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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Video: The Minimalist Approach to Restoring Uncleaned Ancient Bronze Coins

On July 25, 2013 we first posted a video explaining how we go about preparing coins for restoration.

Nearing the anniversary of one of our most popular and widely used blog entries, we've decided to begin revisiting and updating some issues. 

For instance, we would like to address is the proper care of "desert patina" coins. 
But please help us learn what interests you, and what you would find most helpful, by providing comments and messages.

Open in a New Window or click the image below to see our video, "Minimalist Approach to Restoring Uncleaned Ancient Coins" on our YouTube Channel


We also highly recommend browsing various videos on the instructional YouTube Channel run by our friend and colleague Nathan Hochrein, known to many simply as Coinscrubber, of Holding History Coins (on VCoins and eBay) and RomanCoinAuctions.com (co-managed by the late Belgian Rudi Smits, whose death last year was as sudden as it was tragic).

In general, we take what we consider to be a very "minimalist" approach to cleaning coins. By this we mean to include three central premises:

(1) To do a proper job, each coin requires its own "treatment plan," so to speak;

(2) It is best to clean coins with the gentlest techniques possible, including beginning with "dry cleaning" before ever exposing coins to water or oil (we know many advise dumping all your coins in water or oil, or at least rinsing them upon receiving them, but we have found that many otherwise decent coins have fragile enough surfaces or other qualities that make them vulnerable to damage once in contact with liquids); and,

(3) Not every uncleaned coin needs cleaning! Just because it's uncleaned or "as found" in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East doesn't mean you need to altar it in anyway.

Unlike many coin cleaners, we are very tentative and careful, even avoiding the use of distilled water and olive oil unless "dry cleaning" methods fail.


In the video linked above, we describe the early stages of preparing coins for restoration. We mean it as an accompaniment to our longer guide to cleaning coins (which includes techniques all the way up to and including electrolysis for extreme cases), but hope that our partners and others will consider what we say before working on their next batch of uncleaned coins.

We've posted this video for two main reasons. First, we receive a large number of requests for information from our clients and business partners explaining how we clean coins. We usually answer on a personal basis and/or by sending our guide to cleaning coins (available on this site at: http://ancientcoincollectors.blogspot.com/p/cleaning-uncleaned-coins-guide.html).

Second, and perhaps more importantly, we have witnessed many unfortunate, and generally avoidable, cases of damage caused by cleaning techniques that are based on widespread information circulating in internet circles. We have learned by trial and error over many years that one-size-fits-all cleaning techniques may be good for quickly cleaning a batch of hundreds or thousands of coin, but it will often result in damage to many. Much of the information available elsewhere online is very useful and helpful -- indeed we provide many links to it -- but it often fails to recognize that each coin has special requirements.

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