I am not sure why but the first coin cleaning article created some negative feedback and a little bit of drama. Maybe my first article was a little harsh and for anyone I might have offended, I apologize. This article is not to call anyone out, offend anyone but rather explain a little further, take some of those comments and respond to them a little in depth. I do not wish to upset anyone and I hope I can accomplish that and at the same time not piss anyone off.
I want to share some of the responses to the first article I wrote and respond to them as well. Again, not to upset anyone but to try and educate a little. By no means am I an expert and I’m certainly not a coin expert either.
1 – Someone suggested I am a little anal and that if my concern was to sell the coins then they could see why it would be important not to scratch them. My response – in over 20 years of detecting I have only sold one thing I’ve found. A 1916 D Mercury dime that I didn’t even realized I had found it for 3 days. I got it graded and it came back “cleaned” which upset me greatly but I was told by two different dealers that was great for a dug coin and I was very lucky it didn’t come back as “environmental damage” which would have taken a thousand dollars or more off the value. Luckily, when I found it I cleaned it just how I clean all of my other silver coins. Very carefully soaking it in water, patting it dry with a q-tip. They said it came back “cleaned” most likely due to micro scratches from being in the ground and that it’s a good thing I didn’t wipe my fingers across it because I would have taken more than half the value away!
2- Another person said something along the lines of “I put all the hard work into finding these coins I will do what I want with them” My Response – This is a no brainer, of course you did so why don’t you put a little work into not de-valuing your finds! Whether you are keeping them forever, donating to a museum or passing them down someday what sense does it make to not be responsible with your finds? If you care for you finds properly and don’t do things like wipe the value away someday, someone is going to really appreciate that and you never know, it might be you!
3- Someone else said “I’ve been detecting forever and I’ve never found a valuable coin yet so what does it matter” My Response – first, silver coins are no longer being made and they are being melted down by the millions for other purposes. Your common silver might not be worth much now but what happens when we die? Will you pass them down? If so what will those “common” coins be work to the next generation or even five generations from now? I can tell you this I cannot predict what these coins will be worth in the future but I can tell you if they are all scratched up the value will be significantly lower. Second, if you rub every coin because you’ve never found a valuable one all you’re years of detecting and it has become a habit of rubbing those coins, how are you going to feel when you do rub a coin that was worth 1,000, 5,000 or even 10,000 and know you just wiped several thousands of dollars away, all because it has become a habit? Does it make a difference or not whether or not you would have sold it? No because again, someone (probably a loved one) someday will want to sell it and I am sure they would be heartbroken that your carelessness cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
4- On one Facebook group page there was a response of “You’re telling me a coin found in the dirt is not already scratched? They’re mine and I’ll do whatever I want with them.” My response – In most cases yes, they will have micro scratches from the dirt shifting year after year, freezing, thawing etc. but there are cases of coins being found, properly cared for and graded as if it was never in the ground. I know of this happening just a few years back in Ohio. Someone I know and actually had the pleasure to hunt with a few times found a beautiful capped bust dime and it came back graded without anything like environmental damage or cleaned. Again, this person is correct that most coins do come out of the grounds scratched but there is a huge difference between micro scratches from being in the ground and nasty scratches from a finger rubbing off the dirt and will therefore significantly change the grade of any coin.
After the first article I was talking to someone about it and he told me a story that just happened at his last Metal detecting club meeting. A gentleman from the club found a very rare silver coin, not knowing what it was he wiped the dirt off and with it literally over a thousand dollars of the value as well. Neither the first nor this article is intended to shame people I simply wanted to raise awareness because we all see it happening over and over again. I will admit I was surprised at so many comments that were being said that were negative but even more surprised by some of the comments that were rude and others that were just ignorant. One person actually said that the article was just my “opinion” I’m sorry folks this is not my opinion but fact. Go to any coin dealer across the country and they will confirm that if you wipe your finger across a coin and add scratches, you have affected the value of the coin and sometimes significantly.
I hate controversy, arguing and it bothers me when people talk negative about me or my work. I understand by doing this second article I might get more of the same but if just ONE person reads this and stops wiping away the value of their finds it will have been worth it.
Here is a link to the story behind finding the 1916 D mercury mentioned
I will leave you with this. Bob Harding posted this as a response to my article – I’m guilty of it even when I know better. I dug a capped bust dime last fall and poured water on it to clean it off. I still wasn’t able to see what it was. All I did was wipe away the muddy water and after looking at it under magnification I can see the micro scratches from just wiping off the muddy water. There is a little damage from being buried but if you look closely you can see the vertical micro scratches from where I wiped it. This was not a common Rosey or Mercury dime.