Cleaning Old Pennies

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englishkid19
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Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by englishkid19 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:43 pm

Hi All,
I have found quite a few 1930 George One Pennies. They are typically green , but detail is there.
I decided to leave two of the three in the green state by lightly removing all dirt and just using a tip of putting oil from my face on them. It highlights all details and looks pretty nice / authentic.

With a third coin i did a mixture of lemon juice and salt bath after removing dirt by running water. This has brought it up pretty clean , looks coppery and has removed most of the green stuff however it sort of has a white cloud over the faces and Britannia obverse.

Is there anywhere in between these two steps , sort of like a happy medium? Or is it go with the authentic look or totally nuke the coin in lemon and salt and have a rough feeling finish ??

I decided to do some experiments with coins that are barely worth anything to start...

Thanks Tom


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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Lowland » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:23 pm

Keep experimenting,
You will end up with some disasters
But can get some really good looking coins at the end of ::g
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by sweepstick47 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:11 pm

Hello 'englishkid19' I suppose there's nothing wrong with a degree of 'trial and error' attempts at cleaning coins of no perceived value but in general I think it's better to leave them as is unless the subject has been studied sufficiently to prevent deterioration (or dare I say injury) :-O .

I don't think there's any harm in applying a little natural oil from your face (sebum) or similar, though most recommend various wax products which need to be chosen with care. As with so many things in life, if you're not sure, leave well alone :D Regards ss47 ::g

PS. The green coating you refer to (Patina) is a desired condition in all found artifacts and as such, without exception in my mind, should not be removed. Some may disagree but that's my opinion.
Good Luck. ss47
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Twit » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:54 am

I agree with ss47 there.

Copper based coins are very hard to clean beyond removing dirt.

Underneath the patina of copper coins you will almost always find a poorer less detailed surface.

With brass/bronze ( which are mostly copper) it is the same, except you might find coins with crusty patches making the coin look more ugly... if you remove those then it will either usually leave a blotchy coin or you have to do the whole coin and lose detail that is there. Exceptions are coins that are so crusty there is no detail at all, you might choose to take them back to metal. Any that have soft blue powdery areas ( bronze disease) need to be stabilised ( you can start by soaking them in distilled water till you read up on how).

Silver coloured nickel coins are actually almost always a larger part copper, so they have that dark patina when old ( though they have only much been used for around a century)... you can remove their patina to bring them back to original, but often there is a loss of detail doing that, sometimes a rough surface underneath.

Tips are to be patient, only use milder household ingredient soaks , and most of all observe and learn what each corrosion type is... it can be frustrating but eventually you just learn to accept to leave certain coins (especially copper based ones) mostly as they are.

Have fun ::g

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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Koala » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:38 am

Never tried it myself

"How To Clean Coins by Frozen Water Expansion
This method effectively works on coins that have hard deposits of dirt on their surfaces. This cleaning technique is simple and consists of only two steps:
1) Place a coin in distilled water and soak it for a while so that the water molecules would have enough time to penetrate the dirt and, if possible, other deposits on the coin's surface. Some dirt may break off during soaking, so you just toothbrush it off the coin.
2) Place the coin in a plastic container and put the container in a freezer. As the water gets frozen, its ice crystals will expand and break the dirt deposits apart. To completely rid the coin's surface of dirt, you need to repeat the soaking/freezing procedure several times. This cleaning technique will not damage the coin."

http://www.metaldetectingworld.com/clea ... ical.shtml

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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Mega B » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:07 am

As they are basically just pennies i would just leave them as is,i certainly would 'never' clean any decent finds infact i only ever run mine under a tap and use a very soft toothbrush,have seen some superb finds that have lost value due to folks cleaning them with chemicals or mechanical means.

Collector's prefer them in un-cleaned condition,if in doubt 'dont'.
The difference between perception and reality can be vast indeed.

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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Lowland » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:33 am

Heres a copper Victoria early penny that was completely black and unremarkable
I was never going to sell it for a tenner so I stuck it in my ’pocket.
Maybe not for everyone for sure
But I love it!
Cheers ::g
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Euro Detector » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:59 am

Lowland wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:33 am
Heres a copper Victoria early penny that was completely black and unremarkable
I was never going to sell it for a tenner so I stuck it in my ’pocket.
Maybe not for everyone for sure
But I love it!
Cheers ::g
Turned out nice ::g Looks like she's wearing some sunglasses if you look closely.

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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Lowland » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:08 am

Dammit it’s the mega rare sunglasses edition!
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Mud Max » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:24 am

I have learnt the hard way that less is more. I have tried all sorts of liquids and cleaning tips but the best tip I had was to leave it alone, let it completely dry out, and brush it dry. A friend advised me that the museums tell you to only wash with distilled water.

Sometimes a coin can look more detailed when it is initially soaked in lemon juice, or vinegar, or scrubbed with fairy liquid etc, but when they dry off they usually look worse than before you started IMHO.

If a coin is heavily diseased and corroded I will use electrolysis, but we are talking about coins that are knackered before you start, because electrolysis is a gamble that you don't want to take with anything half decent.
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by vladorado » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:46 pm

I rinse the copper coins with water and wash them with wash up liquid, then I soak them in olive oil for 2-3 days and then dry them with tissue and wool cloth. I clean the deposited dirt with the three coin cleaning pencils depending on the level of corrosion and rub with the wool cloth at the end. Finally, last soak in the olive oil and rub with the cloth. They end up pretty good.
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Phil2401 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:05 pm

Like everyone else with inexperienced enthusiasm I've tried all sorts and probably wrecked a few decent coins in the process. Just wondering if there are any online resources on the topic that are used by numismatists / archaeologists / conservators etc.... off to Google.

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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by englishkid19 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:25 pm

From my understanding then the typical advices is :

Valuable Coin say £25 + -beyond dry out and brushing off with light brush,sebum from face to gain detail - do not mess with - seek expert advice

Invaluable Coin - experiment at your peril

Toasted Coins - damned if you do . damned if you don't - so nothing to lose unless you have a feeling it is valuable

Silvers / Golds - always seek advice on
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Re: Cleaning Old Pennies

Post by Twit » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:54 pm

englishkid19 wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:25 pm
From my understanding then the typical advices is :

Valuable Coin say £25 + -beyond dry out and brushing off with light brush,sebum from face to gain detail - do not mess with - seek expert advice

Invaluable Coin - experiment at your peril

Toasted Coins - damned if you do . damned if you don't - so nothing to lose unless you have a feeling it is valuable

Silvers / Golds - always seek advice on

Something like that, the definitions between what is valuable or not varies from person to person, just as the way how people prefer their coins for keeping and presentation varies. If you go to a numismatic website you will be greeted by howls and scowls by some members at the mere suggestion of cleaning in any way, though it is generally admitted that most professionals do make efforts to improve the appearance of coins. They should always say if a coin has been cleaned beyond a bare minimum . After that there is simple cleaning, through to rebuilding the coin and applying false patina etc. Unless clearly stated that the latter have been done, it is considered very bad form, and some consider it bad form even then.

I think the point is that some pieces are very rare or unique. It isn't about losing value per se, it is about not ruining pieces of history. If you have a common gold coin and throw it into a river, non one will complain, they might just call you daft though.

I think most people have ruined or part ruined a decent coin or two, just try to make sure they are not ones which are rare, and value is a good ( but not perfect) guide to that.

Gold and silver are actually easier to clean. With gold you usually don't need to, the ( generally copper) inclusions that come out and form a kind of "old gold" patina are usually appreciated... you can bring most gold back to "new" without much trouble at all, but that kind of defeats the object in many cases. I found a very old gold ring that looked like it was just brass with a rubbishy patina, basically looked like a piece of junk..I cleaned it gently and underneath was gold, nothing lost. If it is a rare item you should research properly or ask advice though. Try to avoid mechanical damage on these metals... soaks, gentlest of brushing under running water best.

On silver some original patina is very appreciated, so gentle cleaning only, if the coin is really looking not very presentable at all - though some would say just leave be also. The silver itself is unlikely to be much affected by mild acids. I have found silver with completely unreadable crust, from saltwater. After removing that ( took a while), underneath was a normal nice patina. My mistake was to be not careful brushing it, put a few very fine scratches on it - you would not notice by eye, but to a collecter they would be a major down point...a shame when I could have had a near perfect coin...but then I don't feel concerned handling that coin either now , something I appreciate more than just staring at it in a folder :) . One tip for basic cleaning silver to remove soil, is to use a dabbing of soft paintbrush end under running water... does not damage patina. If a rare piece then best to ask though. Dry brushing can cause scratches to a very fine coin, or a very fine patina, from debris..so it all depends, eventually you reach techniques and results that you are satisfied with, experience will teach you best, but asking someone you trust helps too. Large topic, and those interested are usually keen to share their thoughts.

Phil - there is lots of info out there, but it is an evolving discipline also. You will find most of the info from the academic world is based on how to preserve objects as they are ( conservation) as opposed to how to make them presentable. Some numismatic websites for enthusiasts do have good forums on how best to go about "restoring" the best out of a coin though...and plenty of argument.

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