The cleaning issue get's a lot of discussion in coins, but I like the term harsh cleaning better. In general I do not view the removal of foreign material on a coin as harsh cleaning as long as it does not alter the metal, regardless of what condition the metal is in. If the cleaning method removes metal than it's harsh cleaning. So dirt in the devices, lacquer added by a previous owner, milkshake residue :), all acceptable. Removing those black carbon spots or smoothing corrosion would not be OK.
With that said, I have seen coins which have had rim dents 'improved' and honestly I think it increased the eye appeal, and value, of the coin. I also have cleaned coins which have been intentionally recolored and again it was for the better. I would pay more for a problem free coin which did not need improvement in both situations, but I would also pay more in both of those situations for the improved coin than for the unimproved coin.
Just curious; how would a rim dent be improved without altering the metal? How would you know that the process of improving the rim dent was performed in a correct way? This is of interest to me.
You can file off a rim dent. You can even burnish what is left afterwards, but some metal is always still moved from where it started. So, you can sometimes "improve" a rim dent, but you can never "cure" one.
I can not see improving a rim dent on any early copper coin or token. You take the early copper coin or token as it has been circulated and decide if it belongs in your collection. They all have a story to tell, or maybe several, and you are the one to accept them into your care. A treasure in your hands to be cared for and enjoyed!
What are you thoughts on taking a harshly cleaned one and re-toning it?
Originally Posted by Mike Rolling
The two parts I brought I think are clearly in the gray area, some people will hate the idea and other may not. The rim ding one came too mind because I was reading the Kopald sale catalog and his S2 had this done. In either situation, I think they need to be disclosed when the coin is sold.
Bill answered the general how to 'improving' a rim ding. As to the specifics, I have no idea how they get rid of the tool marks and match the color. I imagine if I were to try it, the coin would end up looking much, much worse...
First of all, the harsh cleaning has been performed and can not be reversed. I am not an expert on this issue but, one that is would surely notice this type of treatment on a re-toned copper. I agree that the seller of a harshly cleaned and re-toned copper coin or token should disclosed this in the sale description. I would not even attempt to clean a copper coin or token and leave it in a degraded state. It is important to me, that after the sale, I can hold and look at the copper coin or token and not regret purchasing it for any reason!
I would not add a harshly cleaned and/or re-toned copper coin or token to my collection. The only exception to my feelings on this issue would be the rarity of the copper. The S2 as you mentioned is a good example for this consideration.
As a new member of EACS, I have been working my way through the cleaning/conservation debate. It is clear to me that conservation is acceptable to at least some collectors, although others will maintain that if it is done, it should be done only by a professional. So I am challenged by that! I am certainly no professional, but I have made an attempt, and would like some feedback. For this coin, I used a soak in Xylol, washed with soap and water and then a soak in Verdi-Care. Have I done enough? Should the coin have another round of that regimin? Should I forget the whole idea of conservation? Any feedback would be appreciated - even if it is "you completely messed it up"! I practiced first on some lincoln cents, and then on this large cent.
I am sure that there are very few OLD coins that have never been cleaned in any way. We all have recolored coins in our collections. I certainly do. Sometimes it is obvious, and we can easily tell that a coin has been recolored. Other times the recoloring is so skillfully done that we can't tell, but it has still been done. I agree that abrasive cleaning damages the surface in ways that can't be totally repaired, but there are ways of cleaning coppers that are so gentle that the patina is not disturbed.
From the photos, it looks like Pete2226's cleaning job had little effect. You might try xylol on a Q-tip. Just roll the soaked tip around where the crud is and see if it comes loose that way. Repeat as needed. Xylol won't hurt a copper's color unless the color is artificial. Soap and water are also good.
After cleaning be sure to brush with a little Blue Ribbon or the like.
If an early copper coin was not harshly cleaned but was recolored; what do you look for that indicates recoloring? Also, what method would have been performed to do the recoloring?
You look for color that is uneven or unusual. Anything pinkish indicates a cleaned coin. A coin with areas of the fields that are different colors (except where the different colors come from corrosion). Anything really black is probably also recolored. Circulated coppers get brown, but they don't get black. Sulfur, which is used to retone coppers, turns it black and pits the surface if you use too much or leave it on for too long.