Should You Clean Your Old Coins?
HOW TO HANDLE AN OLD COIN
The first rule when handling coins is NEVER touch the face of the coin. If you are handling a loose coin, one not in a capsule or plastic holder, there are steps to take to make sure you don't damage it. Create a safe working space by placing a towel or other soft cloth on a table. Clean your hands with unscented hand sanitizer and make sure they are dry. Keep the loose coin out of the line of your mouth while speaking to avoid contaminating it with saliva. And, finally, hold loose coins only by their edges.
Handling proof coins requires a sterile workspace that is free of lintand dust. Clean hands and fingers thoroughly and minimize the amount of time the proof coin is exposed to air. As with loose coins, avoid breathing, talking or eating while the coin is in line with your mouth.
SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR COINS?
Collectible or valuable coins should not be cleaned as cleaning almost always reduces their value and rarely improves their grading. Though it may seem that a bright, shiny coin would be more appealing to coin collectors, the truth is most prefer coins to possess their natural color. Coins directly from the Mint are in their natural state. But for older coins, the cleaning processes used to achieve bright and shiny are nearly always abrasive. So, unlike other collectibles like classic cars or old paintings, which fetch a higher price when restored to their original state, coins should retain their aged quality.
IS THERE ANY SAFE WAY TO CLEAN COINS?
It is generally acceptable to clean coins with dirt on them by soaking briefly in clean water. After removal from the water, pat -don't rub -the coin dry with a soft towel. If your coin is reacting to the polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, plastic case by turning green, then you would do well to let a professional handle the removal of any damage. Though it can be done at home, you run the risk of further damaging the coin. But beyond the two examples listed above, there are not many situations in which cleaning coins are advisable. Experts can tell when coins have been cleaned because the coins often turn a strange color or become streaked or blotched.
VALUE OF CLEAN VERSUS UNCLEANED COINS
A survey of common price discounts on cleaned coins offered by dealers indicates that cleaned coins scratched through abrasive processes are rarely worth more than half of their original value before the cleaning. Lightly cleaned coins that aren't scratched and haven't lost much luster are still discounted by as much as 30 percent. The lesson today is that yes, one is technically allowed to clean a coin, however, it comes at a great risk and should be done properly - ideally not at all, but if necessary, with an expert.
If you have questions regarding thevalue of your coin, please don't hesitate to call us at International Precious Metals, a recognized online coin dealer with nearly 20 years of experience in the numismatics and coin industry.
And if you are looking to expand your old coin collection and buy rare coins, make sure to peruse our collection, which is updated daily.