Damage Control/Preservation

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Numisnewbiest, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    Limited by finances (lack thereof) to really only having one coin, I've always wanted it to be a nice big bronze of Vespasian and I found one, a 32mm sestertius in bad shape. The problem is the treatment it's gotten in the past, and how to keep it from getting any worse.

    It's obviously suffered a very bad and scratchy attempt at cleaning at some point, thankfully a very quick attempt, but the seller says it's been waxed, too. If I buy this coin and remove the wax, will all the cleaning scratches encourage bronze disease to start? Should the wax be kept on the coin? I know it's pretty shot, but I do like the portrait.

    s-l1600 (1).jpg
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  3. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I like it - as you say, that portrait is very nice indeed. If the price was right, I'd jump on it.

    As for the wax and preservation issues, I don't have much experience. It does not have that overly-glossy varnished look that a few of my waxed ancients have - if the photos are a good representation of its appearance, I'd leave it alone.
    Justin Lee and Numisnewbiest like this.
  4. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I would not do a thing with it. It does look old and well used, but it's an ancient coin. It's not supposed to look like somebody just cracked a proof set. What it says to me is, look at all my wear and tear from people like peasants to tradesmen to soldiers to women shopping and shopkeepers haggling over me and when I did disappear for well over a millennium where did I lie awaiting my new life in your hands. Well circulated ancient coins have many, many interesting stories to tell. Hold it to your ear and listen to its tale..
  5. Alegandron

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

    I never clean coins, or screw around with them. (Only one of of my coins was cleaned by an expert).

    To me, your coin looks great, and I would not fiddle with it. It represents a great AE coin of a great emperor. I like it as is.

    Here is my only AE of Vespasian, nary touched under my stewardship.
    RI Vespasian 69-79 CE AE Dupondius Felicitas stdg caduceus cornucopia sinister left.jpg
    RI Vespasian 69-79 CE AE Dupondius Felicitas stdg caduceus cornucopia sinister left
  6. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    If you don’t like it now I doubt you will like it more once it has been cleaned.

    The lighter brown in the corrosion pits on the reverse looks like wax. Soaking the coin in acetone would remove it. The wax may be concealing bronze disease, which would explain the pitting. You would then need to (re)treat the bronze disease.

    I would be hesitant to do anything to the coin because the patina looks off to me as well. Given that it fills the scratches, the “patina” appears to have been added after an excessive bout of cleaning. Any further attempts at cleaning (such as using the acetone I mentioned above) could strip the artificial patina away leaving who knows what.
    Justin Lee, DonnaML and Numisnewbiest like this.
  7. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    I asked the seller about that very same thing, the odd look of the brown on the reverse. That's when I learned of the wax treatment the coin has on it. It's even more obvious if you click the picture in my original post. I was so curious about the thick brown on the reverse that I hadn't even noticed the patina having filled the bad cleaning scratches, too.
  8. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    The coin also looks smoothed. I’m not trying to be negative here, but with so much done to it I’d personally worry that there may be active bronze disease under all that makeup. If there is, by the time you learn of it the coin may well be unsalvagable. Ironically enough, the best thing you could do if you do buy it might be to apply a light coat of museum wax to prevent any concealed bronze disease from progressing.
    DonnaML and Numisnewbiest like this.
  9. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    Nothing you've said is taken negatively - I appreciate everyone's feedback, and you've helped me notice things I hadn't seen, so thank you.
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That's a really nice high relief portrait of Vespasian.

    Acetone (100%) will remove the wax, but you might end up with a very rough surface, and the pits on the reverse may reveal more issues.

    If the price is right and you buy the coin, I'd leave it as-is.
    DonnaML and Justin Lee like this.
  11. fomovore

    fomovore Active Member

    I would pass on this coin (even though I like the portrait). Just (I know it's easy to say "just") be patient and save for 5-6 months and get a better coin. You'll be much happier with that. That's what I do. I do get lucky once in a while.
    DonnaML and Numisnewbiest like this.
  12. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    That's what I decided to do. I have a Roman bronze patera handle that's going to sale as soon as I get it (won it unexpectedly at auction), and if I can sell that it will be money toward a coin with much fewer issues. I don't want perfection or rarity...just a really nice portrait on a big bronze with readable legends. I saw one on MA Shops, and I'd love to get close to his price before the coin gets away.
    DonnaML likes this.
  13. fomovore

    fomovore Active Member

    "In a previous life, I was the guy who brought Vespasian his shoes every morning. And that whole urine tax thing was my idea, too."
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