Adding new coins to your collection

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by jamesicus, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    When you add a new unencapsulated Ancient coin to your collection, whether it be via auction, from a dealer or from a fellow collector, do you just add it as is, or do you first run it through your own preparation/cleaning protocol - if so, what is your protocol?

    For example, I first treat every new acquisition as follows: I first soak the coin in distilled water with mild dishwashing detergent added for a few minutes, while gently cleansing the surfaces using a soft toothbrush. Then I rinse the coin in fresh, clean, distilled water for a few minutes. Finally I lay the coin on a paper towel and dab (not rub) the upper surface with surplus paper towel and leave it to air dry. After an appropriate amount of time, and after checking to be sure the coin is perfectly dry, I add it to my collection.

    Added: if I suspect the coin has been waxed or oiled, I first soak it in Acetone.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2020
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  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Numismatic jack of all trades & specialist in none Moderator

    Good question. I never really considered it. I take 'em as-is, with no cleaning.

    The only exception is with copper and bronze (non-ancient) World coins I find in bulk lots (or Wheat cents or British large pennies bought in bulk), which I do sometimes use a bit of mineral oil or Vaseline on (and then wipe it off).

    I did buy a little tin of Renaissance Wax once, but only used it a few times.

    Most of the ancients I buy don't need any cleaning- or so it would have seemed to me- like I said, I never really considered it.
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  4. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you M’Lord :). I added a couple of caveats to my post as a result of your most welcome comments.
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  5. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    My approach to cleaning coins is basically "less is better". Each new coin is evaluated to determine if it would benefit from cleaning, using the minimal approach of soaking in distilled water, and then proceeding from there if needed.

    I tend to leave a good many coins alone, such as this one, an imitation tetradrachm of Athens that I believe is from Gaza, which has already been partially cleaned when I received it.

    D-Camera Attica Gaza Imitative Tetradrachm, eBay, 8-10-20.jpg

    On the other hand, some coins do need attention, such as this drachma of Cleopatra VII:


    D-Camera Cleopatra Drachm, Bronze Disease, 5-6-20.jpg
    D-Camera Cleopatra Drachm, Bronze Disease.2, 5-6-20.jpg
    After, cleaned and treated with Renwax:

    D-Camera Cleopatra VII, 80 Drachma, After cleaning and Renwax treatment, 7-2-20.jpg

    The Cleopatra drachma is the exception. If I have a lot of dirty bronzes, at most they get the distilled water plus detergent, if needed.

    Attached Files:

  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    James, After a couple of disasters in my early collecting years I no longer clean coins ;). Large bronze coins with wear I usually remove from slabs since handling them usually enhances their appearance, like the coin below :).
    SNG Levante 1514, no slab.jpg
    If it's a very rare coin in choice condition I'll get it slabbed, like the coin below :D.

    Septimius Severus, Prieur 1151 (2).jpg

    Coins with an odd shape, like the one below, never look good in a slab :smuggrin:.
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  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    The only coins I routinely treat upon arrival are billon Alexandrian tetradrachms. They get a bit of Verdicare. Occasionally other bronzes do as well.

    If a bronze coin looks like it has wax or other clear coating, I have occasionally soaked them in alcohol and then (or) acetone before Verdicare.

    I used to examine all of my bronze coins fairly often but they've been in a safe deposit box for the last year and I've only examined them all once during that time :(.
  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I usually put every new coin in a dish with acetone & swish the dish around for a bit. I've had many coins that have a sticky feel or PVC smell and continue to get new coins that way, so I feel comfortable with the acetone baths, and many times the sticky or smell is gone.
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  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter




    If they are in a slab, I crack'em out.

    Otherwise, into a Saflip, and "Welcome to the Club"
  10. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Not much cleaning for me these days but I do a distilled water soak for a couple of days on ones which are dirty when they arrive.
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  11. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Basically nothing, James. When looking at coins, I tend to get an image of the general condition, before bidding/buying. I basically avoid coins that have e.g. green spots, or otherwise show surface spots that would require treatment.
    So far, only once did I buy a coin that needed obvious cleaning - and that purchase was done very recently and the main reason was the price (money is always the decisive factor, so it seems...!).
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