I am a new member to EAC. I have never attempted to clean a coin as I believe it was not a good practice. In the , EAC Guide to Early Copper's publication, page 9, Cleaning Coins is noted. I read that commercial cleaners "leave a thin film of protective lubricant". I have noticed this type of film on a couple of large cents that I have recently purchased. Thought it might be olive oil in nature. Is this type of cleaning to protect a large cent common amongst copper collectors? This is new to me and has me inquiring on the subject of cleaning copper.
Hi, Mike- Welcome to the club.
Cleaning coins is a very controversial subject. I suggest that you look at an article I wrote for the July 2012 issue of Penny-Wise. If you don't have the issue, you can get it from the members-only area of the eacs.org website. Check pages 190-191 for my comments on what cleaning is and what is good and bad about it.
I hope you will be at EAC this May. You'll learn a lot.
Congratulations Bill - that was one excellent article and I refer to your net grading comments in this article often. I think that "cleaning" is probably a misnomer and covers a lot of things that it should not.
Most of my personal "cleaning" is to use acetone to very gently wipe off large cents that I have just released from their certified coffins. I am shocked by the amount of green residue that my Q-tip accumulates from the surface of these large cents that is not evident in a visual inspection prior to my "cleaning". The older the slab, the more green residue that my Q-tip appears to attract from the large cent. A touch of Blue Ribbon immediately after "cleaning", and my large cent is prepped and ready for my cotton lined envelopes.
I have never experienced any change in the natural toning of a large cent that has been "cleaned" in this manner, but the large cent now looks as good as it can be, and is now ready for long-term preservation.
Welcome to the club Mike.
I wanted to add a couple pictures and a brief explanation on how and why I clean copper. As Bill's article explains, I think there is a difference between harsh cleaning and trying to conserve a coin. I use xylol, an organic solvent, to remove built up crude and oils from the coin. Doing this accomplishes two goals, it removes harmful contaminants from the coin which may lead to corrosion in the future, and it allows for the attribution. With late date large cents, often the built up dirt hides the attribution points, so removal is necessary to correctly attribute the coin.
I also use a product called verdi-care after I have used xylol to condition the coin. I also believe this product adds a protective layer, a couple molecules thick, on the surface of the coin.
Here are the pics, before and after the xylol/verdicare cleaning:
I did not take the before pictures, but as you can see the xylol did not affect the patina on the coin. It did not strip any metal away from the coin or leave a surface which appears harshly cleaned. It did remove the crude in the devices, which helped attribute this coin as a 53 n25.
Last edited by beef1020; 03-17-2013 at 03:49 PM.
A very good article! I have a better understanding on this subject. I am beginning to see that the conservation of coppers comes from the heart. It is what a collector wants best for his historical copper coins and tokens. Thank you for your reply as that is what I am interested in receiving. Take care.
Originally Posted by weckberg
The before and after pictures are interesting! Up until now I have heard of harsh cleaning methods which are not good for a coin. The removal of contaminants and protecting the copper coin in a conserving manner appears to stabilize its condition. So far I read about acetone and xylol solvents and Blue Ribbon and verdi-care conditioners for the coppers.
Thank you for your response.
Originally Posted by beef1020
This is what we refer to as a proper bath. Cleaning refers to stripping or brightening the color of a copper coin.
Is Verdi-care the new conditioner replacing Blue Ribbon? I have read that Blue Ribbon is no longer available for environmental issues. Are there any other products in the market place?
I read where lacquer was applied to Early American Coppers and has turned black in color. Was this an early method of preserving mint state copper coins or tokens? What was the logic behind the process? Was the application of lacquer destructive to the copper coin or token? Is removing the lacquer destructive to the condition of a copper coin or token? Is removal of lacquer considered cleaning?
Yep. None. No. I used to own one that had been lacquered. It didn't melt away with xylol. It could however be easily, properly and nicely removed after that with a fresh thorn from a fresh branch from my blackberry hedge. But only the speck of lacquer touched by the thorn came away--no chunks. This means that it would have taken hours to remove it all instead of a few minutes as with regular dirt. I gave up and (years) later upgraded that coin. It would have been choice if not for the black color sticking to all devices on the coin. I consider removal of a substance on a coin that makes it ugly a blessing and not a crime, as long as the surfaces when finished show under 10x to be original and nicer than they had been, as with the method I described above. Others may consider this wrong but what if the kids of the last owner before the coin shop dealer spilled milkshake all over the coin last month? A bath is proper for many coins.