Yes, your coin has been cleaned. Yes, including that one.

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Marsden, Jan 30, 2023.

  1. Marsden

    Marsden Well-Known Member

    Okay, maybe not late-model proof sets still sealed from the mint, and maybe not that gold coin, but who knows? 100 year old silver coins are not bright white, unless perhaps they were stored in a hyberbaric chamber with Michael Jackson, and just look what happened to him.


    (Yes, I know hyperbaric isn't really what we want, more like a total vacuum. Maybe MJ should have tried that.)
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  3. Marsden

    Marsden Well-Known Member



    Beautiful coins! 140 years old.
    Nope, uh-uh, sorry.
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  4. green18

    green18 Unknown member Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    There probably ain't been a coin (blast white) from that era that ain't been messed with in some way or another. Cleaning coins was a very popular thing to do in that era.
  5. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer A Caretaker, can't take it with me

    I believe I've got a recollection of widespread encouragement in the days of yore to clean coins.
    Granted, I could be mistaken, so maybe we should ask Keith Richards, since he's old enough to remember every word ever spoken by anyone who's ever lived. ;)
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  6. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Agreed.... Most any coin from the 19th century has been cleaned. Just was the way our predecessors did things. And being that I am an old school collector, I freely admit that I prefer a blast white coin that display luster over a dark toned coin... But then I like new sparkling paint on my 70's muscle cars too!
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  7. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    So what? It doesn't matter if the coin was cleaned. It only matters if the coin was damaged by the cleaning, i.e. improperly cleaned.

    Really the terminology is just bad. People focus on the word cleaning and not on the word improper. But even still, the fact that it was an improper cleaning that damaged the coin is irrelevant. It only matters that the coin was damaged. It doesn't really matter how the damage occurred. A better term to use instead of improper cleaning might just be something simple like damaged surfaces.
  8. Cherd

    Cherd Junior Member Supporter

    And then there's the word "damaged".

    If the threshold is "alteration of original surfaces", then the nearly unavoidable oxidation process is also damage. Many collectors have fallen into the mindset that a blackened, 100-year-old, silver coin is "original". But the truth of the matter is that the original surface of that coin has been thoroughly altered.

    Considering that the coins are damaged either way, I'd prefer the version that is as aesthetically pleasing as possible (blast white). At the very least, this version provides the most realistic representation of what the coin actually looked like when it was minted.

    Of course, I'd ultimately prefer an example that had been sealed in a vacuum chamber since the second that it was minted, but that is not an option :(.
  9. psuman08

    psuman08 Active Member

    While I agree that many older coins have been cleaned in some way, I disagree that 100 year old coins cannot be bright white. I have seen lots of silver dollars that have not been "cleaned" that are bright white.
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  10. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Just because a coin is white doesn’t mean it was cleaned. Go buy a roll of anything from the bank. In a hundred years have a grandchild open that roll. The end coins may be tarnished but those inside will be just like the day they were minted. You won’t know it but your grandkids will.
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  11. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    I like all Morgans.
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  12. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Sorry, that is not true.

    The 19th century equivalents of the “hyperbaric chamber” were the U.S. mint bags which housed Morgan Dollars deep in the vaults of the U.S. treasury. The coins did not see the light of the day for many decades, and they were piled up among other silver dollars. The result when they were token out of their bags was that they were as bright as they day they were minted.

    If you want proof, look at the GSA sale dollars. The government did not clean them.

    I’ll agree with you about that 19th century coins that were released for circulation, but the situation with the Morgan Dollars was different.
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  13. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Not quite. There's as white as the day they were released and then there's - not quite but almost, nowhere near, and very toned, some even colorfully.

    But there are and were none as bright as the day they were released. All coins begin to tone the instant after they are struck.

    As for the general gist of the thread, this is the answer.

  14. Marsden

    Marsden Well-Known Member

    Agreed. The impetus for this thread (and the AT one, even) is seeing people say "if the coin has been cleaned, it's worth only bullion value" which is patently ridiculous. It sends newbs into a frenzy of fear that perhaps there has been imperceptible cleaning on a given coin at some time in the past. When in fact that's not uncommon at all--what matters (to me, anyway) is whether or not the coin was damaged in the process.

    Of course, the TPGs aren't always helpful. It's useful when they point out striations which show up under a loupe but I've seen 'cleaned' coins where that isn't the case. Like most of us, I naturally assume they've found something I can't. But in that case, I sometimes perceive a buying opportunity.
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  15. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Cleaning a coin IS and ALWAYS HAS BEEN perfectly acceptable in the numismatic community for over 200 years. 80% or more of all coins given clean grades and slabbed by NGC, PCGS, ANACS, and ICG have been cleaned at least once over the course of the coin's life. And it is never noted on the slab that it has been cleaned.

    There is cleaning - which is perfectly acceptable and even considered by most to be a good thing in a whole lot of cases. Cleaning has saved tens of millions of coins from irreparable harm and or certain destruction. And on more than a few cases cleaning has greatly increased a coin's value. Sometimes by as much as 200-300%.

    And there is harsh/improper cleaning - which is unacceptable and considered by most to be a bad thing in almost all cases. And it has ruined tens of millions of coins by causing irreparable harm to them.

    As Jaelus said above, the primary reason for all the misunderstanding is the incorrect use of terminology by just about everyone. People, collectors, dealers, and the TPGs (on their labels) say Cleaned - when what they should be saying is Harsh/Improperly Cleaned.

    If you look up the PCGS codes for their slab labels when they label a coin as cleaned this is what you will see -

    92|N-2 Cleaned – surface damage due to a harsh, abrasive cleaning

    All the other TPGs do the same thing.

    Using the word Cleaned on a slab label is nothing more than a contraction being used to save room the label. And people, when they are talking and or writing doing do the same thing.

    Short and sweet, this incorrect use of terminology is akin to saying Bad when what you should be saying is Good. It really is just that simple.

    Cleaning = Good - or perfectly acceptable
    Harsh/Improper Cleaning = Bad - unacceptable
  16. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    Good Lord. That is admirable gobbledygobbledness.

    I really don't understand your persistence in presenting a numismatic Treatise on various numismatic issues, that, when subjected to sentence diagramming, offered nothing of import or enlightenment, and is at a minimum suspect as to the actual level of fact being opined.
  17. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    There, I fixed it for you. :)
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  18. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    I disagree with the whole premise that an "old" silver coin that is still bright white has to have had something done to it. Below have been in my possession for 50 years. I pulled the second two from circulation myself, and grandpa obtained the first one around 1945. Nothing has ever been done to them, all pushing 60-80 years old. My pictures suck but they're every bit as "bright white" as the 1884-CC posted above. If they had been pulled straight from the bank, and more conscientiously stored, they would look even better. We can quibble about all the little details of how someone defines "bright white" and "toning" and etc ad nauseam, but with proper storage these coins will still look like this another 50 years from now. Blanket statements like this deserve some push back.

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  19. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Innocent until proven guilty...not cleaned until evidence of cleaning is shown...and uncirculated unless wear is shown
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  20. Marsden

    Marsden Well-Known Member

    I would not quibble for a moment about the exact definition of 'bright white' etc. But what I'd want to know is what constitutes 'proper storage' (or 'conscientiously stored') in your case, and separately: how could it be that silver exposed to the elements fails to tarnish over a period of a century or so?

    The obvious example of sterling flatware comes to mind. People keep specific materials in their silverware storage cabinets the express purpose of which is to absorb sulphur and moisture, in hopes of retarding the development of tarnish. These have to be replaced periodically, and even then are not completely effective.

  21. KBBPLL

    KBBPLL Well-Known Member

    I don't want to go down a rabbit hole. You see my evidence. I disagree that any coin like the 1884-CC you posted had to have been cleaned in order to look like that.
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