Question on toned coins

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by wasjr, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. wasjr

    wasjr New Member

    To make a long story a little shorter, I am an absolute NUBE to coins and since I am getting older, I have started taking an inventory of my Dad's coins that haven't seen the light of day for more than 50 years. As a stamp collector (no offense intended!), I know storage is critical to preservation, and I presume there is also the same concern for coins. I have coins in "sets" are in either different colored "Library of Coins" albums or dark blue folders (old Whitmans?) that state what the collection is. Then there are plastic tubes of coins which I assume are duplicates, but have not gotten to them yet. And lastly, there are envelopes of coins that are proofs and unc. sets. Separately, an occasional coin is in its own white holder, which I also haven't yet inventoried, but assume they are the more valuable ones. Even though these have always been stored in air conditioned space (not in a basement corner!), I see some sort of toning or oxidation even on the unc. sets (which look like they are sealed). In the stamp world, this is very bad, but it seems maybe not for coins. My questions are 1 - can/should they be cleaned? and how? and 2 - should I store them differently, and what is recommended? I expect that in 50+ years, technology has a better way. My intentions are to preserve, but would not be surprised if things hit the auction block when I am gone - my kids and grandkids are neither collectors nor nostalgic ;-( Thanks in advance for any advice.
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  3. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Welcome to the neighborhood!

    It's best that you don't try to clean any of your coins. At least for now, and until you've learned how to do it properly and safely. As for storing your coins, as long as the environment is kept cool and dry, there shouldn't be a problem. ~ Chris
  4. Heavymetal

    Heavymetal Supporter! Supporter

    FE5A2140-5BC3-4CB2-92AF-9383FBE36194.jpeg Welcome to CoinTalk
    The members here will give you great advice.
    Pictures are the key to save you time and money
    You could layout a group of items and someone will tell you if a closeup is needed.
    If you have a smart phone, this is my ‘setup’
    And when you post a picture use the ‘full image ‘ option
    capthank likes this.
  5. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Welcome to CT. Don't clean any coins, not even a light wiping.
    Two Dogs likes this.
  6. John Burgess

    John Burgess Well-Known Member

    metal (in general), but also coins, tone or oxidize. it's a fact of life. the only way to completely stop toning is by storing coins in an actual vacuum devoid of oxygen, air, contaminants, moisture, ect. ect. which is unrealistic to say the least.

    people hate toning, people love toning. there can be "too much" toning that is detrimental to the surface of a coin, but to reach that stage it is usually a harsh environment, or 100+ year old coins.

    Don't "clean" toning for any reason, the toning will return which will lead to more "cleanings". the cleaning agent are acidic that remove toning and while one treatment or two, might not disturb the mint luster, eventually it will, and it's an irreparable condition once it's damaged, so in my opinion, it's only necessarily done when toning has reached a terminal level and could start to damage the surface of a coin, and done as a "conservation/preservation".

    Toning is totally natural and totally normal for the lifespan of any metal, some metals are more reactive, some are less reactive, but all metals tone over time. Under the best storage conditions toning happens very slowly, or in bad storage conditions toning happens rapidly.

    there are means of care to maintain your collection storage conditions so that it slows toning to a crawl, but that comes with a cost, and you have to maintain it regularly and still toning will eventually occur, it just might take 100 years before you notice a change (toning) occurring.

    First off you say the coins are 50 years + old. the storage materials 50 years ago weren't all that great to slow toning and some are downright detrimental with PVCs. I would say you should change ALL of the storage materials, folders, albums, flips, 2x2 cardboard holders, plastic tubes for more modern and certainly PVC free options to take that guess work out. look for "archival quality" or at least PVC free.
    If going with cardboard 2x2s, I'd suggest buying a flat clinch stapler, and stainless steel or coated staples, it's worth the investment for not having to hand crimp each staple flat, or deal with rusted staples down the road.
    as far as mint or proof sets, some will say remove them from the packaging, some will say keep them intact in the packaging and don't mess with it. That's more of a personal decision, and at least for me, it's one I make on a case by case basis if the set isn't reacting well and looking bad by how it was stored. If it's fine and just toning some, I leave it alone.

    Depends on how much work you want to put into this, and if you are going to continue the hobby in which case you'd be checking on things quite regularly, or if you are looking for a way to put everything up for another 50 years and basically look at it every few years or so when the feeling strikes you.
    RonSanderson and Two Dogs like this.
  7. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Welcome to CT. If there is a friendly local Numismatist in your area don't be afraid to ask for some help. They are usually open to assist in assessing quality and collectability. I too agree, do not clean the coins unless they are ancients and even then I would hesitate. Did your father leave an inventory? If not, start one! Best of luck to you and again welcome to the dark side, CT for short.
  8. John Burgess

    John Burgess Well-Known Member

    same picture as before, or you still have the can of cream of chicken?
    Heavymetal and Kentucky like this.
  9. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Imaging is nice, but sometimes unnecessary. First thing would be to make an inventory. You could post that here and ask for info. You will probably get deluged with responses about pictures, but the fact is that many coins that have been collected/hoarded are only worth face value or melt (if gold or silver). Welcome to CT and hopes you have something very valuable!!!
  10. whopper64

    whopper64 Active Member

    I agree with everything that John Burgess has posted, especially replacing all storage containers, flips, etc. Those coins in OGP (original government packaging) you should probably leave them alone. Remember, get PVC free materials and replace the old as soon as you can. Then start your inventory. If none of the coins have been touched in 50 yrs. you may have some very valuable mint and proof sets if they date back to the 50's.
  11. Morgandude11

    Morgandude11 As long as it's Silver, I'm listening

    DO NOT, I repeat, Do not clean any coins. The toning process is normal, and natural.
  12. wasjr

    wasjr New Member

    Thank you all for the advice, and it seems consistent with leaving them alone except to use modern storage - which I will do for at least the more valuable issues as soon as possible. I'm actually relieved to hear cleaning would be detrimental! It wasn't something I was looking forward to do HAHA I did find that the only dark blue folders he had left were for foreign coins. All the others were empty, so he had already transferred the coins to the "Library Of Coins" type albums. They do have some sort of plastic strips holding the coins in place, but have no clue of the PVC content.

    And yes, I have started to inventory everything which was what prompted the question about toning - especially on the unc sets, which I was surprised to see. When I bought software to inventory my stamp collection, I bought the coin module at the same time.

    And finally, no, this collection for me is just nostalgia and conservation and not another hobby. I remember as a young kid, he would be going through his coins while I would be working on my stamps. It's odd to think that I am now twice as old as when he died! It's probably heresy to say here, but my stamp collection will probably take the rest of my life to get everything into albums and I would like to see that completed, plus I also collect trains - so I have little time for working on the coins!

    I have included a picture of one of the albums that the coins are kept in, plus another showing the proof sets look OK, but the unc sets are toning. These particular sets are better than some, but I have already inventoried the others that looked toned. The coins in tubes are much worse and will need more immediate transfer. I still haven't looked at the coins in the envelopes or white mounts yet.

    Thanks again.

    Attached Files:

    Kentucky likes this.
  13. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 Well-Known Member

    Hey guys question that help others as well. Are the Air-tite holders and "do it yourself holders ok ? I have Most of mine in them but they can get expensive.
  14. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    I think they are as OK as anything else. Moisture will permeate most any holder. I had a lovely slabbed Type 1 SLQ go black on me in the course of several years. Since then I take all my good coins and put them in a Ziplock bag and that goes into a Tupperware container. I haven’t noticed any dramatic change in my collection since doing that.
  15. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 Well-Known Member

    I Tape the sides of the really nice coins put in zippys (slab size) into box and into safe in dry room.
  16. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Where are you located?
  17. wasjr

    wasjr New Member

    I'm about 55-60 miles outside of Chicago
  18. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Perhaps any member who is in your area could give you some help by phone or in person, if you would.
  19. wasjr

    wasjr New Member

    I'm OK. It will just take some time ... they've been sitting in my closet for more than 50 years, a few months won't make that much difference ;-) Besides, I'm sure my Dad is looking down and saying "I told you that you should have paid more attention to coin collecting" HAHA

    With a site like this, plus the internet, there's not much I can't figure out. Well, maybe the 70 point rating system! But then again, I'm not too interested in rating but rather preserving. And unfortunately, none of my kids or grandkids seem to be interested in either the coins, stamps, or trains, so I will be someday looking down (or maybe up?) at a large auction ...
    Kentucky and SensibleSal66 like this.
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