Do gold coins tone?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by fretboard, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    I went into a pawn shop who I have done business with in the past but never in the capacity of collecting coins.

    Anyways on my way to get some lunch on Wednesday I decided to stop by there and I saw a $2.50 (quarter eagle) gold piece and it was in a bezel. I looked at it and I asked to see a loupe which the man gave me. It was dated a 1914 if memory serves me correctly.

    Upon further inspection I saw what looked like copper painting like spray paint. I asked him if it was tested and weighed and he said that it was. Now normally I would forget about it but I've never heard of gold toning and that was his answer to the color change.

    Oh, there was something else that I noticed as well On the E Pluribus Unum, the “E” had an error on it. The top line of the E was not straight across, wish I had a pic but I don't.

    Personally I've never seen a gold piece or ring or anything to do with gold ever tone. Excuse the question, am I wrong? Do gold coins actually tone?

    The price was marked way too high at $325 but I think I will go back there and actually speak to the owner this time.
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  3. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Buh bye

    Gold doesn't tone, but the copper/silver alloy that is usually with it does indeed tone.
  4. mcarney1173

    mcarney1173 Senior Member

    I don't think it should, at least naturally. I don't know exactly why but gold happens to be unaffected by oxidation. So, unless this gold was artificially toned, I don't think it should tone. Just look on ebay. Nothing toned.
  5. stainless

    stainless ANTONINIVS

    Not actually tone, but I have seen gold get to the darker copperish color.

  6. Bart9349

    Bart9349 Junior Member

    Although I am certainly no expert and I really don't collect coins, one of the bullion coins I "accumulated" had some unsightly brown spots. Being very unhappy with its discoloration, I almost returned it, but kept it since it was mostly for bullion purposes.

    For whatever reason (possible free submission), I submitted it to NGC and it came back MS 64. I was quite surprised that it graded so highly. (I was worried it might be body bagged.)

    I have since learned that the copper or other alloys used to make the soft gold harder can oxidize, creating unattractive dark spots. This discoloration, surprisingly, has little effect on grading.

  7. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    My feelings exactly. I will go back there and talk to the owner b/c I really think the coin is fake. Of course I will look up the proper weight and go there armed with the right info.

    The front of the coin looks good, the BLP or whatever lettering that's on the front under the Indian is there and looks right. The only thing that doesn't look right is the spray paint looking toning job.

    Hopefully I figure out my camera so that I can take a pic of it. The copper spray painting just bugs me to no end. The toning part doesn't look like toning at all, it looks like someone spray painted the gold coin with copper paint.

    The man I was talking to has been there forever and he must be around 70yrs old. I don't think that jewelry is his forte b/c I've bought a couple of rings there before and he isn't their jeweler.

    Anyways, I will find out more, and more will be revealed at a latter date. I've included a pic of a fake and the E Pluribus Unum has the exact same open blocked type lettering as the coin at the pawn shop. The difference is the top line going across on the E is crooked. If the coin is real then it has a error which I think would be rare, anyways I will find out and I will be studying quarter eagles this weekend. Any links would be most appreciated. :smile

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  8. illini420

    illini420 1909 Collector

    Gold coins can and do tone. Pure gold 24k shouldn't tone, but most U.S. gold coins are only 90% gold w/ 10% copper. The inclusion of the copper in the mix does allow gold to tone, sometimes quite beautifully, though not as often or as wildly as silver tones. The spotting that is sometimes seen on gold is also due to the copper in the mix. A couple of months ago Mark Feld had a great looking 1909 incuse Indian gold with some toning, didn't save a picture of that one though.
  9. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    Actually, gold does tone. It is very nonreactive but it does have some reactivity so it does tone. But, being that this coin is in the bezel...I would imagine it was used as jewelry or something in the past which means it may have been polished with chemicals and so forth. So, the colors you see might be a result of that or could be actual toning. Hard to say without pictures.

    It can. It does have some reactivity and thus can oxidize.
  10. illini420

    illini420 1909 Collector

    Thanks for the info, I always heard that only the 90% gold would tone. I would imagine that 24k is much less reactive than the 90% gold w/ 10% copper in any case since copper is pretty reactive.
  11. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    "Sometimes quite beautifully", just doesn't fit with this particular gold quarter eagle. However, now that I know that a little toning does occur that is of some help. I already told the man that I've never seen a gold coin with toning on it, so he's aware of that. I'll get on google tonight and see what I can find. Oh, nice collection of gold pieces you have. thx
  12. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Buh bye

    As far as copper spots toning on coins, the worst I have seen are the Mexican coins from 1919-1947. Even the 50 Pesos can be pretty bad, it was as though they did not the mix the alloy enough in smelting or something.
  13. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    We have had this discussion more times than I can count, and every single time the exact same things are said.

    Bottom line - gold tones. And yes, even pure gold tones. Anyone who has collected gold extensively will know this. And contrary to what many think, from a historical perspective it is only in more recent history that gold coins were not made of pure gold. And guess what - they tone !!

    Now I always refer to the ducat for examples. Pretty much every ducat ever struck from 1274 to today is struck in .986 gold. Yeah, sure, that's not pure gold. But it's so dang close it's almost rediculous. And they tone, there are thoudands of examples for proof.

    And then you have the pure gold coins. And yes, the metal is just as pure in these older coins as it is today. In some cases, even more so. For even .999 gold can be made more pure if you want to get technical.

    Here's 2 examples for you, both of these coins were struck in pure gold. And yes, the colors in the pics is accurate. I used to own both coins and took the pics myself. Another forum member now owns one of them.

    Attached Files:

  14. Mark Feld

    Mark Feld Rare coin dealer

    Here are images of a couple of naturally toned gold coins that I have sold previously:


  15. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Buh bye

    Old, Scottish and gold, and yes, toned:

  16. CrustyCoins

    CrustyCoins Twilight Photographer

    Yep gold tones:



  17. Just Carl

    Just Carl Numismatist

    GDJMSP sounds a little irritable. Yes this subject, like many come up frequently but we should all remember that not everyone here was here yesterday.
    As GDJMSP said though, Gold does tone. Actually all metals may due what is considered toning. Some may say corroding, tarnishing, staining, etc. but in fact all metals will combine with other substances to form a compound.
    Gold for instance will combine with Chlorine even to form Gold Chloride, AuCl3.
    Gold also forms HAuCl4 or Chloranic Acid. And naturally Gold combines with Fluorine, Cyanide and dissolves in Mercury. The most common darkening of Gold is usually due to that myserable stuff called Sulfur, Au2S.
  18. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    Gold coins will tone. I make no claims as to the originality of the toning on this piece.


  19. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Great pics, guys!!! I learn and I learn. I'm really glad you showed the pics. Now I have something to work with.

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  20. 900fine

    900fine doggone it people like me

    I presume the real question is "Do gold coins tone ?". This thread proves they do.

    More importantly is how they tone. The various metallic alloys used for coinage tone differently. Gold, silver, copper, nickel - they all have their own properties, so they tend to tone differently.

    Gold toning tends to be more subtle - as shown in this thread. I have never seen anything remotely resembling rainbow toning as is commonly seen on silver and copper. I have never seen gold tone rainbow as in Lehigh's coin, for example.

    Don't forget - it's not just the metallic gold in the coin, but the copper alloy and surface impurities which color over time.
  21. rzage

    rzage What Goes Around Comes Around .

    Learn something every day here , I always thought pure gold was inert , and just the copper and silver in our coins is what toned , great examples guys and girls .
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