so treated may appear to have been cured but it will return. Vigilance is the only sure method of controlling the problem and even treated coins should be examined from time to time. In warm/hot humid climates especially coins should be examined every three to six months. Any that are showing signs of the problem should be removed and treated immediately and the coin holder that it was stored in should be destroyed. If the coin was loose and stored with other copper based coins then all the coins should be treated.

Museums and major institutional collections must as a matter of course inspect all coins on a regular and programmed basis even if collections are held in temperature steady low humidity conditions.

I have personally witnessed the destruction of rare copper coins by this problem. Please don’t let it happen in your collection. I would hate to see some of the rare, beautiful and sometimes exquisite copper coins seen in my recent India tour being destroyed due to lack of proper vigilance.

Inspect your coins now and program it for known times. Besides looking at your collection, no matter how big or small, can bring back great memories and as personal knowledge advances further or improved attributions may be able to be given to coins within the collection.

Bronze Disease, it should be Copper Disease. Its Cause, Diagnosis and Cure


Bruce K. Nesset

Bronze Disease is a misnomer that has been used by the Numismatic community for many years, and was probably started by them, to describe the damage of bronze or copper based metals. To be specific, it is a pale green, almost cyan color, fuzzy crystalline growth that seems to appear overnight on some ancient coins, and other ancient bronze artifacts. I discuss bronze and not brass, although brass is also susceptible to the problem. Brass was not used as much in the ancient world, as a good source of Zinc [Zn] was not easily available, whereas Tin [Sn] was widely traded in the ancient world.


The Wrong Name, but the Right Problem.

It really should be called “Copper  Disease”, as it is chemical attack on the copper or copper-based  alloys. It is not the bronze nor the brass itself that is being attacked, but the copper.

What Happens and To An Extent Why.

Copper in moist air slowly acquires a dull green coating, called Verdigris, because its top layer has oxidizes with the air. Some architects use this material on rooftops for this interesting color. The simple chemistry is as follows:

The green material is a 1:1 mole mixture of Cu(OH)2 and CuCO3.

2 Cu(s) + H2O + CO2 + O2 → Cu(OH)2 + CuCO3(s)

Malachite is (Cu2(OH)2CO3). Copper II can be generated by treatment of the hydroxide, oxide, or copper(II) carbonate with hydrochloric acid. In many cases it is the simple formation of Hydrochloric acid from Sodium chloride [NaCl] and water [H2O].
NaCl + H2O → NaOH + HCl

2NaOH + 2HCl + CuCO3(s) = NaCO3  + CuCl2  + 2H2O

Why is it so hard to detect?

Anhydrous Copper II Chloride may appear in color from a dark brown to the cyan green, depend on the amount of atmospheric moisture that is absorbed. If it was in a desert region with very low relative humidity and dry air, it may never be seen. In moist or very humid areas, it changes color rapidly and starts to work on the solid copper.


Cures, Once it is found or as a preemptive cure.

One of the biggest problems is that simple copper oxidation products are not easily dissolved in water. Add this to the fact that you want to dissolve and remove all of the copper chloride and any salts that may be embedded in or on the coin. There is a simple solution, no pun intended, to this. A soak in a 50/50 % mix of vinegar [I would recommend white distilled, it is easier to see the color] and distilled water, warmed to approximately 55 deg C], for a short period of time, about 10 minutes. After the soak, give the coin a scrub with a nylon brush, such as a denture tooth brush. These are stiff without being abrasive. Do not over soak in the Vinegar [acetic acid].  Commercial vinegar is about 4% acetic acid. In general acids and copper don’t get along. While acids won’t dissolve copper, the copper will turn an ugly shade of pink. You want to get rid of the green, then it is safe to leave the coin, or polish it.
After the vinegar scrubs, I would recommend a soak in equal mix of Sodium Bi-carbonate [Baking soda] and Sodium Carbonate [washing soda]. Mix this with distilled water, the actual dilution doesn’t matter, but is use 17 grams of mix to 500 ml of water. Let the coin soak for 24 hours. It may darken, that is copper carbonate, and can be removed easily, if you wish to polish the coins.

Polish or Not to Polish, there-in lies the rub.

To polish or not is a personal preference. In the West, it is generally “don’t polish”, and in the East more likely “Polish”. For those who want to polish, here are some suggestions.
Start with a battery powered rotary tool and a mixture of baking soda and liquid soap. Use a nylon cup brush, with the mixture thick enough to stay on the brush. The main reason for the battery powered [you can do this by hand, but it is very tiring and your fingers get a real workout] tool is the relatively low speed and torque. An AC powered unit spins at a much higher RPM and a lot of torque. From real experience, trying to find a 6 mm coin that has been tossed across the room is no fun, and not good for the coin or your mood.

 Tools & chemicals:

1) Nylon brush, tooth or denture brush are very good, and inexpensive.
2) Rotary tool, like a battery powered Dremel. Battery powered is preferred over AC power. The battery units run slower with less torque, much easier to control.
3) Bamboo skewers. They can be sharpened for re-use. If heated in a flame, they become very hard, but are far softer that the metal of the coins.
4) Soft cotton cloth.
5) Baking soda [Sodium Bi-Carbonate]. Good when mixed into a paste with liquid soap to make a surface cleaner/ polish.
6) Lighted magnifier for detailed work.
There are many other tools and chemicals, remember, each coin is unique and cleaning each one is a little different. Take your time and work slowly, once you do something, it may not be reversible.

A Collectors Guide to Storing Coins Properly

A Collectors Guide to Storing Coins Properly    By Bernard A. Nagengast *

Collector coins can be adversely affected by the way a collector stores them. This essay will discuss proper methods of storage to decrease the possibility of damage. Materials as well as the overall storage environment will be covered.

Usual Methods of Storage

Most collectors store coins in each holder or albums made of paper, cardboard or plastic. The question is – what materials are safe to use? These storage materials are discussed below in no particular order:

Paper holders, usually envelopes, should be made from acid-free stock. Many envelopes being produced now are made of acid free paper as manufacturers adopt green technology. Paper that is not acid free contains sulfur which can not only cause the paper to yellow with age, but also can cause toning (tarnishing) of coinage metals. If one has to use acidic envelopes, the potential damage can be reduced by inserting the coin into a protective wrap first. The protective wrap can be a safe plastic (discussed below) or the coin can be wrapped in aluminum foil. If aluminum foil is used be sure that the coin is not stored in a high humidity environment (the foil can deteriorate in the presence of high humidity).

Cardboard holders are usually square, fold-together assemblies with plastic windows that are stapled shut or come with a self-adhesive feature. This type of holder can cause damage to coins over time due to the presence of tiny cardboard particles clinging to the plastic window. When a coin is placed in the holder, the particles can transfer to the coin surfaces. Over time, the cardboard particles may react with the coin surface, particularly if copper is present in the coin alloy. The result is spotting of the coin. This reaction is enhanced at higher humidity levels. One modern innovation is “Intercept Shield” TM technology. A chemical layer is incorporated in cardboard holders and albums that, in effect, reacts with oxidants before they reach the coin.

Safe plastic holders vary from envelopes and pouches to large holders holding multiple coins. The concern is that the plastic itself is safe to use and won’t react with coins. Most plastic holders on the market are made of polymethylmethacrylate (also known as acrylic and by the trademarks Lucite of Plexiglas), polyethylene, polystyrene (also known as styrene), polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (also known as polyester, PET, PETG and as the trademarks Mylar and Melinex), cellulose diacetate and cellulose triacetate All of the aforementioned plastics have been used for coin storage for many years and have proven safe for use with coins. One other safe plastic, not often seen in coin holders, is polycarbonate (also known as the trademark Lexan).

Dangerous plastic holders are made of polyvinylchloride (also known as vinyl and PVC). PVC coin holders have been made since the 1960’s and are commonplace, even being used by some government mints. Pure PVC is rigid and must be adulterated with chemicals to make it flexible. Depending on the amount of softener present, the PVC may be stiff to very flexible. The more softener present, the less likely the possibility of the coin holder cracking. PVC plastic is unstable and will break down and release hydrogen chloride (HCL) over time. The HCL can cause clouding or pitting of coinage metals, particularly coins with mirror surfaces. PVC manufacturers do add stabilizers to the PVC to slow down the deterioration, however this only retards, but does not stop the degradation. The more flexible types of PVC have the problem of the softeners bleeding out of the PVC. When these chemicals transfer to the coins stored in the holders they will not only make the coins sticky, but also will react with some coinage metals and ultimately corrode the coin. If the coin metal has copper, the first sign of this is the presence of a sticky, greenish residue on the coin. (In numismatics this residue has come to be known as “green slime.”) For the reasons mentioned, no museum will use any form of PVC – the fact is that there is no safe vinyl. The most common PVC coin holders are many kinds of coin flips, pocket pages and coin wallets. There is a simple test a collector can use to test a coin holder for PVC. Take a bare copper wire, heat it in a gas flame until red hot, touch the hot wire to the plastic and put the wire back into the gas flame. If you see a burst of green off the wire, the plastic has a chloride compound and is probably PVC. (note: it is not necessary to melt a lot of plastic on the wire – just a touch will do.) If a coin has been stored in a soft PVC holder and has a sticky residue, the residue should be washed off the coin using a non-reactive solvent such as alcohol.

Many traditional numismatist stored their collections in wooden cabinets. These cabinets had trays, usually cloth lined, on which the coins were displayed. If this method is to be used, be sure that the cabinet is made of a wood that will not off-gas components that will affect the coins. Also, care must be taken that the liner material will not react with the coin. Generally, unless you know the cabinet will be safe for coins, avoid wood cabinets or tray. If you must use them, a layer of protection can be added by placing the coins in protective capsules first. If coins are placed directly on a tray with no protection, they will be unnecessarily exposed to the atmosphere as well as the tray and liner underneath.

Proper Storage Environment

Although coins may be stored in safe holders, the environment surrounding the collection can, and probably will, affect the long term condition of the coins. Generally, collectors should strive for an environment that they are comfortable living in. That means avoiding temperature and humidity extremes. Like humans, metals react negatively as temperatures and humidity increase. Normal room temperature and mid to low relative humidity is best for coins. The environment surrounding the coins stored can be artificially altered, if necessary, to decrease the possibility of long term problems. Two approaches are commonly used: humidity control and corrosion control. If high humidity in the storage environment is unavoidable, a micro-environment can be created by storing the coins in an airtight box, cabinet or safe and using a desiccant (a moisture absorber) in the storage area to cut the relative humidity. Packets or bags of these materials can be purchased. A more modern, more advanced way to make sure a good coin storage environment is to use a vapor corrosion inhibitor. This works by depositing an invisible barrier on the coin’s surface. A capsule containing the corrosion inhibitor is placed in the storage area and the inhibitor vapor spreads through the storage area, seeking any metal surfaces. The barrier resists airborne oxidant attack on the coin, thus retarding toning or corrosion. These chemicals work no matter what the relative humidity is, thus use of a desiccant is not necessary. Some types protect all coinage metals. There is no coating on the coin, and the vapor barrier disappears when the coin is removed from the storage area, leaving no residue. Vapor corrosion inhibitors will penetrate coin holders and protect the coin inside. One corrosion inhibitor is marketed specifically for use with coins under the trade-name MetalSafe.

The information provided above is intended to be an overview and general guide for coin storage. Comprehensive and specialized information is available in libraries and through on-line searches.

*Bernard A. Nagengast is a recognized expert is archival coin storage and is owner of E&T Kointainer Company, a marketer of archival coin storage products. (


The First Step in Coin Protection

The first step in coin protection is, of course, to inspect your coins to ensure that they are in a suitable for storage. This will be part of another exercise. However the second step is that coins should be housed correctly and that goes for all coins in a collection. I am continually surprised at how people complain about the cost of proper storage and yet spend comparatively vast sums on the coins themselves. I would like to introduce you to an American company called E&T Kointainer Company. This company was the first in the world to solve the problem of PVC disease on coins. They introduced a product called the SAFLIP. They have a full range of coin holders and not just in safe plastic. They also have acid free paper containers which I favoured as a collector. There internet site is at Click on he “Stock List” tab to see the full range of products.

Note: No one on the blog has a commercial arrangement with this company. Arthur Needham has used the products for many years without problems. This is the first part of a series on coin cleaning and storage.

What Happens When You Use the Wrong Plastic?

Most of the double pocket coin flips sold today is made of vinyl, the common name of polyvinyl chloride.  These PVC flips are available in a soft or hard version, and both types are dangerous for storing coins.

The chemicals that can bleed out of the vinyl, and the hydrogen chloride gas that the vinyl emits, are corrosive to coins, causing sticky green slime, cloudy appearance, and microscopic pitting of the coin’s surfaces. This is why museums don’t use vinyl of any kind, because museums know that there is no such thing as safe vinyl.
The SAFLIP Story

In 1979 E&T Kointainer Co. began developing an inert, museum quality double pocket coin flip. Collectors would then have an alternative to the dangerous vinyl holders that were ruining so many coins. We invented a pure MYLAR holder, the SAFLIP copyrighted in 1980. Later, SAFLIP was improved to make it easier to fold and to make it airtight if a collector welded the flip pocket shut with a heat sealer. We also provided acid and sulphur free identification cards that could be inserted in one of the pockets. Since 1980, millions of SAFLIPs have been purchased and used by collectors, dealers and museums to safely store coins. In all those years, not a single coin has been damaged by these archival safe coin flips. A typical customer comment: After 35 years in numismatics, let me say your SAFLIP is the best I’ve ever seen and used.  Museums use them, why not you.

SAFLIPs are manufactured under rigorous conditions to keep them uncontaminated by oil or machine dirt. SAFLIPs are packaged in inert poly bags they are free of paper and cardboard dust that might cause spotting.

SAFLIPs have been purchased by Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell Universities, and the James Madison University and the University of Michigan for use in their libraries and museums. The American Numismatic Association selected a SAFLIP for their authentication service in 1987. Recommended by Glenbow Museum.

SAFLIPs can be sealed airtight with our heat sealer.

From the Bloggers: SAFLIPS are just one of the methods for coin storage available from KOINTAINERS.

Coin Storage


We have advised that a major project is underway to review cleaning, and conserving of our collection however no matter how much good work has been done here if our collection is not stored correctly then problems may re appear or new problems manifest themselves especially in hot humid climates.

Even our “cheap” coins should be stored correctly. Again this means spending money and many see it as money that could be spent on coins rather than “peripheral” necessities. Over the years new mediums to store coins have been introduced. When plastics became readily available it was immediately believed that any plastic could be made into beautiful, cheap coin holders that would not only protect the coin during storage and handling but the coin could also be viewed through the clear material. This appeared at first to be a brilliant solution to storage and reduce possible damage by handling. Unfortunately it was found out some time after the introduction of such holders that the nice flexible clear ones made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) held a dark secret. The secret was that the plasticiser (the additive that the plastic nice and flexible) separated from the body of the plastic and formed a green slime on the coin. So this would seem to be no real problem, the slime could just be removed. Not that simple, a component of the green slime was hydrochloric acid and that etched the surface of a coin

It took some time and many damaged coins, and some of them extremely expensive coins, to understand what was happening and new types of plastic formulated to ensure this does not happen. In fact the damage was so widespread that American grading agencies (in particular) have a service to repair coins that have had this problem or at least present them to their best advantage after neutralising the problem. Of course such agencies often deny that they sell cleaned coins, or even in this case repaired coins, but it does happen.

So we have known problem and a problem that should not occur again. However as in many things there are people wishing to advantage of ignorance and these nice flexible holders are still available (and very cheaply available) and misinformation is spread by the sellers. So people buy them and the problem still occurs long after it has become known.

The solution for collectors is simple. Collectors buy products that are known to be safe and they buy them from known sources. Yes they do cost a little more BUT you know they are safe. As a group we have chosen the coin storage specialists, Kointainers, to advise us on correct storage methods. Kointainers’ products are used by private collectors and museums alike. Their products have been developed by specialists for collectors and important collections.

In a few weeks a specialist article written by Kointainers will be available to our readers.!

Coin Cleaning and Preservation, AGAIN

This seems to have become a theme lately but the importance of it has been brought home again. A request has been made to comment on a specific copper coin. Not just any copper coin but one that is quite rare. On first seeing the coin there were some reservations as to its actual authenticity. It had the appearance of being heavily cleaned but perhaps that was also hiding other

Suggesting that a coin is suspect or a forgery is always a dangerous game to play so we will accept it as genuine. However we then start to look carefully at its attribution points. Yes the mint was probably able to be attributed, the style was somewhat unmistakable so we could attribute a ruler but what about the all-important date? Well that is where the problems set in.

The cleaning was so harsh that debates then started. Three dates are known for the coin and this might have been one of them but then again it might not be. For some of us new dates or any date for that matter are very important it helps complete a collection or extend our range of knowledge. I attributed a date which was not in accord with the discussion. So who is right and who is wrong?

In truth the coin is so badly damaged (or perhaps something else) that it will be exceptionally difficult ever to assign the correct date to it. This rare coin will become, for its final piece of attribution, nothing more than a talking point which will detract from its value in the market and will also detract from a source that was important in our understanding of the mint.

If we accept that the problem of the coin is purely bad cleaning then the coin had some major problems before it was so harshly cleaned. Perhaps better cleaning would have produced a date that could not be contested. There is a simple moral to this story: There are enough rare coins around for everyone to take a little care in their cleaning. Rarity adds value so those who prepare
coins for the market need to take due care.

However on the other hand if the marketplace is so hungry for any coins then the coin destroyers will continue. They have no need to learn. They are happy with very little for each coin when, more frequently than they think, one coin will be worth 100 times that of a common piece in the market place. No matter how rare the mint was on this coin it would not be purchased by me, too many queries about it but it is your decision whether you purchase such coins or not. So when the work on cleaning is completed please take note and show it to the cleaners, maybe we will all profit, some in money and some in knowledge.