WARNING! Uncertified Coins Require a Closer Look

Posted on 4/1/2003

When buying uncertified coins, you need to look closely at the surfaces.

There can be great opportunities in uncertified coins, but they also come with significant risks. More than anything else when buying uncertified coins, you need to look very carefully at the surfaces, especially when toning or residues are present.

Some dealers and collectors have begun buying uncertified coins that are discounted due to residues, unsightly tarnish or other foreign materials with the idea under the residues lay beautiful, eye appealing surfaces that will be made visible by conservation.

While this is true in many cases, sometimes an expensive but important lesson is learned instead – a lesson about how tarnish and residues can hide more significant problems.

One of the more common techniques used to hide problems is to apply residues such as PVC or oils to the surface of the coin. By doing this, minor blemishes and even severe hairlines can be obscured enough that, if not looked at carefully, they may be missed.

Another frequent problem that we are encountering involves tarnish, which can also hide significant surface problems. This type of toning may be intentionally applied to the coin or may develop as a result of the improper cleaning that it now obscures.

In either case, the best way to catch these problems is to look at the coin carefully under the correct light. We recommend a 75 to 100 watt incandescent bulb. By doing this, the luster reflects the light and impairments become much easier to see.

If you look carefully at the surfaces of your coins and use the ideal lighting when doing so, you should be able to spot and avoid purchasing coins with hidden problems.

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