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Why You Shouldn’t Clean Your Rare Coins

It breaks my heart when a customer shows me an historic U.S. coin that has been scrubbed to death.  While there is nothing that can be done to restore such a coin, we hope to do our part to prevent future coin abuse through this educational blog.  Here we show several examples of coins that have been damaged intentionally or through ignorance.  In every case their value has been reduced.

A cleaned morgan silver dollar

Our first video clip shows what an unaltered Morgan Silver Dollar in new condition is supposed to look like.  The way light reflects off of the surfaces of an original mint state coin has a cartwheel effect.  As the coin is tilted into the light it gives the appearance of a rotating wheel.  Refer to this video and compare the mint state coin with those that have been damaged from cleaning, polishing and mishandling.

Imagine buying a brand new car and then cleaning the body with a coarse steel wool pad.  It would ruin the finish not to mention your car’s value.  This applies to coins as well.  Simply put, collectors prefer original and authentically aged coins.  This second video clip demonstrates how harsh scrubbing can impair a coin.  As the coin is tilted, the scratches become apparent.

This next coin may look shiny but it is not original.  Its luster is gone and it does not reflect light the way it should.  Compare it with the mint state coin above and you will easily see the difference.  This severely polished coin doesn’t look right at all.

Although technically not cleaning, altering the surface of a coin by rubbing it with your fingers or an eraser will impair a coin’s condition and value.  The coin in this final video clip was physically altered.  Again, you should be able to see that it does not reflect light like the mint state coin.

We hope this short video lesson has helped to set a realistic expectation regarding your coins when you seek an appraisal.  To a large degree you can impact what you get for your coins simply through proper handling and by not cleaning them. Above all, Do Not Clean Your Rare Coins!

Reposted from November 2011


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