Toning Ancient coins

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ArtDeco, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. Tejas

    Tejas Well-Known Member

    I think terms like "artificial" or "natural" toning are misleading. Toning is a chemical process regardsless of it being the result of a coin lying in a cabinet for 100 years (the desired "old cabinet toning") of having been in a sealed container with a hard boiled egg for 30 minutes. The only difference may be the composition of the chemicals and the time of exposure.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    I think some of the concern and desire to differentiate is both durability and desirability. What most would call natural toning takes more time to achieve even if doing it intentionally, but produces a pleasing, long lasting color. Most toning produced very quickly will change colors over then next few years and may not be as desirable of coloring.
  4. Voulgaroktonou

    Voulgaroktonou Well-Known Member

    Yep - I sympathize. Except I end up in the bathroom trying to recall why I am there.
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  5. sand

    sand Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting point.
    My personal preference, is that I prefer not to have an ancient coin, which has an artificial tone or patina. It doesn't matter to me, if the artificial tone or patina, has the same chemical composition, and is physically identical in every way, to natural cabinet toning or patina. To me, the toning or patina of a coin, is part of the history of the coin. I prefer not to have an ancient coin, if the history of the coin, is that, the coin was artificially toned or patinated. I would prefer to have a stripped coin. This is just my personal preference.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
  6. The Meat man

    The Meat man Well-Known Member

    It's an interesting question. I know that there are plenty of collectors who view artificial toning like tooling - an unacceptable alteration of the coin.

    For myself, of course I would prefer any toning to be "natural". But hypothetically, if there were a means of artificially toning a coin so that it would be indistinguishable from natural toning, I don't know that I'd care all that much.
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  7. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Much toning on silver comes from sulfur, whether newspaper, envelopes, or soil. So, you can apply sulfur in small amounts to get in minutes what would usually take decades. Same thing, shorter time. Idk if you’d call that artificial or not.
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  8. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah, but on silver high doses of sulphur in a short reaction time react differently that low doses of sulfur over a long period. That is how you get the "burned" looking coins on Ebay of AT coins. Those of us who know how AT is done incorrectly or correctly can easily see the difference.

    I just hope toned silver ancients do not start bringing premiums for ancients, then we will get the same idiots burning US coins doing the same in our area.

    Where many fake toners make the mistake, (besides abnormal toning), is they apply toning to surfaces unable to naturally tone. That is an easy, dead giveaway. Concentrate on surfaces is the best defense I know of. Only original "skins" of melted silver will ever tone naturally, but fake toning can be forced upon any silver surface. Lustrous surfaces are always worth a premium, regardless of color or not.
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  9. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter about "intentional" vs "accidental" :)
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  10. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ...with malice...:D
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  11. ArtDeco

    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

    For ancients, what type of toning detail would determine if a coin was done artificially or naturally?

    Are most naturally toned coins gonna have toning around the inscriptions of a coin , like say on an Roman Imperial denarius? Also toning that outlines the strike details?

    You mentioned AT coins will have toning in the most uncommon oddest areas of a coin, which areas do you think fit that bill?
  12. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I egg-toned a couple ancient coins and got a rather brilliant blue fringe on one, but the other one had a funky technicolor. I don't have them on hand, but here are pics of the Philippines peso that I toned with egg as well.

    If I left it in about 10 minutes less, it would have looked much more natural. As is, it's got that "burnt" look.
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  13. The Meat man

    The Meat man Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, the toning I am talking about (and prefer) is the dark/black type which beautifully highlights the details of a coin. Not the iridescent rainbow-type. Like this:
    Screenshot 2022-06-23 171506.png
    Photo from CNG. Not my coin (I wish!)

    I much prefer this look to the iridescent toning (although that can be beautiful as well.)
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  14. ArtDeco

    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

    So if I ever do decide to tone a coin I would carefully select them (ones that have had the typical cleaning done on them to remove the original patina) and do the manilla envelope thing by the window sill‌, this should be the same process as those old cabinet tonings, trace amounts of sulfur in the materials reacting with the coin slowly over time just like the old days. It shouldn't matter if it was intentionally done or "intentionally" stored that way, the result is more natural and a slow process compared to AT which involves large amounts of sulfur or chemicals to rapidly change he whole surface of the coin.

    Once I see the right toning that I like, I will give it an acetone/cold baking soda bath to neutralize any particles of sulfur on it and then put the coin in a coin flip to store in my Lighthouse Intercept coin flip box.
    I got it all figured out. :)
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
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  15. The Meat man

    The Meat man Well-Known Member

    How long do you suppose that would take? It can't be terribly much faster than "old cabinet" toning can it?
  16. ArtDeco

    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

    Well, from what I've read it can take maybe a few weeks to a few months depending on the humidity and temperature, the warmer the temperature, the faster the reaction will run through it's course technically speaking.
  17. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Although my egg example was excessive, why not toss in an egg container for like 5-10 minutes? Does the same thing as the acidic envelope, chemically, I think.

    Is there really, truly a difference between taking months or minutes to do, effectively the same thing?
  18. ArtDeco

    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

    The difference I believe is the rate in which the silver is reacting, with the envelope method there should be a specific type of light toning (that can change colors) that is more subtle than a coin that would change color more rapidly in the presence of a more substantial amount of sulfur the coin is exposed to with the mashed egg, liver of sulfur or other chemical methods.

    I mentioned earlier on this thread that I had done an experiment where I used liver of sulfur in cold water, with cold water the reaction doesn't start on the silver but as I added small amounts of boiling water into the mix one at a time, the jewelry started turning from a orange golden hue to a sharp light blue to a charcoal black color, I was able to do a variety of colors by slowing the reaction down on pinch at a time when I added the small amounts of boiling water.

    The coins develop subtle toning in a variety of colors due to the exposure of the trace amounts of sulfur in the envelopes unlike the instant blackening you get with something like mashed eggs or liver of sulfur+boiling water.
    From the photos I've seen from the envelope method, the toning is more natural looking and most I've seen that have had the egg or chemical method done tended to look more "exaggerated".
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
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  19. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I’m gonna try an egg for 5 minutes on a silver coins and see what happens. My peso was in the sauce for 30 mikes. Will report back later…
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  20. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Yesterday's cabinet toning..... or scrambled eggs??

    Is it Live or is it Memorex??

    When you buy a coin I guess you never know...

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  21. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    I very much agree with this. Any experienced coin restorer knows methods to (re)tone silver coin. Even the so desired 'cabinet toning' can be created, if you know how it works.

    Methods to detect a recently repatinated coin are smelling and even tasting.

    Repatinating with e.g. liver of sulphur is easily detected, if you know what to look for (brown / blue patina). Artificial patina caused by exposure to heated elemental sulphur is also (yellow / golden / black / grey patina).

    I openly share my cleaning methods (search my post history), contrary to most coin restorers. Though this results in less coins sent for restoration, I hope it will result in less coins being destroyed by inadequate cleaning methods (e.g. boiling the coin in sodium bicarbonate + aluminium foil which dissolves the desired silver sulphide patina; immersing a silver coin in ammonia which dissolves the copper; repatinating a coin stripped of its patina with chlorides, which (though resulting in a pretty evenly grey patina), is actually harmful and will result in pitting, etc.)

    I like to share this example: a heavily encrusted 10 litra of Hieron II, with a thick layer of silver chlorides (horn silver):
    Hieron II uncleaned.jpeg
    The coin was then immersed in sodium thiosulphate, which dissolved the encrustations:
    Hieron II cleaned.jpg
    However, overall, the coin became a bit dull-grey (not unpleasant, by the way). Is this repatinating? I would disagree: a basic understanding of the cleaning process learns that this is in fact a very thin layer of Na3AgS2O32, a relatively stable (and thus protective) patina.
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