Uncleaned Coins - When Are You 100% Sure It's a "Slick"?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jfp7375, May 19, 2022.

  1. Jfp7375

    Jfp7375 Member

    Hi Folks,

    I know uncleaned lots are not often recommended on here, but I bought a cheap lot for fun. A couple of the coins cleaned up nicely, a couple are clearly junk, but these ones I'm a little stumped on.

    Some of these confusing coins show detail, but it is obscured/smoothed over. What I can't tell is if more soaking/cleaning will reveal more, or if these are just slicked and I'm down to the bronze already. The coins are very thin already which makes me skeptical that there is any significant encrustation left on them.

    Below are 5 of these coins along with a cleaned coin (boxed in blue) for comparison. The one boxed in red is the uncleaned one that shows the most promise - you can faintly see the bust and the legend's outline on the obverse, and the faint image of a person + legend on the reverse (shown here). The one in the top left is no more than 1mm thick, pretty sure it is slick, so I scratched it gently with a dental pick and sure enough it exposed metal right away.


    Below is a shot comparing the thickness (or thinness, rather) of the 2 boxed coins - uncleaned coin on the right. I don't think the picture does it justice - the uncleaned coin is definitely a bit thinner as is.

    Just curious if these coins are a lost cause? I am familiar with all of the various cleaning options from guides and videos online, but few talk about how to judge when your coin is a slick or when to give up on them.

    Ryro likes this.
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  3. Jfp7375

    Jfp7375 Member

    Bump - would really appreciate any advice! can post more pictures if helpful
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    ..i'd say lost cause....
    Jfp7375 likes this.
  5. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Uncleaned coins, as they are available these days, are tough. Many of us here started with them and they were a fantastic way to get into the hobby and learn about late roman coins. However as the years passed, the availability of unclean coins worth spending time on has dwindled. Many unclean coins available now, especially on ebay, are just someone's lost causes or culls. As the quality of unlceans is pretty bad these days, most who have collected for awhile will tell you to skip them and spend your resources on fewer better coins. I enjoyed them... so see the fun in them and still think they are a good place to learn but you have to have realistic expectations on the final outcome (common, later, usually rougher quality coins... or many times nearly featureless).

    All of that said, it's hard to tell from photos if you're down to the patina or if there's still material there to remove. Additionally, thickness can't be used to determine much as coinage increased and reduced in weight/thickness many times. Many later coins are very thin. Your blue box coin looks to be a Constantinian coin (BEATA TRANQVILLITAS or variation of reverse) from Lyons from around the 320s Ad. The red box coin appears to be a later coin (likely Valentinian or Valens) with likely a SECVRITAS REIPVBLICAE reverse. As this coin is much later, it will be thinner and of lower quality production. The best way to tell if there's any more work that can be done is to look at the surfaces through magnification. This is likely the reason for the lack of comments is that there is not likely much improvement that can be made and the surfaces are difficult to evaluate from these photos.

    We may be able to help you identify some of them with additional well-lit photos of the front and the back, if you'd like. Anyway good luck, use these as a learning opportunity but if you're looking for nicer coins in the end, it's worth buying them outright as many of these types are very affordable in good condition.
    Last edited: May 20, 2022
    Carl Wilmont, Jfp7375 and ominus1 like this.
  6. Jfp7375

    Jfp7375 Member

    I think I agree but I'll just soak them forever and see what happens I guess. Might try some of the more aggressive methods just as an experiment.

    This is helpful perspective thanks friend. To clarify, the BEATA TRANQVILLITAS in blue is a cleaned coin from my collection - and yes it is a thin coin.

    Basically my question was: if the uncleaned coin (in red) is already slightly thinner than the thin cleaned coin (in blue), then it seems unlikely there's any hard dirt or encrustation concealing more detail. I'm afraid the smooth/worn detail you can see now is all that's there, and just wanted to confirm if it would be a waste of time to continue working on them
    ominus1 likes this.
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