Is it true that cleaning a coin removes a surface film?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Gam3rBlake, Jun 17, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    I was at my LCS today and the owner and I were discussing improperly cleaned coins.

    He told me recognizing cleaned coins can be difficult at first but that it gets easier with practice.

    I told him that I could never identify cleaned coins and he said that when a coin is cleaned improperly there is a very very thin surface film of mint luster that is removed which will change a coin’s luster and that there is no way to repair or replace it (aside from melting the coin down and reminting it).

    Is this true? Is there really something on the very surface of a coin that is permanently removed with improper cleaning and can be detected because the luster will look different without it?

    Is that why some coins have a cartwheel luster?

    Im trying to learn to identify cleaned coins for when I start buying raw coins.
     
    sel w, TonkawaBill, MIGuy and 2 others like this.
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  3. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    I believe you are correct.
     
    sel w, TonkawaBill, MIGuy and 2 others like this.
  4. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Well not me since I didn’t say it. It’s something my LCS owner told me and I just moved to a new city so I don’t really know if he’s one of those dealers who really knows his stuff or just likes to think he does.

    But if it’s true it means it sounds like he knows his stuff.
     
  5. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like burning the house for a spider!
    I'm sure a budget collector would pay more than the melt value for coins that are truly rare or needed for other reasons even if they were cleaned or holed or damaged in other ways!
     
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  6. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Gam3rBlake, posted: "I was at my LCS today and the owner and I were discussing improperly cleaned coins.

    He told me recognizing cleaned coins can be difficult at first but that it gets easier with practice.


    True. If you learn to tip a coin and turn it at the same time through the light (correct examination) so that you learn what an ORIGINAL SURFACE should look like FOR ALL GRADES (including circulated) it becomes easy to detect improper cleaning. I have found that a very large number of collectors cannot tell. With proper instruction anyone with an "eye-for-detail" can learn quickly. Women are usually better at it then men. To illustrate this, I tell my grading students that a woman can walk into a room and quickly spot a cigar butt next to the floorboard BEHIND the couch!

    I told him that I could never identify cleaned coins and he said that when a coin is cleaned improperly there is a very very thin surface film of mint luster that is removed which will change a coin’s luster and that there is no way to repair or replace it (aside from melting the coin down and reminting it).

    He is possibly using an uncirculated coin as an example. Low grade coin do not have any original mint luster remaining. Improper cleaning does change the surface. However, proper cleaning (conservation :D) also changes the surface.

    "I'm trying to learn to identify cleaned coins for when I start buying raw coins."

    "For when" should be a long time. Best to wait. Since you also collect ancients, most of them will be "raw" anyway.

    PS Since very many coins have been cleaned at sometime, you'll need to learn when improper cleaning is "market acceptable" for the TPGS's.
     
    sel w, TonkawaBill and MIGuy like this.
  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Lol he wasn’t implying actually melting cleaned coins down. He just meant that that’s there is no way to put the “film” back on a cleaned coin aside from re-minting it.
     
  8. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Actually I collect US coins too. My most recent being an F12 1799 Draped Bust Dollar.

    But so far both my Ancients & US coins are all graded by PCGS or NGC.

    Right now I’m working on getting a denarius from each of the Twelve Emperors written about by Suetonius in his work “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars”: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

    However I do want to start buying raw coins since usually a raw coin of equal quality to a slabbed coin will be cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2021
  9. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    I concur.
     
    sel w likes this.
  10. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    So tell us about the coin shop! Get anything good?!
     
  11. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Your LCS is correct. Improper cleaning removes mint luster. It’s more noticeable on lower grade coins but you’ll get the hang of it. Just because a coin is shiny doesn’t mean it’s full of luster.
     
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  12. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Nah nothing too exciting.

    It was my 2nd time going to his shop since I moved here and I’m just trying to build up a relationship since I noticed with some coin dealers they are more willing to haggle with prices if they know that I am a regular buyer.

    They may not give huge discounts but my old dealer used to sell stuff to me for 2-3% less than with customers he didn’t know.

    Today the LCS didn’t have much stuff but I picked up these.

    8D7F80E7-F361-4969-BA0D-A590B91772F8.jpeg
     
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  13. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Actually, there are many ways to alter the surface of a coin to hide defects or raise its eye appeal. The folks who do it are called "Coin Doctors" and many do excellent "work."
     
    sel w, MIGuy and wxcoin like this.
  14. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Ive heard of coin doctors before (my old dealer had a $10 gold Turban Head with some repair work done) but I didn’t know they could even make a cleaned coin looked unclean. o_O

    But I’m guessing the pros at the TPGs would be able to tell it’s been doctored right?
     
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  15. Insider

    Insider Talent on loan from...

    Collecting Nut,

    Please allow me to modify this post just a little:

    "Your LCS is correct. Improper cleaning removes mint luster [if present]. It’s more noticeable on lower grade coins [...on any grade coin, depending on the severity, method, and type of improper cleaning] but you’ll get the hang of it. Just because a coin is shiny doesn’t mean it’s full of [Mint]luster. [...because shiny coins have shiny luster].
     
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  16. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    Nice assortment, and yes, get to know your LCS. Hopefully you find a good one. I'm lucky to have one decent shop near me.
     
  17. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah same here. There are only two coin shops nearby.

    One of them wasn’t even really a coin shop. Mostly just jewelry and bullion.

    They tried to ask for $50 for a 2021 BU American Silver Eagle and $60 for a 1 oz Mexican Libertad. I politely declined and have never gone back.

    I know ASEs have a huge premium right now but if a shop is charging significantly more than APMEX & JM Bullion I refuse to buy from them.

    It’s one thing to make a profit. It’s something else entirely to make a profit by ripping people off. $50 for a 2021 Silver Eagle is a rip-off in my book.


    However one thing I did learn is that it’s always better to go in with cash rather than a credit card or even a debit card.


    I didn’t know that before because my old dealer used to waive the fees for me when I used a credit card and I got 3% cashback so I always used it for coin purchases.

    Now I’m sticking with 100% cash money.
     
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  18. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    Always cash at LCS! Unwritten rule maybe?!
     
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  19. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    I saw yesterday SD is charging $47 for 2020 ASEs, just insane. I'm picking my purchases carefully these days.
     
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  20. Scott J

    Scott J Well-Known Member

    JM is at $37 fir the new Type II ASE. I'm either going to grab 5 of those or an ATB FOR $200
     
  21. OldSilverDollar

    OldSilverDollar In the background Supporter

    Cleaning is often an just a viewpoint by coin graders as I have seen many, many experienced coin dealers send in a coin to have it come back cleaned and the dealer and anyone they show it to cannot find a cleaning mark.

    Some obvious cleaned coins they get a pass by graders because the year and series.

    You could save a lot of money buying cleaned coins once you understand what to look for and understand the whole cleaning label is itself flawed. Often you will find very nice coins you could look at for hours and not see any rub marks.
    Buying ICG and Anacs coins you could get better deals then raw as people often heavily discount when it has a nice coin.

    I seen hundreds of coins come back from crossover from one TPG to another TPG were they were given a cleaned label with no reason given and majority you could Crack out and send back to them and get a strait grade.

    I bought recently a so called clean coin of a series of coin I do not collect myself that was labeled cleaned/artificial toning but before buying I asked the seller for better photos and was certain the coin was body bagged due to one grading company seeing themselves as God's when accepting crossover coins from another grading company. I got it, cracked it and sent it to NGC priority and my $5000 gamble is now worth $15000, mailed it to heritage yesterday to collect my winnings.

    TLDR: sometimes so called cleaned coins are hidden gems not the majority of Time but once you know what to look for and how to grade the coin independently of the label.
     
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