What You Need To Know: The Difference Between "Cleaning" and "Conservation"
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"Cleaning" versus "Conservation"

 

Introduction

 

Much of the debate and misunderstanding in numismatics over what constitutes “cleaning” a coin versus “conserving” it has to do with the lack of simple, clear definition of each of these important aspects of coin collecting. Because these terms can mean different things to different people, the goal of this article is not necessarily to enforce any particular definition , but rather to present arguments for either side of the debate, and to provide an opportunity to take a definitive approach to the meaning of these important terms. This is especially true because, although a pretty clear understanding of each of these terms can be developed, there does exist a “grey area” in which either term, or possibly both, may overlap and apply to certain situations. Examples will be presented to demonstrate both sides of the debate, as well as to shed some insight on the “grey area”.

 

What do the terms “cleaning” and “conservation” mean in numismatics?

 

Although the effect of either cleaning or conserving a coin can visually appear to be the same – that is, the enhancement of the apparent appearance of a coin – the motivation is different for each of these processes, and indeed, that is what forms the crux of the argument about what constitutes cleaning versus conservation. We shall see that in cleaning a coin, the motivation is to “move metal”, while all conservation processes intend not to "move metal".

 

Briefly, the purpose of conserving is to remove from a coin’s surface those contaminants which pose a threat to the coin’s integrity, and/or which may be impairing the ability to view the surface of the coin. Thus, the inherent characteristics of the coin are not changed, which is to say, the physical structure of the metal is not materially altered, but instead, matter foreign to the composition of the coin is removed, visually uncovering the unaltered coin. There is no material loss of the coin’s metallic content itself, only the loss of foreign matter lying between the coin’s surface and the source of observation (the viewer’s eye).

 

“Conservation” is a mandatory process, and should always be performed if possible, since it will allow for the best possible viewing of a coin, and prevent future problems. Opinion is not a basis for the decision to conserve a coin, since the coin will not be altered, but instead, it’s environment will be improved. Therefore, conservation is an objective decision.

 

The purpose of cleaning a coin is to physically remove part or all of the metal that comprises the coin’s visible surface, thereby revealing fresh, new metal that presents a brighter appearance than the removed metal. Thus, there is actual material loss in that some of the metal that originally existed as part of the coin is no longer present. It is important to note that some of the lost metal may have been present in oxidized form, and could have been responsible for “toning” on the coin, but nonetheless, because the metal was part of the original coin, it’s removal distinguishes the act as “cleaning” instead of “conserving”, because metal molecules were removed by intent.

 

So in contrasting these terms, it is important to note that the goal of “conservation” is to retain the entirety of the coin’s metallic content intact, while the purpose of “cleaning” is to physically remove metallic content. This is without question the key factor in determining whether an action performed on a coin constitutes cleaning or conservation.

 

“Cleaning” is an optional process, used when the person performing the act has the opinion that the coin will look better after being cleaned. The decision to clean a coin is based upon the opinion of whether or not it will “look better” after doing so, and thus, cleaning is a subjective decision.

 

Another way to think of it is that “conservation” changes a coin’s environment, but does not alter the coin, while “cleaning” alters a coin but does not change its environment.

 

An Analogy

 

Suppose you are presented with an antique, varnished wooden desk. The top of the desk may present a “dirty” appearance due to having been stored for a long period of time, possibly in an improper environment. It may display sandy dust particles, water stains, ink spots, residues, or other contaminants that were clearly not present just after the time at which the desk was manufactured, but over time and through use, the contaminants were collected on the desk.

 

Furthermore, unknown to us, some of the contaminants might have chemical or mechanical properties that could be dangerous to the ongoing integrity of the desk’s surface. Dust particles are abrasive, and if for some reason something were accidentally slid across the desktop, unwanted abrasion would occur. Or, some of the contaminants might contain dyes or chemicals which could leach into the varnished surface over time, resulting in further discoloration. The simple fact is that the fewer opportunities for contamination there are, the better chances are for preservation off the desk’s original appearance and history.

 

Several actions could be performed that would be categorized as “conservation”. We might use a feather duster to remove dust particles from the desk without abrading the finish. We could used compressed air to blow dust particles off the desk. We might even use a clean, damp rag to remove more stubborn dirt, and although any of these three actions would likely result in improving the appearance of the desk, they would not change its physical structure. The desk would still maintain its varnished finish, and that finish would be in the same condition as before it was conserved, still showing stains and adhering contaminants. The only difference is that after conservation, the dust particles would no longer be lying on top of the finish. Any pre-existing defects in the varnish, such as the scratches and stains, would still exist. Under the assumption that we use these methods carefully, the desk and original finish would remain intact and unimpaired by the act of conservation.

 

There would of course be two reasons for the conservation. In the first place, the desk would simply “look” better, being closer in appearance to how it is supposed to look without the appearance being impaired by the distraction of dust particles. Secondly, the removal of the dust constitutes protection of the desk’s finish, as some of the dust might have abrasive or corrosive properties that could lead to the deterioration of the desk’s condition.

 

It is obvious that none of these conservation activities would address such problems as water stains or ink spots – problems that have altered the integrity of the wood’s varnished finish. The stains have in essence become part of the varnish finish, and they cannot be removed without removing part of the finish. In this case, abrasive or chemical action are the only suitable methods for improving the desk’s appearance.

 

Using sandpaper to remove all or part of the varnish on the desk’s surface would be categorized as “cleaning” in numismatic terms. We would actually strip off a thin layer of varnish, revealing fresher, (hopefully) undamaged varnish lying just below the problematic surfaces, resulting in the visual effect of renewing the desk’s appearance. Similarly, using a chemical to strip off the uppermost layer of damaged varnish would have the same net effect.

 

The desk analogy should strongly suggest what constitutes “cleaning” and “conservation” in the numismatic sense. In essence, removal of all or part of a coin’s surface would fall under the category of “cleaning”, while removal of particles from the surface of a coin should be categorized as “conservation”. But there is one aspect of conservation which has not yet been discussed, and it constitutes the “grey area” that lies between cleaning and conservation.

 

The Grey Area

 

Remember that one part of “conservation” is the effort to remove contaminants which, as a result of their proximity to a coin’s surface, may result in future damage to the coin. For example, PVC residue, if allowed to remain on a coin’s surface, can and likely will eventually result in corrosion of the coin. Leaving a thumbprint on the surface of a newly minted coin is likely to result in future discoloration. There are many examples that can be cited where conservation now can prevent future problems with a coin.

 

In the desk analogy, recall that we wished to remove dust particles from the surface of the wooden desk, because allowing them to remain might result in further detraction from the desk’s appearance. But unfortunately, there is always a possibility that the contaminants have become embedded, or otherwise stuck to the surface in such a way that no non-damaging conservation actions can be employed to remove the contaminants. For example, if corrosive glue was stuck to the varnish of the desk, no amount of dusting, or blowing with canned air, or wiping with a damp rag, would remove the glue. It is apparent that only an abrasive or chemical process could be used to remove the offending contaminant.

 

In this case, conservation can only be accomplished by employing some abrasive method that will dislodge the glue. Therefore, the desk must be “cleaned” for the purpose of “conservation”.

 

In a numismatic sense, PVC contamination is a classic example of a problem that often cannot be conserved. Although acetone or other chemicals may address most cases of PVC contamination, there are situations where only acid can reliably remove the PVC damage. So even though the intent is to conserve such a coin, a method of cleaning must be employed to accomplish the conservation.

 

Examples

 

Here are some numismatic scenarios that involve examples of strict conservation:

 

(1) Iced-tea is accidentally spilled onto a coin, and distilled water is used to rinse it off.

 

(2) A certification company uses canned air to remove potential dust particles from a coin prior to its being inserted into a slab.

 

(3) Acetone is used to remove PVC from a gold coin’s surface (acetone does not react with gold, and therefore does not change its metallic composition).

 

(4) A museum knows for a fact that a certain solvent does not react with metal, and uses it to remove lacquer from a large cent.

 

The following are some numismatic scenarios that involve examples of cleaning:

 

(1) A collector buys a coin with unattractive (to him) tone, and dips it in Jeweluster to remove the toning.

 

(2) A dealer uses a rotating brush to remove the patina from a nearly-uncirculated coin, and incidentally imparts unnatural luster (which is also known as “whizzing”).

 

(3) A numismatist determines that a particular coin with PVC damage has become etched, and resorts to using baking soda to abrasively remove the PVC film.

 

(4) A jeweler employs a polishing cloth to remove tarnish from a silver coin and increase it's brilliance, incidentally imparting a highly reflective sheen.

 

Conclusion

 

“Conservation” and “cleaning” are methods of improving a coin’s appearance, but each method has different motivation. “Conservation” does not physically change a coin in any way, but removes pollutants that may either impair observation of the coin, or endanger the coin’s future integrity. “Cleaning” a coin changes it by subtracting metal content from it, revealing fresher metal that gives the coin a newer appearance.

 

Either process may remove potentially dangerous pollutants from a coin’s surface, and there is a “grey area” that exists when it is determined that a coin can only be conserved with a cleaning process.

 

Because it improves the ability to view a coin, and removes contaminants, “conservation” is a mandatory process. “Cleaning” is optional because the apparent improvement of the coin is a subjective matter.

 

“Conservation” does not alter a coin, but “cleaning” does.

 

This article is a Copyright © of EarlyUS.com, August 9,2006, printed here by permission of the author

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Author's note:

 

This article was originally posted on Sun Aug 20 2006 at 07:12 PM, and you can review that original thread here. Note that the new version contains very slight changes, particularly edits to the examples given near the bottom for conserved and cleaned coins. This was done to accommodate suggestions in this thread, but the article as originally posted in the linked thread has not been changed.

 

Unfortunately, the theme of the original thread became clouded due to an ensuing extensive and off-topic debate. The purpose of this new thread is to repost the article and applicable ensuing comments from other members in a manner that is clear and concise, so the article may still have value as a future reference.

 

I trust that the following post accurately portrays the nature and intent of all pertinent comments contributed in the original thread by other board members, except for those which diverged from the subject matter, and which are instead summarized or deleted where indicated.

 

James

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5281.jpgPosted #1360169 - Sun Aug 20 2006 07:24 PM by "leeg"

 

Hi James,

Appreciate you taking the time to lay this all out in laymen's terms. Alot of excellent points were made. 893applaud-thumb.gif

 

 

 

8832.jpgPosted #1360279 - Sun Aug 20 2006 09:10 PM by "TJ'S Coins"

 

Excellent article James! I think that you have made clear distinctions between conservation and cleaning of a coin.

 

The grey area still relies on the intent of the process which ends up being subjective since one can never be sure of another's motives in doing something no matter how carefully it is spelled out. But since this is an acknowledged grey area there is room for this kind of discussion. One person may clean a coin in order to conserve it while another would simply clean it to improve its appearance and potential resale value.

 

For instance a local coin shop has numerous coins that obviously have been dipped. A buyer notes that and comments on it to the dealer. The dealer has several options. He can say the coin came to him that way and how can one know the difference? He can say that he dipped the coin to remove what in his opinion is unattractive toning. He can say that he suspected PVC or some other contaminent that would damage the coin further so he took action to "conserve" it. How would the buyer ever know the difference? Has the coin been altered from its original state? Yes. Is it cleaning or conserving? It depends on the intent of the dealer/seller which takes us into the subjective realm.

 

To take this a step further, perhaps we need an open policy regarding a particular dealer/seller's philosophy of coin conservation vs. cleaning. Does he routinely dip coins? Why? Does he try to improve their appearance? How? If the dealer refuses to answer it raises suspicion with an informed buyer. If the dealer reveals his philosophy with coins it can lead to further clarification and information about the coin for sale. Unless someone knows precisely what a particular coin looked like before a dealer acquired it, it remains a matter of trust between seller and buyer that things are what the dealer claims about them. As a buyer, I have decisions to make. Is the coin acceptable to me? Would the changed appearance impact its resale value? Am I being deceived? Is this the coin for my collection at this time or should I pass with my suspicions and wait for another to come along? Do I gladly purchase it and not think about any of this? The bottom line is that both seller and buyer have a responsibility in the transaction. It comes down to trust.

 

Thanks James for your helpful article and stimulating further thought on this topic. There is still a large measure of subjectivity that makes the issue of toning uncomfortable for some, if not many. These posts are helpful in sorting things through.

 

 

 

Posted #1360393 - Sun Aug 20 2006 10:29 PM by "physics-fan3.14"

 

Great article, James, you laid things out clearly and effectively.

 

As for all things numismatic, what you buy should really be determined by what you like. Conserving a coin, I think most of us would agree, is necessary and only improves a coin. However, when it comes to cleaned coins, each of us must determine for ourselves where the line is to be drawn on cleaned coins. I might not like that lightly polished Morgan, but you might. So buy it. You might not like that whizzed St. Gauden, but I might. So I'll buy it. Yes, it may be foolish, but as long as you know what you are doing, then it is your choice. That is why education is so important: to the uneducated who don't know what cleaning looks like, they will get ripped off by the "cleaning." If we know what we are dealing with, we can make informed and educated choices.

 

We cannot get bogged down in arguments about intention. You do not know the intention of the dealer, you do not know the intention of the person who cleaned the coin. It might have been cleaning to conserve, or it might have been cleaning to improve or defraud. All you know is whether the coin is acceptable to you, and whether you want to spend that amount of money on it.

 

 

 

Posted #1360412 - Sun Aug 20 2006 10:43 PM by "Newmismatist"

 

James

 

To my knowledge and in my 55 years of collecting experinece, NO ONE HAS EVER referred to the fraudulent process of "WHIZZING" a coin as "cleaning". Can you point to or cite any published article that equates whizzing and cleaning as the same thing?

 

The same is true of item 4. Polishing has never been referred to as cleaning - it is a separate and distinct process which in effect turns the coin into a jewelry piece.

 

Here's Webster's Definition of the Verb "Clean"

Main Entry: clean

Function: verb

transitive verb

1 a : to make clean: as (1) : to rid of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter

 

Here's Webster's Definition of the Verb "Polish"

Main Entry: 1pol·ish

Function: verb

1 : to make smooth and glossy usually by friction : BURNISH

 

While these self-crearted "definitions" in your post may be YOUR OPINION, I do not believe your use of these terms as you have attempted to do is even remotely part of the mainstream opinion of the numismatic community. Nor does it assist any collector in navigating his or her way thru this difficult area. You equate dipping in jeweluster as the equivilent of "whizzing" or "polishing". Thus, per YOUR definition, a high percentage of coins in respected third party graded holders (ANACS, NGC & PCGS) which have been "cleaned" (dipped) are the equivilent of being "whizzed"- at least in in your world. This, taken to its logical conclusion, means that these respected TPG services are engaged in a massive conspiracy by grading these "cleaned = whizzed" coins so that these "altered" coins can be sold by dealers for the purpose of defrauding the collecting public.

 

Perhaps you need to rethink YOUR definitions before you lead the less knowledgeable collectors down this very slippery slope

 

Your "attempt" to parse cleaning and conservation by equating "cleaning" to whizzing and polishing is flat out false. A harsh cleaning may irreperably harm a coin, but carefully cleaning a coin by someone who knows what they are doing may both conserve the coin AND enhance its appearance. Conversely, you may "Conserve" (clean) a coin with the sole intent of removing surface contaminents and find that you have uncovered serious unsightly flaws, thereby ruining the appearance of the coin. However, you can't simply make one term (conserving) "good" by assigning good intentions to that process and the other term (cleaning) "bad" by assigning evil or pernicious motives to that process.

 

When I wash my hands before eating, I do so to "Clean" them (remove surface contaminents) - I don't try and remove my skin to accomplish that process, nor do I "polish" them to make them shiny, as it would undoubtedly NOT remove the germs that cleaning does.

 

Your "numismatic scenarios" do NOT exemplify cleaning. Examples 2 and 4 are NOT examples of cleaning. Example 1 is an example of a process that is an acceptable method of "cleaning" a coin if done properly and a process that has been near universally accepted by every respected numismatic grading service and the collecting community. Example 3 is actually an example of a clueless person trying to "Conserve" a coin using an improper method that reduces the coin to the status of a "Hole filler". Note I am not a proponant of dipping coins as there is a greater chance that you will harm the coin rather than improve it. For example: dipping a darkly toned coin is likely to reduce the coin to an unattractive ugly coin and reduce its value and those who want only white widgets often do just that. I would NOT and do NOT recommend it. However, whether you agree or not, there are some silver coins that can be substantially improved by a "quick" dip. The important thing is to have the knoweledge and experience to know which coins can be "cleaned" using an acid dip such as jeweluster and HOW to safely do it so as to both improve their appearance of the coin and not harm or ruin it. The other important thing is to know which ones to "leave alone", no matter what your underlying motive may be.

 

While you may have some good points in this post, your inability to distinguish the terms "cleaning", "polishing" and "whizzing" and your misleading use of these terms as the being one and the same renders this WYNTK post virtually worthless. JMHO

 

Although the effect of either cleaning or conserving a coin can visually appear to be the same – that is, the enhancement of the apparent appearance of a coin – the motivation is different for each of these processes, and indeed, that is what forms the crux of the argument about what constitutes cleaning versus conservation.

 

Is it really? NCS pruports to "Conserve" coins - to do so they clean them - they do so with the intent of improving the appearance of the coins. Their motiviation is also not to make a coin look worse than it already may look. The "Motivation" is therefore a "dual" purpose - and the underlying motivation is to improve the coin so that it will then become either a higher grade or appear to be a more attractive coin and thus more easily sold (at perhaps a higher price). When you start discussing "motivation you are talking about an INTERNAL state of mind which has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

 

“Conservation” is a mandatory process, and should always be performed if possible, since it will allow for the best possible viewing of a coin, and prevent future problems. Opinion is not a basis for the decision to conserve a coin, since the coin will not be altered, but instead, it’s environment will be improved. Therefore, conservation is an objective decision.

 

I have observed NCS refuse to "Conserve" many coins, even where there were unattractive contaminents on the coin - the reason: The conservation process would render the coin "worse" after than it looked "before".

 

The purpose of cleaning a coin is to physically remove part or all of the metal that comprises the coin’s visible surface, thereby revealing fresh, new metal that presents a brighter appearance than the removed metal.

 

This in my mind is ABSOLUTELY FALSE - If I have an $20 Saint, and I clean off the grease and dirt that is on that coin that was on it from the mint (remember a minting facility is a factory that uses oils and grease to run the machinery), I am NOT physically removing any metal - I would simply clean it the same as I wash my hands - with a mild soap and warm water. Many coins have grease, oil and dirt on the surface that can be easily removed with mild soap and water. I once went thru 500 $20 Gold Saints at the request of a bank to determine the better dates - when I was done my hands were near black from the grease, oil and dirt on the coins - cleaning those coins (and many other mint made products) with soap and water is NOT removing metal. What you are specifically referring to is the removal of toning on most likely a silver coin by using a mild acid dip - that is commonly known in the numismatic community as "Dipping" and that term is often used interchangeably with the term cleaning.

 

Thus, there is actual material loss in that some of the metal that originally existed as part of the coin is no longer present. It is important to note that some of the lost metal may have been present in oxidized form, and could have been responsible for “toning” on the coin, but nonetheless, because the metal was part of the original coin, it’s removal distinguishes the act as “cleaning” instead of “conserving”, because metal molecules were removed by intent.

 

Any lost metal cannot be measured without ultra expensive scientific equipment as we are talking about "atoms", nor is it usually an "oxide" as the most commonly dipped coins are silver and the toning that the "dip and strippers" want removed is silver sulphide, not silver oxide. Also, what is removed is NOT the silver metal, but the surface atoms of silver sulphide, which I think chemically is considered a metal "salt" and not the pure metal - a chemist can clarify this.

 

So in contrasting these terms, it is important to note that the goal of “conservation” is to retain the entirety of the coin’s metallic content intact, while the purpose of “cleaning” is to physically remove metallic content. This is without question the key factor in determining whether an action performed on a coin constitutes cleaning or conservation.

 

James, frankly, I'm doubt very much that this is the goal of either of the terms you are using when coin "conservation" is done. While what you state may exist in a utopian world, in the numismatic community, the primary goal is to improve the look of the coin: IF removing PVC does that then is called conservation - if some unsightly toning is removed, you would call it cleaning, but I do believe that NCS also calls both "Conservation".

 

FInally - just an FYI - both "Conservation" and “Cleaning” are optional processes and the decision to proceed with either of those processes is both objective (I will do this) and subjective (I believe that what I am about to do will result in something better). Doing nothing is the other option - and that simply maintains the "status quo" and whether that is good or bad always depends on the particular coin.

 

Another way to think of it is that “conservation” changes a coin’s environment, but does not alter the coin, while “cleaning” alters a coin but does not change its environment.

 

Actually the changing the coins environment has to do with temperature, humidity and what the coin is stored in - both cleaning AND conservation change what's on the surface of the coin - whether removal of surface contaminents or the surface salts that are on the coin - the end result is pretty much the same: the coin looks different because you see a different surface.

 

What it seems to me that you are trying to do is creat a new numismatic definition that demonizes cleaning and glorifies conservation. Both do much the same and if either is done improperly you will ruin the coin. JMHO

 

 

 

Posted #1360581 - Mon Aug 21 2006 01:28 AM by "coinman1794"

 

Numismatist, usually NCS chooses not to conserve in the event that a coin might downgrade if conserved. Because NCS does not own the coin, they have to be careful in looking out for their customers money (no pun intended smirk.gif). If they owned the coins, (in a perfect world) they might choose to look out for the well-being of the coins and conserve them so they do not deteriorate over time.

 

Any surface contamination that sits on a coin over time has the potential to cause or to spead up the process of surface etching and damage. However, a coin's grade and a coins physical well-being may be two different things. Thus, NCS has to be careful not to do anything that might lead to a lower grade, even if that conservation may have been in the better interst of the coin's well-being.

 

 

 

Posted #1360588 - Mon Aug 21 2006 01:38 AM by "Newmismatist"

 

I agree 100% - my point being: you don't conserve coins that you will make look worse - In Utopia you "conserve" for the good of the coin - in the real world you ONLY conserve (clean) when it will improve the coin or enhance the value.

 

 

 

avatar.jpgPosted #1360694 - Mon Aug 21 2006 07:34 AM

 

((( NO ONE HAS EVER referred to the fraudulent process of "WHIZZING" a coin as "cleaning" ... While these self-crearted "definitions" in your post may be YOUR OPINION, I do not believe your use of these terms as you have attempted to do is even remotely part of the mainstream opinion of the numismatic community )))

 

I did not define "whizzing" as "cleaning". I said a brush could be used to remove patination from a coin as a method of cleaning. The numismatic community at large generally does associate "brushing" with "cleaning".

 

((( You equate dipping in jeweluster as the equivilent of "whizzing" or "polishing" )))

 

Not true. No such equation is expressed in the article. You erroneously deduced such an equation.

 

((( per YOUR definition, a high percentage of coins in respected third party graded holders (ANACS, NGC & PCGS) which have been "cleaned" (dipped) are the equivilent of being "whizzed" )))

 

No such equivalency was expressed. You erroneously deduced such an equivalency.

 

((( Your "attempt" to parse cleaning and conservation by equating "cleaning" to whizzing and polishing is flat out false)))

 

No such equation was expressed. You erroneously deduced it.

 

((( you can't simply make one term (conserving) "good" by assigning good intentions to that process and the other term (cleaning) "bad" by assigning evil or pernicious motives to that process. )))

 

By intent as stated, no judgements were expressed in the article. I do not have authority to pronounce judgement on other numismatists. You erroneously intepreted text as being judgemental.

 

((( this WYNTK post [is] virtually worthless. JMHO )))

 

Others do not share your opinion, but I respect it nonetheless.

 

((( I have observed NCS refuse to "Conserve" many coins, even where there were unattractive contaminents on the coin - the reason: The conservation process would render the coin "worse" after than it looked "before". )))

 

This is a statement of commercial opinion, and disregards whether conservation would actually benefit the coin or not.

 

((( The purpose of cleaning a coin is to physically remove part or all of the metal that comprises the coin’s visible surface, thereby revealing fresh, new metal that presents a brighter appearance than the removed metal.

 

This in my mind is ABSOLUTELY FALSE - If I have an $20 Saint, and I clean off the grease and dirt that is on that coin ... )))

 

Removing dirt and grease from a coin is conservation, and is not the same as removing metal, which is an aspect of cleaning.

 

((( "Dipping" and that term is often used interchangeably with the term cleaning. )))

 

Although the terms have sometimes been used interchangeably, they are not always, and that does not equate "dipping" to "cleaning". Dipping is one of many examples of cleaning.

 

((( what is removed is NOT the silver metal, but the surface atoms of silver sulphide )))

 

Silver sulfide contains silver molecules, which are metal.

 

((( in the numismatic community, the primary goal is to improve the look of the coin)))

 

This is often true, but sometimes not. Many coins that have been conserved do indeed look worse than before conservation.

 

((( FInally - just an FYI - both "Conservation" and “Cleaning” are optional processes)))

 

Conservation is mandatory for the safety of a coin, while cleaning is not. A coin's safety is of paramount importance, while it's beauty is of secondary importance.

 

((( the coins environment has to do with temperature, humidity and what the coin is stored in)))

 

The environment also includes contaminants and anything else that may physically affect a coin.

 

((( cleaning AND conservation change what's on the surface of the coin ...the end result is pretty much the same: the coin looks different because you see a different surface. )))

 

Your statement agrees with my article.

 

((( What you are trying to do is creat a new numismatic definition that demonizes cleaning and glorifies conservation. )))

 

Accurate descriptions of each process were presented in a non-judgemental manner.

 

Newmismatist, please note that the introduction of my article clearly states " the goal of this article is not necessarily to enforce any particular definition", and that I carefully made the point that "these terms can mean different things to different people". Did these statements mislead you into thinking the article doesn't contain some of my opinions? Did you interpret those statements as meaning that I intend this to be a definitive article?

 

((( To my knowledge and in my 55 years of collecting experinece, NO ONE HAS EVER referred to the fraudulent process of "WHIZZING" a coin as "cleaning".)))

 

I did not equate "whizzing" with cleaning, nor did I equate "polishing" with cleaning. I gave scenarios in which either process can be used to clean a coin, and I feel certain that both are valid. It's like saying a square is a rectangle. While that is true, a rectangle is not a square, and you cannot equate the two.

 

Similarly, "whizzing" can be a form of cleaning, but cleaning is not whizzing. There's no equation here.

 

If I have a coin with severe deposits adhering to it, I could indeed use a brillo pad, or scouring powder, or a wire brush in an ill-fated attempt to clean away the deposits. Similarly, I can indeed take a tarnished silver coin and use a polishing cloth to rub away the tarnish (and surely this is the most commonly seen cleaning method for bust halves). It is surprising that you don't think polishing and scrubbing with a wire brush can be a form of cleaning.

 

((( Can you point to or cite any published article that equates whizzing and cleaning as the same thing? )))

 

Please reconsider what I stated. I did not equate the two, but a coin can certainly be cleaned by whizzing it.

 

Heritage has referred to whizzed coins as being "harshly cleaned", and while I don't consider them the end-all in numismatic definitions, they've sold a lot more coins than I have. Here's just one example, but there are many dozens, if not hundreds, of other examples, in their archives:

 

http://coins.heritageauctions.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=414&Lot_No=2512&src=pr

 

You can simply search the archives for "harshly cleaned", and will discover many of the coins so described are "whizzed".

 

I think the Webster definition you cited for "polish" supports my use of the process as a type of cleaning, as it is impossible to make a "dirty" coin glossy without cleaning it, isn't it? Do you know of a way to make a coin glossy without cleaning it?

 

((( You equate dipping in jeweluster as the equivilent of "whizzing" or "polishing". Thus, per YOUR definition, a high percentage of coins in respected third party graded holders (ANACS, NGC & PCGS) which have been "cleaned" (dipped) are the equivilent of being "whizzed"- at least in in your world)))

 

Newmismatist, why are you making false statements about my article? I have no idea what leads you to believe that I equate "whizzing and polishing" with "cleaning", but again, a coin can most definitely be cleaned by either process. Where in the world did you see me state that they are one and the same?

 

I also have no idea how you came to the conclusion that I am suggesting what is acceptable and what is not. I was careful to avoid judgemental statements, and would ask that you kindly cite where I discussed the acceptability of any process described.

 

Honestly, and I don't say this in any sort of mean-spirited way, but I almost think you did not read the whole article, at least not carefully. I am sorry you consider this article worthless, but I respect your opinion, and welcome others, whether supportive or not.

 

((( If I have an $20 Saint, and I clean off the grease and dirt that is on that coin that was on it from the mint (remember a minting facility is a factory that uses oils and grease to run the machinery), I am NOT physically removing any metal - I would simply clean it the same as I wash my hands - with a mild soap and warm water. )))

 

What does removing grease and dirt have to do with removing metal? By my definition, the process you describe is conservation, not cleaning. I honestly do not understand the confusion here.

 

((( Any lost metal cannot be measured without ultra expensive scientific equipment as we are talking about "atoms", nor is it usually an "oxide" as the most commonly dipped coins are silver and the toning that the "dip and strippers" want removed is silver sulphide, not silver oxide. Also, what is removed is NOT the silver metal, but the surface atoms of silver sulphide, which I think chemically is considered a metal "salt" and not the pure metal - a chemist can clarify this. )))

 

Common sense should make it pretty clear what processes remove metal from a coin's surface. I don't need an electron microscope to tell me that dipping a coin in acid, or whizzing it, or polishing it, is going to remove metal. Similarly, I don't need that microscope to tell me that blowing canned air on a coin is not intended to remove metal. And my article does in fact mention that removal of the silver sulfides, or silver oxides, or other compounds that have developed as part of the coins patina, contain silver that was part of the coin's surface. So removing those compounds does remove part of the original coin's metal, and constitutes cleaning (by my proposed definition).

 

<<< So in contrasting these terms, it is important to note that the goal of “conservation” is to retain the entirety of the coin’s metallic content intact, while the purpose of “cleaning” is to physically remove metallic content. This is without question the key factor in determining whether an action performed on a coin constitutes cleaning or conservation.>>>

 

((( James, frankly, I'm doubt very much that this is the goal of either of the terms you are using when coin "conservation" is done. While what you state may exist in a utopian world, in the numismatic community, the primary goal is to improve the look of the coin: IF removing PVC does that then is called conservation - if some unsightly toning is removed, you would call it cleaning, but I do believe that NCS also calls both "Conservation". )))

 

I don't recall NCS being called the final word in what constitutes "conservation" - just as I don't claim to be!

 

((( both cleaning AND conservation change what's on the surface of the coin - whether removal of surface contaminents or the surface salts that are on the coin )))

 

That is what my article states as well, although cleaning goes one step further and actually removes a layer of metal from a coin.

 

((( What it seems to me that you are trying to do is creat a new numismatic definition that demonizes cleaning and glorifies conservation.)))

 

I just don't see where my article went astray with being judgemental about either process. PLEASE point it out!

 

James

 

 

 

coin.jpgPosted #1360733 - Mon Aug 21 2006 08:45 AM by "Regis44"

 

James,

Thank you for your article. Newmismatist's coments can be taken as contrarian but, contributed to clearifying one area and demonstrating what you said about some differnt viewpoints. Thank you Newmismatist for taking the time to point out the differences you have with some of Jame's points. Discussions of differences that do not spiral down into endless pits are healthy. And it helps us newer folks understand that opinions are an integral part of the fasinating hobby.

 

Regis

 

 

 

6674.jpgPosted #1360740 - Mon Aug 21 2006 08:57 AM by "IGWT"

 

I can understand why Newmismatist would bridle at placing whizzing under the category of cleaning. It just doesn't fit the commonly understood meaning of the word. That said, James explains himself well enough so that no one should be confused by his use of the term.

 

It's too bad that we can't accept coins as they are. In my mind, the best practice would be to limit work on coins to true conservation, i.e., doing only what is necessary to stop or to prevent degradation without altering the current condition of a coin. True conservation has little to do with appearance and much to do with preservation.

 

But we're not content with preservation. We want to reverse changes to make an old coin look new again; or, in a bit of irony, we want to change coins to make them appear more authentically original (think of restaurant chains like Applebees or TGIFridays that hang antiques on the walls to create the feel of an old neighborhood pub).

 

 

 

2790.jpgPosted #1360767 - Mon Aug 21 2006 09:33 AM by "Bruceswar"

 

Thanks for a great write up

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE

 

 

 

977.gifPosted #1360854 - Mon Aug 21 2006 11:16 AM by "EZ_E"

 

Newmismatist,

 

You have perhaps expending as much effort as James towards this article. I think that matters would be better clarified if you wrote a brief synopsis of the definition of cleaning vs conservation and posted it in this thread.

 

After all, it is not unreasonable to assume that this article could be used as a reference for years to come.

 

 

 

Posted #1361035 - Mon Aug 21 2006 01:51 PM by "Newmismatist"

 

I would hope NOT - As IN MY OPINION it is filled with mis-information. OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE AND if you note, James persistently tries to defend his hypothesis that "Whizzing" is a form of cleaning

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE

 

 

 

Posted #1361285 - Mon Aug 21 2006 04:29 PM by supertooth

 

Hello Folks-----This sure has been an unusual week here at Sleepy Hallow. I even went to the calendar to see if it was a 'full moon'. I was actually surprised to find out that it wasn't. James has been one of our finer contributors on our WYNTK posts. And, I want to again thank him for his time and efforts---trying to be of help to all of us. And, I also want to say that Numismatist's comment that James' post was worthless is, IMHO, very much too harsh a comment. For, it got a normally PCGS poster to come on over to our side of the street and offer his knowledgable opinions. And, from reading many of Numismatist's posts on the other forum, I know that he is quite a knowledgable person.

 

As anyone who reads these posts knows, our intent is only to educate on these WYNTK threads. We have very few so called 'rules' here. Among them notifying either myself or CTcollector that you would like to post----then we give you a specific date. We require you to talk about coin related stuff. And we want you to tell the TRUTH as you know it to be. And, then, we ask that all parties be civil with one another----disagreements are fine but all forms of profanity are out and we try to keep confrontations to a minimum. We want to educate and inform---not argue.

 

Numismatist----I will personally invite you to post. Your knowledge would be most appreciated. All you have to do is PM either myself or CT collector and we will give you a date to post. We welcome ALL knowledgable collectors to give of their vast knowledge and experiences----stories are fine too. We need all the help that we can get here---all of us want to LEARN here. Anyone who posts on the WYNTK thread can pick their topics as long as they are coin related.

 

And I would again point this fact out to all of us. All of us here are at various levels in our Numismatic learning curve. We all do not think the same. As my son reminds me often----"Dad, I will never do it exactly as you would, but I do get it done". All of us do not think alike----but we can respect each other as we try to get better. Next week---Regis 44 will post on ALL his experiences at the coin show. I, for one, look forward to hearing how he feels now that it is over. PM me guys----get involved. We can help one another only if we are willing to share what we know. Bob [supertooth]

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE

 

 

 

avatar.jpgPosted #1361971 - Tue Aug 22 2006 07:53 AM by James_EarlyUS

 

Newmismatist, please answer the following question, for which either "Yes" or "No" would be a valid answer:

 

Can a rotating wire brush ever be used to clean a coin?

 

James

 

 

 

Posted #1362240 - Tue Aug 22 2006 11:07 AM by Newmismatist

 

James - in the theoretical sense the answer is yes, practically speaking the answer is NO! Per your logic - smelting the coin will also clean it, as would using a file to planing off its surface. None of these methods is an acceptable means of cleaning a coin and NO knowledgeable numismatist would advise or advocate using "whizzing" as a method of cleaning.

 

POST TRUNCATED HERE

 

 

 

8757.jpgPosted #1362362 - Tue Aug 22 2006 12:16 PM by "SilverEagle95"

 

Way to stand up for your article James! thumbsup2.gif

 

 

 

http://boards.collectors-society.com/usericons/8832.jpgPosted #1362381 - Tue Aug 22 2006 12:28 PM by TJ'S Coins

 

I think we are witnessing a tempest in a teapot regarding Newmismatist's response to James on whizzing coins to clean them.

 

No where does James say whizzing is an acceptable method of cleaning a coin. Newmismatist agrees but is offended that whizzing is put into the category of unacceptable means of cleaning coins. Is there an acceptable use of whizzing? James would say no. I believe Newmismatist would too. I cannot understand why Newmismatist is so upset about this point. Are there unscrupulous people who have used whizzing as part of "cleaning" a coin? No doubt there are. Is this acceptable? No. Where's the disagreement?. Methinks Newmismatist doth protest too much.

 

Am I missing something here???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted #1362385 - Tue Aug 22 2006 12:29 PM by "Newmismatist"

 

James

 

Let's simplify this:

 

Is "whizzing" a method of cleaning a coin?

 

Does "whizzing" "exemplify" a method of cleaning a coin?

 

edited to add:

 

Have you whizzed a coin to clean it?

 

Will everyone here who uses "whizzing" to clean coins please post letting us know how and when you whizz your coins to clean them.

 

 

 

avatar.jpgPosted #1362409 - Tue Aug 22 2006 12:43 PM by James

 

((( Is "whizzing" a method of cleaning a coin? )))

 

Whizzing can be employed to clean a coin.

 

((( Does "whizzing" "exemplify" a method of cleaning a coin?)))

 

Some coins have been whizzed purely for the purpose of cleaning them, and those cases exemplify a method of cleaning coins.

 

((( Have you whizzed a coin to clean it? )))

 

I have never, ever whizzed a collectable coin, though I have whizzed a very few (perhaps three or four) junk clad coins from circulation for the purpose of learning the effects of the process (and by the way, my results were very poor). That was years and years ago, though.

 

James

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE (order of posts corrected as well for clarity)

 

 

 

977.gifPosted #1362609 - Tue Aug 22 2006 02:30 PM by "EZ_E"

 

It all boils down to semantics . Notice how there has never been a suitable definition given for AT vs NT where there is no fine line of distinction between the two.

 

It seems that there should be a much sharper line drawn in the definitions of this thread but yet, it has been drawn out to a point that borders on the ridiculous.

 

 

 

6674.jpgPosted #1362858 - Tue Aug 22 2006 05:46 PM by "IGWT"

 

I understand that James wants to be non-judgmental in providing information on cleaning and conservation. So, for the benefit of newer collectors, I'll say it: Whizzing is disfavored and discouraged because it alters [damages] the surface of the coin in a way that deceptively mimics mint luster.

 

 

 

977.gifPosted #1363398 - Tue Aug 22 2006 11:35 PM by "EZ_E"

 

Newmismatist, I understand what you are trying to say. Many dipped coins which, by James' definition, have been cleaned are market acceptable coins. In contrast, a whizzed coin is never market acceptable except as a space filler.

 

So, if a whizzed coin is merely marketed as "cleaned" with no mention of the whizzing, this is highly unethical and immoral.

 

A dipped coin, however, may be sold with just a photo and no mention that it was cleaned. This is somewhat acceptable although I still think that a fair description of the coin and cleaning method should be mentioned. Is it hairlined? Was it polished? etc, etc.

 

Most cleaned coins would be bodybagged, some would not. However, there will always be the sheister dealer/seller who will try to pawn problem coins off to the uneducated.

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE

 

 

 

340.jpgPosted #1363891 - Wed Aug 23 2006 09:59 AM by "IrishMike"

 

James it looks to me that you are debating with a couple of lawyers who are trained to find technicalilities in an arguement. And I knew my previous post would be pooh-poohed even though the guy claims to have written a book. So here is my technicality:

 

Ok so here goes it, taken from Coin Collector's Survival Manual fourth edition by Scott Travers, starts on page 207 Chapter 12 Cleaning Coins. He states that there are 2 types of cleaning nonabrasive and abrasive.

 

 

Abrasive cleaning

 

(and I quote) This is the most harmful type of coin cleaning. A coin's grade is based primarily on how much wear it has if it's a circulated coin and how well it has been preserved and looks if it is a Mint State coin. Abrasive cleaning removes part of the coin and thus lowers the grade (sentence in italics). Further abrasive cleaning activates the metal's oxidation process. Even if a coin is shining brightly one day, the next it could turn black from its metal being activated.

 

The very definition of abrasive (italics) indicates it is something you would not want to subject your valuable coins to. Abrasive cleaning removes the top layer of metal of a coin. Using abrasive cleaning is like subjecting a coin to circulation! From the friction or rubbing on the coin's surface from cleaning, part of the coin's design is worn away.

 

Any process is abrasive which requires that you use a wire brush to clean your coins. Also, any process that involves treating coins with acid is abrasive. The same effect can be achieved chemically that a wire brush achieves. Under no circumstances should you clean any coin abrasively (italics).*

 

*Coins discovered at sea as part of an underwater treasure are sometimes cleaned abrasively so the thay can be identified. This is the only acceptable numismatic use for abrasive cleaning.

 

"But the products designed for abrasive cleaning seem so tempting ....(italics) Don't listen to what the label says. If you use a wire brush and/or a harsh chemical the method is abrasive. (italics)

 

The only reason I got into this thread in the first place is because I too have spent 50+ years in the hobby and I was surprised to hear newmismatist state that he had never equated whizzing with cleaning. This is one of the first hard learn lessons I got. Now my local dealers might not qualify to be called experts (especially in technicalities) but they too call whizzing a form of cleaning. But I lead a somewhat cloistered collecting life.

 

Can we not agree that whizzing is an abrasive form of cleaning and if James had inserted the word abrasive, maybe this entire thread would have gone differently?

 

Its my understanding that Scott Travers is a former grader at one of the major TPG's and now a dealer/author in our world. I met him at MidStates in Indy one year and he was nice enough to give this book to me gratis. That was after I slobbered over his recent purchase of a chain cent in XF45, the first one I had ever held in hand.

 

 

 

8757.jpgPosted #1364327 - Wed Aug 23 2006 02:26 PM by "SilverEagle95"

 

I think James was trying to say that brushing a coin could be classified as a from of wizzing, not necessarily the only form.

 

 

 

OFF-TOPIC POSTS DELETED HERE

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The original thread spawned two additional, related threads. Both centered on polls, and I am linking them here for your reference:

 

(1) Did my recent WYNTK article confuse you as to what constitutes "whizzing"?

 

(2) Does Whizzing a Coin Exemplify Cleaning?

 

James

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Finally, I feel the need to make two apologies regarding all the controversy surrounding my original thread.

 

First of all, I hereby apologize to all forum members - active and "lurking" - for my inappropriate behavior, which led to the propagation of so much meaningless and off-topic debate. I should have pulled back from the argument much earlier, but instead, was insistent on trying to "prove" my point. In the future, I will make an effort not to let my arguments get out of hand. Please accept my apology.

 

Second, I hereby apologize to Newmismatist, because I realized in reviewing my posts that some contained disparaging remarks (or could be construed as such). I've already tried to remove them where feasible, but it was not my intent to insinuate personal insults. Newmismatist, please accept my sincere apology.

 

James

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I love the way you transformed your post to incorporate the replies of various members throughout the original thread. I still agree about 90% with what you originally said, and personally I didn't think you needed to apologize for standing up for your article. I learned a lot from this WYNTK and look forward to your future contributions.

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