Cleaning Coins Can Be Profitable

Bev and I bought a small, older house as a rental back in the mid-80’s and recently had a renter move out on us with the place so trashed that I’m going to just tear it down. As part of the clean-up, I had to haul loads and loads of garbage out and found coins scattered all over the place.

Needless to say, they were filthy and, alas, there didn’t seem to be any ‘collectables’ in the bunch.

On the note of cleaning collectables: DON’T! Don’t clean them. You will probably decrease their value if you do. If you’re really serious about a coin that needs cleaned because some soda was spilled on it, just use warm water and a mild detergent, but no abrasives or acids. Pat them dry with a soft cloth.

One of the problems that I faced was that there was a possibility of Haunta Virus from all of the mouse droppings in the house. (I wore a face-mask all the time I was in the house.) Once I got a bunch of the coins home, I spread them put on a screen of ¼ inch hardware cloth, rinsed them with a hose and left them out in the sun to dry.

This only took off the surface dirt, so then I put them in some vinegar and water to soak. After about 24 hours, they were in pretty good shape.

Some of the other suggestions I’ve found are to use coke (which leaves them sticky…), taco sauce, tomato sauce, bbq sauce, lemon juice (they’re all acidic…) and. Olive oil (takes several weeks).

I eventually got most of them cleaned, rolled and back in circulation. We ended up with over a hundred dollars from that exercise. I still have a couple of large jars of pennies to go through and finish. Maybe sometime this winter, when I find myself unable to get out and do anything except shovel snow.

Here are some general hints on coin cleaning:
· While commercial coin polish can be purchased from coin dealers or hobby shops and this may bring out the luster in your coin, it is still not advisable to clean a valuable coin.

· Do not use abrasives on a coin as this will ruin their value. Always use a soft cloth or tissue to clean the coin. Stick to gentle cleaning if the coin is valuable or if it holds special significance to you. If not, a quick and easy way to add shine is to use a pencil eraser and rub the dirt away.(See the hints below).

· Coin collectors and dealers rarely clean coins, but when they do they very carefully use either specially formulated “dips” or ultrasonic tanks. Dips are chemical products in which you dip a coin and they can be purchased from coin dealers, jewelers, or hobby supply stores. Ultrasonic tanks clean coins using sound waves in a water bath. Keep in mind that these methods can reduce a coin’s value just as easily as other cleaning methods, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

· Learn to appreciate a coin’s patina, the thin layer of tarnish (the effects of corrosion and oxidation) that develops on coins over many years. Collectors value coins with attractive patinas, and the patina actually serves to protect the surface of the coin, so it’s usually better not to remove tarnish or try to make the coin look shinier.

· You may want to wash the coin with mild dish soap. It will take most of the dirt off, yet leave the protective patina in place.

· If coin is not valuable you can use taco sauce from Taco Bell to burn the dirt off, to some extent.

· You can also use Pepsi or Coke, either diet or regular. Your coin will be shiny in about an hour, but this does not work on all coins.

· A soft vinyl eraser is worth a try to remove patina. Vinyl erasers do not contain abrasive particles, compared to the 'normal' erasers.

· Do not mix types of coins when soaking in any of the acidic dips. Copper especially will almost always discolor other coins.

· For silver coins, you can rub the coin with toothpaste. This will remove some of the tarnish.

There is a very good discussion on coin cleaning here also.

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