soda cleaned old silver coins
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2 posts in this topic


I’m new to coin collection and wanted to ask few questions.

My father was collecting coins in 80s and we have few rare silver Russian Empire coins. Back then coins were cleaned by soda, which as I understand was normal practice to make coins look better. Looking in different forums now I cannot understand if it is OK to send such coins for grading or these coins will not be graded? And if coins can be graded, does it mean that they will not get grade but get some “cleaned” label? Also just for my understanding, looking at many other graded at MS level Russian coins, which looks like new,  it is hard to believe that these coins were never cleaned so I want to understand why some obviously cleaned items (thousands of them) get grades?

Thank you


Edited by ilyaw77
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Thank you for your question. There are a number of types of "cleaned", "improper cleaning" and it can be difficult--if not impossible--to learn how to identify these coins from reading books.  Most commonly improperly cleaned coins are damaged by cleaning with a mechanical method. The result are parallel hairlines across the surface of the coin that are unlike what would happen during the circulation of a coin. The best way to see these hairline scratches is to look at the coin at the edge of a single light source. If you tilt the coin back and forth the areas of parallel scratches will reflect light in flashes that a coin that does not have these kinds of scratches will.  

Spotting cleaned coins takes lots of experience that comes only from looking at many different coins, both cleaned and uncleaned.  

I think your best bet would be to go to coin shows or shops and look through the NGC-certified inventories of dealers. Look at coins that have been labeled Improperly Cleaned and compare them to coins that have not. Make sure you rotate the coins under a light to look for hairlines, breaks in the luster, and other flaws. Talking to a trusted dealer (and asking questions) can be very enlightening. 

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