Featured Noble Roman Coins "Premium Uncleaned" REVIEW

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by hotwheelsearl, May 24, 2020.

  1. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Grab a coffee I guess, and try to enjoy this review more than I enjoyed this whole nightmare of a process. Haha

    As promised, here is my review of NRC's "Premium Uncleaned" coins.
    You can find them for sale here:

    You may remember from my previous post on NRC's "Deluxe Beginner's Set," where I gave the overall package a pretty low score of 6/10.
    In that review, I gave the uncleaned coins a 5/10 rating.
    However, that was before I finished cleaning everything, and I would like to revise my 5/10 into something somewhat better, with a different grading scale.

    Since the dichotomy between the successes and failures were so dramatic, I will present each successful coin, in order of worst to best, and give a grade for each.
    At the end I'll tally it up and see what we get.

    As for the roaches, I'll chalk those up to "comes with the territory" and ignore them for the grade.
    However, I want to make it very clear that I am not satisfied with how the coins matched the description.
    "These coins are NOT junk, trust me. In the past, we have referred to these as ‘beginner coins’ or ‘excellent for honing your cleaning skills' or ‘practice coins.’ These are not. As seen in the photo, each of these LRBC issues are simply covered with soft dirt that will respond best with DW soaks and mechanical cleaning with dental picks, common scalpels, and tooth brushing, etc." (emphasis mine)
    Additionally, the coins are advertised as the SAME as the "True Premium" uncleaned issues, which are described as, basically, being 10/10's with a bit of clay on them. Finally, the description indicated that "nearly half" will clean up to VF or better condition. I found 9/30, or less than one-third to warrant that distinction.
    In that respect, I found that the advertising was incorrect. None of the coins I received were at all close to being presentable after just DW and mechanical cleaning. Every single one required a soak in Gringgott's #2, and many also required a harsh lye treatment.

    That being said...​

    I wanted to examine only the successful cleans and ignore the slugs, as we all know that a few bad apples should not spoil the whole bushel.

    Cost - $1.70/coin

    Coin #1
    AE3, 18mm
    ?? ruler
    Gloria Exercitus (single standard) reverse
    coin 1.JPG
    This is the worst of the "successful" ones. I can't tell the ruler at all, and you can barely tell the reverse. One might say that I was a bit too harsh in the mechanical cleaning, but there was simply no other way to get the detail that I did.
    Rating: 2/10

    Coin #2
    AE4, 16mm
    Gloria Romanorum reverse
    coin 2.JPG
    At least this one is fully identifiable. The portrait seems to have been the victim of a deliberate damaging campaign, but I don't remember Valens being subjected to a Damnatio Memoriae. Or maybe it's just coincidental damage.
    Reverse is reasonable, and the patina is nice and even, with excellent color.
    Rating: 6/10

    Coin #3
    AE3, 17mm
    Constantius II
    FTR Horseman reverse
    coin 3.JPG
    The letters on the obverse are nice and clear, but most of the details are rather mushy. The horseman on the reverse is actually rather nice in hand, but again details are sort of hit-and-miss on this one. The ragged flan takes away from the overall experience.
    Rating: 4/10

    Coin #4
    AE3, 17mm
    Romulus and Remus reverse
    coin 4.JPG This one had tons of potential, but unfortunately it falls short of the mark. The face of the bust is nice, but the pitting on the cheek and rest of head really kill this one. Likewise, the most interesting part of the reverse is obliterated by pitting.
    Rating: 5/10

    Coin #5
    AE3, 18mm (oblong)
    Constantius II
    FTR Horseman
    coin 5.JPG
    Overall, quite nice. The portrait is striking, although some letters are cut off. The reverse is as good as you'd expect from a generic FTR. Main horseman is highly stylized, and the flow lines actually give it a pretty nice appearance. Unfortunately, the fallen enemy is sort of busted which is tough. The coin has a decent green-brown patina in hand which is pretty good.
    Rating: 7/10

    Coin #6
    AE3, 17mm
    FTR Galley reverse
    coin 6.JPG
    Again, lots of potential but falls short. Obverse is decent, but the face is uneven and doesn't look too attractive. The reverse is GREAT though. Sharp details in the human figures, and the one on the right has spaghetti-arms which I really like. Uneven color across the entire coin is sort of distracting.
    Rating: 7/10

    Coin #7
    AE3, 16mm
    Constantine II
    Gloria Exercitus (single standard)
    coin 7.JPG
    Once again, so much potential but just not enough. It's obvious that the obverse is pretty ruined by the large black blotch, which is quite a shame because details are quite sharp underneath. The reverse is stunning. Extremely sharp details all around. You can see every detail of the soldier uniforms, and even the facial expressions on the men. Too bad about the black face, otherwise this would have been a great coin with lovely light green patina.
    Rating: 6/10

    Coin #8
    AE3, 17mm (oblong)
    Constantinopolis commemorative
    Victory on prow reverse
    coin 8.JPG
    This is wonderful all around. The obverse is a bit mushy, but overall good. Eyes and cuirass look great. The reverse is very very nice. The angel is extremely sharp, and you can see great details of the galley and shield very well. Excellent, even patina.
    Rating: 8/10

    Coin #9
    AE antoninianus, 17mm
    Claudius II
    Salus reverse
    coin 9.JPG
    This one is stunning. You can see a bit of overzealous mechanical cleaning gave Clavdiv a bit of a Rudolph-nose, but that was 100% my fault. Although it's unfortunate that none of the letters are visible on the undersized flan, I *think* it's Claudius II. The reverse really makes this for me. The female deity is superb and can't really get much better. 80% of intact silvering makes this one of the nicest Claudius II coins I've seen.
    Rating: 10/10

    Coin #10
    AE3, 18mm
    Romulus and Remus reverse
    coin 10.JPG
    This is a wowzer for sure. The details are just superb front and back. I absolutely love the extreme detail in the reverse, you can even see the little hands of the twins on the wolf's teats. Unfortunately, the unevenly colored patina brings this down somewhat, which is a true shame since this would have been a perfect coin in every respect otherwise.
    Rating: 9/10

    Average of all ratings: 6.4/10

    Value for the cost
    : Decent. Considering that one would have spent $51 on 9 identifiable coins, you're talking $5.60 a coin. The FTRs are pretty cheap but the glorius Claudius Salus and the lovely VRBS ROMA and Constantinople would make up for it. Overall, you get pretty much exactly your money's worth.

    Fun Factor: horrible. I had no fun doing this at all. The fine motor control needed, and eye strain, and the neck stress was absolutely not worth the results. After spending nearly 15 hours on 20 coins, I would have had more fun picking up used cigarette butts with my bare hands.

    Satisfaction: reasonable. There's nothing quite like taking a dirty, caked and unrecognizable piece of *something* and uncovering an XF+ quality, silvered Ant of Claudius II. However, the dissatisfaction from spending over 30 minutes just to reveal a slug, when expecting for something recognizable, pretty much evened out the joy from getting something reasonable.

    Recommendation: if you come into this knowing full well that you'll spend $51 on 10 cleanable coins with 20 being roaches, then you should buy. If you come into this knowing that you will spend a LOT of time and chemicals on the cleaning process, then you should buy.
    If you read the description and expect to pop coins in a bowl, come back a few days later, and toothbrush them to perfection, then you will be severely disappointed.
    Basically, if you know exactly what you're getting then this is a great purchase.

    : The quality of the cleanable coins was, in general, decent. I was able to raise good detail, sometimes excellent detail, but only with extreme effort. I'm sorry, there's just NO way that anybody can use DW and tools and get over half of the coins to look anywhere near presentable. I spent between 30 minutes and 2 hours per coin, which is a far cry from a quick rinse and scrub. I did not showcase the slugs (20 of them) because they're just ugly slugs.

    Final Word: Advertising these coins as a quick "rinse-and-flip" is false advertising. They all took extreme effort and chemicals, and were a nightmare to clean. Although the quality of the cleanable coins was overall good, the high expectations I had were completely unfulfilled, and I highly doubt I will buy these again. Maybe the "true premiums" just for the sake of another review, but I had absolutely no fun from this process.
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  3. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    When I got to that line I literally burst out laughing.
    lordmarcovan and hotwheelsearl like this.
  4. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    The only one worth the time/effort/money is that Claudius II Salus.
    You sir, are doing a great service to those new collectors who don't know any better. I wish you were around a few years ago when I started buying uncleaned lots. But then, if you were, I might have read your reviews and stayed away from ancients all together haha.
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  5. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I self-appointed myself as the whipping boy, taking punishment so that you don't have to...
    furryfrog02 likes this.
  6. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    Well, unfortunately I already did...
    But if someone else learns...and you have the money...good on ya :)
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  7. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    furryfrog02 likes this.
  8. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

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  9. Aaron Apfel

    Aaron Apfel Active Member

    I just bought 20 from this exact lot a few days ago. I haven't really found many other good dealers who sell uncleaned lots so decided to give them a go. I'm hoping I get at least a few good ones like you did, I'll probably make a similar review to this to let you all know how it goes.

    I noticed the seller states that they are never cherry picked, but there is no way of knowing (as the buyer) how many hands these coins passed through before he got them. It's also a bit hard to believe this when the seller also sells many identified coins haha. But I supposed i'll see for myself soon, to be honest if I get the same results as you I'd be happy. I guess it's also important to note that the coins in the picture of the lot on the site don't actually look that promising, so I suppose it's an honest sale if you are purchasing based on the picture and not so much the description. Thanks for letting us know your results!
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  10. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Glad you liked my writeup.

    Please make a post with your results when you're done with them! I sincerely hope you get 10/20 successful coins, with "half fully cleanable" as described...
    Aaron Apfel likes this.
  11. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I am glad that I have enough money to avoid coins like this. Low grade problem material has never made me happy, not even when I was a 10 year old beginner.

    As for the thrill if figuring things out, foreign languages have always been a weak spot in my brain. I hated the one year of Latin I took in high school. Reading those coins, when they have crisp lettering is enough of a challenge for me. I am a big fan of the Zander Klawans book which has been in print almost as long as I have been a collector.
  12. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Trajan Decius

    I learned my lesson the hard way. I got back into collecting in 2014 buying uncleaned hoards from a supplier in Britain. Often I would order 250-300 coins. Most were slugs. Generally about 75 that were identifiable. About 20 would be considered mildly "collectible" but not overtly so.

    I bought 4 hoards between 2014 and 2017 when I found CoinTalk. Before that I was just laboring away with olive oil, toothbrush, dental pick, liquid descaler (a big no-no). I've given away most of the identifiable ones. The slugs are in mayonnaise jars.
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  13. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...i never really heard of 'premium' uncleaned coins.....how would one know if they're premium w/o having some type of idea of what's under?....
  14. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Isn’t that the real question....
  15. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..shouldn't be a question at all....except maybe provenance of a certain hoard, i'd reckon....
  16. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That has to be it. If a good number of coins from the same hoard are in good shape, it would be a logical extension that the rest are as well, I suppose.

    In any case these coins that did clean up we’re generally pretty premium after all, so they got one thing right.
    ominus1 likes this.
  17. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    wel, that's good! :)....there's a certain excitment to uncleans....kinda like a lottery ticket...:)
  18. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Like a scratch off if that ticket was encased in a concrete block and it took you two hours to break it open...
    ominus1 and adelaide888 like this.
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