Featured The Slabbed (NGC/PCGS) AT-QT (Artificial/Questionable Toning) Thread

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Lehigh96, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    There has been much discussion on the forum lately about how easy it is to artificially tone coins and get them past the graders at NGC & PCGS. I contend that it is very difficult to get an AT/QT coin in a top tier slab whereas others think they are quite prevalent. I have decided to start this thread to see if we can help settle the debate and have a little fun in the process. Now, don't get mad, but this can't be a free for all, we gotta have some rules to the game, so here they are.

    The Rules to the AT/QT game:

    1) ONE COIN AT A TIME: We can't be discussing more than one coin at the same time, so if you have a coin that you want to include in the thread, please be patient and wait your turn. The rule for whose turn is next will be discussed a little later.

    2) 1 POINT FOR MAJORITY RULES in 24 HOURS: Once a coin is posted, respondents may either deem the coin AT/QT (artificial/questionable toning) or NT/MA (Natural/Market Acceptable Toning). After 24 hours, we will tally up how many there are for each side and majority rules. If more than 50% of the respondents say the coin is AT/QT, the person who posted that coin gets a point.

    3) ZERO POINTS FOR MORGAN DOLLARS & ASEs: In the thread that started this debate, it was discussed that the large majority of AT coins reside in these two series. So you are welcome to post a Morgan or ASE, but you will not receive any points for these coins.

    4) WHO IS NEXT?: If you intend to post an AT/QT coin in the thread, please indicate this in your response. This way the next poster will be the first respondent of the current coin who indicates they would like to post a coin. Each time a new coin is posted, the position of next poster is erased and the first person who responds and indicates they have a coin will have the honor.

    5) US Coins only: Like Morgan Dollars and ASEs, you can post one, but you get no points.

    OK, I will start the game with a coin that was beautiful but just too expensive to keep considering I thought it to be AT/QT

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  3. ddddd

    ddddd Member


    Might be heat induced; it doesn’t look like album toning or roll toning and I’m not sure what else would cause that color on a business strike clad dime (window/garage toned?).

    Did you send it in? It’s also interesting to note NGC did not see it as star worthy (I believe that is a generation when stars were already used), but stars are less common on non-Morgans.

    I can post a future installment unless someone has a good example.
    Omegaraptor likes this.
  4. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    I'll go with NT.
    Penna_Boy likes this.
  5. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

  6. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Variety Collector

  7. heavycam.monstervam

    heavycam.monstervam Outlaw Trucker & Coin Hillbilly

    I could go either way on this one. But....I just cant fathom how it wouldve toned like that un- intentionally. Clad toners arent my strong suit though
    coinman1234 likes this.
  8. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    I vote questionable, because I basically never see those shades of green on a clad coin.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
    thomas mozzillo likes this.
  9. Mainebill

    Mainebill Wild Bill

    My vote is questionable. I don’t see how a clad coin would turn this color without help
    thomas mozzillo and Penna_Boy like this.
  10. Pickin and Grinin

    Pickin and Grinin Well-Known Member

    Pastels do form on clad coinage, But I would have to say QT it doesn't look natural.
    Cheech9712 likes this.
  11. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    It could very easily be NT, and it could very easily be AT. And absolutely nobody, with the possible exception of the original owner of the coin, could say one way or another with any degree of certainty. The only thing anybody can do is guess.

    So far, there have been 4 responses that question the toning because they haven't seen or can't imagine how a coin could tone that color. Well, if one hasn't seen coins of that color/s or with that color/s on them then you simply haven't seen any. But just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, cant' exist. And if you can't imagine how it got that color, I would have to ask why not ? I mean all it takes for any coin to tone any color, in a perfectly natural way, is for the coin to be exposed the right contaminants in the air, and/or environmental conditions.

    To start, these are 2 different examples of colors visible to the naked eye in the light spectrum, presented in 2 different charts.

    rainbow 2.jpg rainbow.jpg

    And as you can see the color that is on that coin is present in both examples.

    When it comes to toning people talk about color progression on a regular basis. And, some if not many seem to think that when it comes to toning that the colors on a coin have to follow that given progression, as represented in the charts above. This is simply not true. The reason it's not true is quite simple, it's because given contaminants (which can be read as different chemicals in the air) cause or create different colors on a coin. Some will cause reds, some will cause yellows, some greens, etc etc. But if a given contaminant is not present, then those colors simply not be seen. 1, 2, 3 or even more colors may be and can be completely skipped when it comes to toning.

    And, if at one stage of a coins life, the coin is exposed to one set of contaminants causing given colors, and then the coin is sold or passed to another owner, it is exposed to a completely different set of contaminants causing given but different colors. So again colors can be skipped.

    And, even if the coin is held by the same owner, if the conditions change in any way, then the colors of the toning can and will change. All of this is true because all toning is caused and created by what the coin is exposed to including temperature, moisture, and contaminants, and storage methods. And if any of them change then the toning changes.

    Point is, there is no such thing as a given color progression in natural toning. Various colors can be and are produced on coins in a haphazard manner. Sure, color progression may happen given the right conditions, but there is absolutely nothing that dictates that it must happen !

    So, all that is required for a given coin to tone a given color - is the right conditions. And given the right conditions even those shades of greens and blues, seen on the coin above, will be produced - in a completely natural way - NT.

    Or, put the coin in a sealed box, pump in the right gasses, with the right temperature and moisture content, for the right amount of time, and the exact same colors will be produced on the coin, also in a completely natural way, but much faster.

    And absolutely nobody will be able to tell one from the other because both coins were toned the same colors by exactly the same things, with the only differences being intent and the time frame involved.

    Sure, gassing the coins is artificial, of that there is no doubt. But the results are identical, in every way, to natural toning because the exact same contaminants and conditions are what created the toning.

    Now another example of what some call natural toning is album toning. Nobody ever calls it anything but natural toning ! But, if somebody buys an old album, deliberately places coins in it, stores it an extra warm place with a bit of added humidity, and before long you can have some beautifully toned coins.

    Is that natural or artificial toning ? And can you tell one from the other ? The answer to the second question is absolutely not because they are identical and caused by exactly the same things. Just like the coins in the box are.

    But the answer to the second question, that's gonna depend on whom you ask. Some will say it's completely natural, others will say it's artificial because it was done deliberately and intentionally accelerated.

    Absolutely nobody doubts that old albums are used like this to tone coins. People post about it on a regular basis. Articles in coin magazines have even been written about it. Some collectors even brag about doing it and the success they have with it. But mention a sealed box with gasses pumped in, heat and humidity duplicated, and people will scoff and doubt and say it doesn't work, can't work. But it absolutely does work, and very, very, well. Just like with the old albums the only thing you are doing is duplicating the same conditions that natural toning occurs under.

    And if you think you can tell one from the other, well then all you're doing is fooling yourself because you don't want to believe it's that easy. But it is that easy. And it is done every day and has been being done for years ! But in a controlled manner so as to not wreck the toner market. You don't kill the goose that lays gold eggs !

    Everybody out there who owns beautiful toned coins, you can bet that some of the ones you own were toned artificially. But neither you nor anybody else, excepting the person who made them, is ever going to be able to identify them.

    So the answer to the question for the coin above, nobody knows. It could easily be NT or AT. But you can guess, and you may even be right, regardless of your answer.
    Insider, Sardar, Bob Evancho and 8 others like this.
  12. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    I am also voting questionable. Just my opinion, but it just seems very unlikely that off gassing in the crappy mint plastic packaging would produce such an even, consistent thickness on the surface, and not a mottled, spotty look. When I look at proof sets, it's not unusual, to see specks of lint, or other very small pieces of junk that gets stuck inside the plastic case. You would think that those particles would also show up in darker or untoned spots on the coin (like they have on some of my older proof sets.

    Once again, it's just my opinion and I can't prove it. It just smells fishy to me
  13. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    @Lehigh96 or any other metallurgist/Chemist. What are the corrosion by products that form toning on 75Cu25Ni alloys? The reactivity of Cu and Ag coins with S and other materials isn't too hard to grasp, but what is going on with surfaces of a toned clad alloy? I always wondered about this
    George McClellan likes this.
  14. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    And if it were gassed before it was ever submitted and slabbed ? Gassing coins already in slabs is only one way it is done, and the least common way. Most of it is done when the coins are raw.
  15. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Just to clarify, I used the term Off Gassing to refer to the formation of VOCs in newly manufactured organic compounds like mint packaging. Similar to a new car smell, or the odor when you open a package that contains something made of vinyl. It was not referring to using gasses to accelerate or artificially tone coins

    Sorry for the confusion
  16. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Sorry for my misunderstanding.
  17. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    I'm not sure what @GDJMSP 's final conclusion was, but if we call it NT, then QC still takes the round.

    I believe we have passed 24 hours. I'll start with the following:

    TJC likes this.
  18. Lehigh96

    Lehigh96 Toning Enthusiast

    If I just saw the obverse I would be inclined to say NT, but the reverse just shows too many indicators of AT. The colors aren’t right, the elevation chromatics aren’t right, and the coin looks as though it is the victim of improper storage.

    While I can’t say definitively that the coin is AT, IMO, it clearly belongs in the QT camp.

  19. CheckItTwice

    CheckItTwice New Member

    I believe it was stored improperly, but NT for me.
  20. Duke Kavanaugh

    Duke Kavanaugh The Big Coin Hunter

  21. dwhiz

    dwhiz Collector Supporter

    Thankfully I'm no good with color. I hate to say say it neither coins look good to me.
    I have to admit I've bought a couple, well because I liked the way looked.
    Please keep posting as I may find one I like.
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
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