Cleaning Coins Found With Metal Detectors

It is obvious to most coin collectors that there are some coins that should never be cleaned. Valuable coins should be treated just that way. Do not risk hurting the coin or damaging its' patina. Clean these coins and the value drops dramatically. However, dug coins are sometimes encrusted with dirt and materials from the ground that cleaning will enhance their appearance and improve their value. Here are a few techniques that work and will not hurt the value of most dug coins.

Archaeologists in Europe who deal with ancient coin finds use one or both of these methods. 1. Soak the coins in distilled water and put them in your freezer. The water penetrates the dirt and the ice crystals expand and break the dirt apart. It may take several repetitions of the process to remove all of the dirt; however, the coins are not damaged. 2. Lay the coins on a piece of wax after covering them with a layer of Elmers white glue. Let the glue dry thoroughly and then pull it off the coins. A layer of dirt will be removed without damaging the coins and again several repetitions are needed to completely clean them.

Many silver coins and especially nickels come out of the ground with black tarnish. The Mayors Cleaning method is great for returning the sparkle to these coins. Go to the grocery store and purchase a box of Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda) available in the laundry detergent section. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and fold it into a 2-3 inch strip. Place it into the bottom of a glass container and place the coins on top of it. Place a couple tablespoons of the washing soda over the coins and pour in boiling water till they are covered with about an inch of water. After the fizzing, cleaning process has stopped, take the coins out and rinse with water. You may want to shine them up a little by rubbing them with a paste of baking soda and water.

There are many soaking techniques and electrolysis methods of cleaning dug coins and I will address those methods in a later article. These are my favorite safe methods for cleaning coins while enhancing their looks and value. Keep on building your coin collection with these metal detector finds. Can you "dig it"?

Larry Smith

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