When is "Cleaned" not Important

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Pocket Change, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. Pocket Change

    Pocket Change Coin Collector

    I've seen a some recent threads about cleaning coins. I thought I would add a twist to the subject.

    Obviously cleaning is very serious for higher quality coins.

    My Question:

    At what Grading Point is cleaning not really an issue any more or is it always an issue?

    For example, I regularly see AG-3 coins described as "cleaned". Does it really matter at that point? And how can you tell?

    This extends beyond AG-3 - for Barbers, Walkers, SLQ's, you can have VG coins where you can barely see the date and the whole "cleaning" question becomes more important.

    I dunno. Just throwing it out and see if it's interesting to anyone else.
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  3. fusiafinch

    fusiafinch Member

    Well, think about it........ would you like to own a coin in AG grade (heavily worn) that is bright and shiny? Or an AG coin with natural brown toning, indicative of its age and handling?

    The only time I'd clean a coin is if it has very unsightly ugly spots, or very dark toning (nearly black), or if its a shipwreck recovery or ancient coin with matted crud on it.

    Even if the case of unsightly spots, I'd like to remove the spots without damaging the underlying natural patina. That's difficult. Cleaning coins to increase their value is an art.

    If the coin is so common and worn that cleaning wouldn't matter anymore, why would I want to own the coin? Sell (or melt) it for bullion and use the money for other purchases.
  4. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    When is "Cleaned" not Important?

    When the coin is in an SGS holder.
  5. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    or.... when it is being sold raw on Ebay.

    Very best regards,
  6. Pocket Change

    Pocket Change Coin Collector

    Ok. Based on the first couple comments, I don't think I asked the correct question.

    Here are a couple of questions I would ask-

    If I have a 1919-S AG Walking Liberty. It is AG quality - I can barely see the date and the feathers on the eagle are long gone.

    Are there two extra grades now - cleaned and not cleaned?

    And if so, how much of a premium does a "non-cleaned" AG coin have over a cleaned one.

    I think it's important for readers to understand that I am talking about LOWER QUALITY coins - not F or above!!!
  7. GoldCoinLover

    GoldCoinLover Senior Member

    Here's a photo of a coin that has been lightly cleaned and the cleaning is so minor its not important. Cleaning is sometimes also overlooked on older coins, if this was a more modern gold coin most likely it would have been bagged/not graded/geniune.

  8. pappy-o

    pappy-o coinoisseur

    I've collected antiques for years and personally the patina adds personalty and character to items , but coins are different since a very dark patina hides the details in the coin, since I prefer patina I'll leave my older coins alone maybe it just comes down to personal preferance. I look at it like its my collection and so I make the choices & other folks make theirs.
  9. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    When coins are that worn, the toning might actually show the design better than if the toning were removed. Can you post a picture of the coin for discussion?

    Very best
  10. k9brain

    k9brain Junior Member

    Commons in low grade are considered junk silver and it doesn't or shouldn't matter. Although a coin rubbed raw with silver polish is less attractive than a coin that's been washed to remove any accumulated filth. IMHO

    For key dates and other coins that start at high premiums in AG, it matters in all grades since you want an accurate descriptor to determine if you want the coin and how much you are willing to pay for it.
  11. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

    All raw coins before 1970 were cleaned..... 99.99% anyway.
  12. TomCorona

    TomCorona New Member

    All raw coins before 1970 were cleaned..... 99.99% anyway.

    Well, I guess they should be all thrown away.
  13. danfierce70

    danfierce70 Member

    I think a dealer explained it to me the best way possible... It's like antique furniture... If you have a desk that the outside finish is bad, but it's in otherwise good, useable shape, but you decide to refinish it. You lose two-thirds of your clientele. One person may want it for its original finish, while another may want to restore it themselves, and the one that buys it is the one who only has time for pretty things, and even they might not want to pay a good price for your work. Does it make sense the way I put it? (I can't exactly remember how the dealer said it.)
  14. Treashunt

    Treashunt The Other Frank

    You say: "Are there two extra grades now - cleaned and not cleaned?"

    Absolutely not.

    Grade is who much wear, cleaned/not cleaned is a condition.

    So, to answer, grade the coin, then add the adjective: cleaned (not cleaned is not normaly mentioned.)
  15. Pocket Change

    Pocket Change Coin Collector

    Actually instead of "non-cleaned", you usually see "Original" or the one I love, "Crusty"!

    Concerning tone and patina. One of the things I dislike about coppers are that so many are almost black. I find it very hard to appreciate a coin where you have squint and tilt it to make out the details.
  16. vipergts2

    vipergts2 Jester in hobby of kings

    I would think it would come down to how its cleaned. Brightly polished or attacked with a brillo pad could even kill an AG coin. Lightly cleaned to help show the little remaing detail, to me is no big deal.
  17. Freddypm

    Freddypm Member

    I am still laughing at this one!:)
  18. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector Supporter

    IMO, "cleaned" ALWAYS has an impact on the value of a coin.
    The question is 'How much of an impact?'

    As a general statement, the greater the rarity (and demand), the less the impact.
    But I don't think this really kicks in until you reach 6-figure coins.
  19. Cloudsweeper99

    Cloudsweeper99 Treasure Hunter

    I think cleaning is less of an issue on circulated [say, XF or below] coins that are not key dates. But the coin market seems to disagree. I think the frenzy against cleaning is more of a shared delusion among collectors than a real problem. Obvious hairlines on any coin detracts from appearance, but a light cleaning to me is no big deal. However, since it impacts the market price of the coin, it becomes a big deal.
  20. Vess1

    Vess1 CT SP VIP

    I see what you're getting at. I would say it really shouldn't matter all that much on an AG coin. To get to that point, the coin is already so heavily worn that a light cleaning can't do much harm to it. Some may argue that, "well, then it doesn't have an original surface!" The thing is, an AG coin doesn't have much if any original surface left anyway. The original surface is typically long gone. Just try weighing one. Depending on what it is, an AG coin can be fractions of a gram to well over a gram underweight from the surfaces being worn off.

    Here's a AU50 1839-O $2.5 Improp. cleaned that would typically go for several thousand, but has been bid up to $750 and this is where it will likely end.


    That's a typical price adjustment. I don't know that the same percentage price adjustment could be used on an AG coin. You're already at the bottom. I guess it would depend on how old it is. A AG Liberty seated type might not matter as much as say something from the 1700s, if a harsh cleaning was obvious. Hard to come up with a definitive answer besides the fact that things are worth whatever someone is willing to pay. It's only a matter of find that someone.
  21. jello

    jello Not Expert★NormL®

    that for sure SGS whizzed them before there encapsulated anyway!
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