Sunday, January 22, 2006

Cleaning Silver Coins

Cleaning silver coins is very different to 'cleaning the silver.

Cleaning the silver is a very traditional activity in the wealthier parts of town and I am sure we have all seen movies where the servant is sitting at the kitchen table cleaning the silver.

But what about cleaning silver coins? How does one go about that?

In fact one does not! More coins are ruined and lose value by incorrect cleaning than by any other activity.

It takes a professional silver dealer to clean silver coins and even then they sometimes have a problem.

Silver coins are not improved by cleaning!

Chard, a well known coin dealer, states on their web page,Cleaning Coins, the following advice:

"The best advice we can give for most people about cleaning coins is ... don't!
We see far more coins ruined by cleaning than we see coins which have been improved by cleaning."

"Generally speaking coins can not be improved by cleaning them. It is certainly impossible to improve their condition by doing so."

"We first saw this advice in 1962 edition of Seaby's Standard Catalogue, and it still appears in the same book today, although it is now published by Spink."

"If You Have To Ask - Definitely Do Not Clean Them!"

"It's true that if you had to ask about cleaning your coins, how to, or whether to, then the best thing for you to do is nothing. Don't clean them. You will almost certainly not improve them, and you are much more likely to spoil them."

How Harmful Is Cleaning Coins?

Over 90% of the coins brought in to us by non-collectors are junk. Even so, junk has a value, and the value will be greater if the coins have not been cleaned. Assume someone brought us a box of 100 mixed coins which we were prepared to pay £10 for, if they had been cleaned we would be less interested, and may only pay £5, so cleaning would have halved the potential value for the owner.

Let's assume you found a mint condition 1869 penny with its original mint lustre. For this great rarity, we would be happy to pay close to £1,000. If you cleaned the same penny with "Brasso", we would be reluctant to pay more than £100 for it. You would have destroyed about 90% of the coin's value by cleaning it.”

So the moral of the story is, enjoy your silver coins just as they are, and that giving them a good clean is a definite no no.

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