Insight into Online Research Sources

I am often asked what resources I used for online research when writing articles for the Coin Collectors Blog. For more than 12 years of writing this blog, I have found hundreds of websites that I have used to various degrees. However, there are a few that have provided the best information.

No single website can provide all of the information available. This is why I keep many sources at hand. The problem is that I do not keep them in one neat location. Some of them I remember and then there are snippets of text, bookmarks, and even computer code that I refer to when I have to start looking up information. Not only will this provide you with research starting points but it also gives me a chance to organize my bookmarks!

Before I list my sources, there is one tool that must be included in any online reference: Google. Google is a great search tool because it is the only search engine that really tries to add context of the search. For example, if you are searching for something to do with coin dies you will get related items and not information about games with dice or something about death.

When searching for information using Google is to try to be as exact as possible with the search term including using characters with diacritic (accent) marks. Using the proper diacritic marks will help find foreign language sources that could provide additional information not found in English. Also, Google can search using terms that are entered using non-Latin characters including Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Asian languages.

If you find a non-English site or a site in a language you are not familiar with, Google Translate (translate.google.com) is a great tool for translating this information. You can either enter phrases into Google Translate or enter a URL for it to download and translate pages.

Primary Sources

When it is time to find information about modern coins, currency, production totals, and images, the primary source are the government bureaus that manufacture the money.

United States Mint: www.usmint.gov
Bureau of Engraving and Printing: www.moneyfactory.gov

There is a lot that goes into the money manufacturing process in the U.S. An overview of the bureaus and other agencies can be found the U.S. Coin and Currency Production page.

Trusted Sources

Although there is quite a bit of numismatic information available online, one of the biggest benefit of being a member of the American Numismatic Association is to have access to The Numismatist in electronic form. The $28 per year basic membership gives you access to this resource electronically.

The Numismatist

For other historical publication and a lot of information, consider using the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis. Aside from being a rich source of information, many of the publications they index are located in the Internet Archive. Clicking through to the site will allow you to download many of the publications as a PDF or ePub for your tablet reader.

Another archive you may also want to search is Google Books. The advantage of Google Books is that they offer more formats for the books that have been imaged including a version that has been processed using an optical character recognition (OCR) program. While the OCR versions are far from perfect, it is wonderful if you are looking to copy-and-past quotes into your own writing. Google Books may not have the full text of every reference found because of copyright restrictions but once you find the book you can either buy the book or borrow it from a library making it a great for doing index searches.

ANA members can borrow books from the Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library. There is no cost to borrow books but you will have to pay for shipping. The Library can also provide research and copy services for a fee. Although research services are fee-based and open to anyone, the fees are lower for ANA members.

Archived Publication Sources

Guides

Online guides are resources for individual coins. Each of the resources listed have their strengths and weaknesses making it important that you consult more than one when looking for information. The following list are the guides I consult in alphabetical order:

Price Guides

Whether you are a casual collector, more expert, or someone looking at coins, the one question that is always ask is “What is that coin worth?”

Coin values are subjective and based on a lot of factors. It can be so confusing that I wrote a two part series How Are Coins Priced (Part I and Part II). Even if you understand the principles, there is a need for price guides.

Price guides are not perfect. They have their own formula and their own biases for what makes up prices. For example, the price guides sponsored by the grading services are the prices for coins in their holders. This is why I consult a few price guides when doing research. The following are the price guides I have used:

One of the key aspect of pricing is the level of conservation or the grade of the coin. When it comes to be able to judge the grade of the coin there is only one website I use:

Bullion Values

Another aspect of pricing is the value of the coin’s metals. There are many sites that can provide spot prices, I have found the following very helpful:

Communities

There are quite a few online communities that discuss numismatics. Some of them are very good while others can be a bit harsh for the average collector. For general knowledge and access to a wide range of knowledge I recommend the following:

The E-Sylum has been called the best free numismatic resource on the Internet. After being a subscriber for the last five years, it is difficult to argue with that statement. Many of the contributors are a Who’s Who of the numismatic industry. While you can read the E-Sylum online, you should subscribe. Better yet, if you are an ANA member you will receive a copy in email. Do not delete it! Read it! It gets a PR-70DCAM rating from this reviewer!

Mobile Apps

If we are talking about online access to sources there has to be a mention of mobile apps. Since I am an Apple iPhone user, I use the iOS version of these apps. However, all of them have Android equivalents. Some also have versions the run on Windows Mobile. Here are the apps I have installed on my iOS devices (in alphabetical order):

Universal Apps (iPhone and iPad)
  • Coinflation
  • NGC
  • PCGS Coin Cert Verification
  • PCGS CoinFacts
  • PCGS Photograde
  • PCGS Price Guide
  • XE Currency
iPad Only
  • The Numismatist HD (2009 – present)
  • The Numismatist Magazine (All editions)
  • Kcast Gold Live! (Kitco)
iPhone only
  • CDN Coin & Currency Pricing
  • EyeNote (BEP)
  • Gold Live!+ (Kitco)
  • NantMobile MoneyReader
NOTES:

† Both apps are available for the iPhone
‡ Note that there are different versions for the iPhone and iPad. The “+” is not a typo.
Website Links

Website Links are bookmarks on the phone’s Home Screen. On the iPhone open Safari and go to the page you want to bookmark the press the sharing icon (the box with the arrow pointed up). In the popup select “Add to Home Screen” from the set of icons on the second line.

Bookmarks

Do you want to add these links to your browser’s bookmarks? Right-click (or Mac users can CTRL-Click) on the following button and select whatever option your browser requires to save the file to hard drive. Import the file as an “HTML Bookmark” file to add these links to your book marks.

Whitman Baltimore Expo is dying!

In the more than 12 years of writing this blog, I never thought I would be writing about the pending death of one the great east coast shows. However, given the what I saw this past weekend and having discussions with what few dealers I could have, it is now time for Whitman to either fix the Baltimore Expo or get out of the coin show business.

First and foremost, if you are going to have a three-day show and open to the public on Sunday, then you should have more than 22 dealers across three convention center halls. After being stunned by the number of empty tables when I arrived at 12:30pm on Sunday, I counted the number of dealers that were still selling. There were 22 tables with dealers still selling while another six were packing, including one across from the entrance.

The view standing between Halls B and C at 12:30pm in the Baltimore Convention Center for the March 25, 2018 Whitman Expo


These numbers do not count the Whitman and U.S. Mint booths.

A dealer near the entrance is someone I know and have bought from in the past. When I complained about the lack of dealers he said, unapologetically, that I should have been there earlier. While this dealer is not known for having a warm-and-fuzzy personality, he does carry an interesting inventory and can be an interesting person to talk with on occasion. However, how dare he question my ability to attend? According to Whitman, the show is open 10am until 3pm on Sunday. At 12:30pm I expected more than 22 dealers!

But wait, you might exclaim. Whitman has “**Limited Dealers**” on their website.

There is a difference between “limited” and 22 dealers!

The view standing in the middle of Hall A at about 1:15pm in the Baltimore Convention Center for the March 25, 2018 Whitman Expo.

That is only part of the story. According to one dealer and one attendee who was there on Saturday, the number of empty tables exceeded the number of dealers before most of the dealers started to pack on Saturday afternoon. When I asked the attendee why he showed up on Sunday knowing it would be empty, he said he was looking for bargains but was disappointed with the number of dealers left.

Usually, I look forward to attending the show in Baltimore. I can always find something interesting and talk with a lot of interesting people. It makes the hour-long shlep worth the trouble. But when there was nothing available that I wanted and I spent more on parking and gas than I did at the show, then it was a waste of my time.

When Whitman bought the show it looked like they would work to build it up and keep it a first-class show. Unfortunately, it seems as if Whitman has abandoned their mission and may be on the verge of dying because of its neglect. It is clear that the competence they had before is not there now.

Unless Whitman can fix the problems and make it something that even a late attendee can get something out of, they may have lost this proponent and customer.

I did buy something

I cannot leave a show without buying something. There was one dealer with tokens who was really eager to sell. Since I cannot pass up a chance to search for tokens related to New York, here are the more interesting items I purchase:

I did find one item that I bought because it was intriguing and I want to learn more about the backstory. The next image is a button with the portrait of the late Theodore Roosevelt and the legend that says “Women’s Roosevelt Memorial Association.” As a fan of our 26th President (and fellow New Yorker), I did not know this group existed or what they do. When I find out more I will post what I learn. In the meantime, it is an interesting button!

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 25, 2018

2015 1 Dirham coin from the UAE celebrating the Accession Day of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai (Image courtesy of Numista)

Earlier this month, The National, a site that carries news for the United Arab Emirates, published a story about a 17-year-old numismatist collecting UAE 1 Dirham (Dh1) coins.

In the original article, Nihad Hassan, an Indian living in the Abu Dhabi, liked the design of the Dh1 coins and started collecting them. One coin that was difficult to find was the 2015 Dh1 coin issued to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the accession of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai. As part of the article, he asked if someone could help him find a coin.

This past week, The National reported that an Indian working in a local grocery store found the coin and gave it to Hassan.

The original report was seen around the country and helped gain attention. Hassan reported that he received many emails offering to sell the coin to others who wanted to just give the young numismatist the coin in order to encourage him and his hobby.

Could this be a lesson to encourage more people to look at their coins, especially here in the United States? What if more media outlets wrote about young collectors and allowed members of the public to donate the coins to help these budding collectors complete their collection? Could hobby shops of all types that buy from the public use their space to create collections of state or national park quarters that will be given to younger children to learn about collecting? What if the store created a credit system whereby you bring the coins and you get a store credit?

It would be a form of community collecting. Maybe the collections could be auctioned for charity. Something for those in business to think about.

And now the news….

 March 16, 2018

A young numismatist in search of a rare coin has had the elusive bit donated to his collection after members of the community heard his story and rallied around to help. Nihad Hassan had been searching for the Dh1 coin that was issued in 2015 on the seventh anniversary of the accession of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai. → Read more at thenational.ae


 March 17, 2018

Prince Charles is getting a special £5 coin made to celebrate his 70th birthday. The Queen has also ordered a £25 platinum coin to commemorate the special occasion. The prince has already had special currency made for his first wedding and 50th and 60th birthdays so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise he’s getting more. → Read more at metro.co.uk


 March 17, 2018

The government has ruled out scrapping 1p and 2p coins, despite launching a consultation into the use of cash. And if you’re among the 60% of people who immediately save, lose or even throw out pennies you receive, think again – these small coins can be worth more than you think. → Read more at which.co.uk


 March 19, 2018

In 2007 Alexander Shapovalov suggested an unusual coin-weighing problem for the sixth international Kolmogorov math tournament [5]. A judge is presented with 80 coins that all look the same, knowing that there are either two or three fake coins among them. → Read more at scientificamerican.com


 March 19, 2018

Mickey Mouse money became, from Tuesday, legal tender in France, after the national mint, Monnaie de Paris, released a series of commemorative coins bearing the image of Disney's iconic cartoon creation. → Read more at connexionfrance.com


 March 20, 2018

A contest is now underway honoring one of the Capital Region’s greatest war heroes. Ferris Coin Company in Albany announced they’re handing out two $1,000 prizes for whoever can design the best commemorative coin for the late Sergeant Henry Johnson, who served in World War I. → Read more at cbs6albany.com


 March 20, 2018

Much of the information in this article is from "The Mint on Carson Street," by Rusty Goe. Whenever I take people on tours through the Nevada State Museum, one of my favorite exhibits is the original coin press and the nearly complete collection of gold and silver Carson City coins minted there. → Read more at nevadaappeal.com


 March 22, 2018

The United States Mint recently released a new limited edition coin under its Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Program to increase awareness of breast cancer and raise funds for research, according to a press release. → Read more at breastcancer-news.com


 March 22, 2018

Video It could be a story line straight out of the hit television series Detectorists. But instead of Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones in the leading roles, the stars of this show are Norwich residents Damon Pye and his wife Denise. → Read more at edp24.co.uk


 March 25, 2018

A 1787 New York Brasher Doubloon, one of the first gold coins to be struck in the United States, has been sold for more than $5 million (£3. → Read more at telegraph.co.uk

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Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 18, 2018

When news comes out of the United Kingdom it is fun to read how the British tabloids write about them. They have a way with their words that make no doubt about where they stand.

Philip Hammond has branded a ‘penny-pincher’ after revealing shock plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins (Courtesy of The Sun)

This past week, the tabloids had their fun poking at Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who suggested that the country no longer produce 1p and 2p coins. He also questioned whether it was to the country’s advantage to eliminate the £50 note.

Chancellor of the Exchequer is to the United Kingdom as the Secretary of the Treasury is to the United States.

During Hammond’s review of the treasury, he said that since 500 million 1p and 2p coins fall out of circulation every year that it might be a good idea to eliminate them.

Hammond is a member of the Conservative Party. Following his statements on the State of the Treasury, MP (Member of Parliament) Wes Streeting, a member of the Labour Party, referred to Hammond as “this penny pincher Chancellor.”

That opened the tabloids and other opposition parties to attack Hammond and the Tories. Much like the argument against eliminating the one-cent coin in the United States, those against removing those coins worry about squeezing the poor a few pennies at a time (allegedly) making their situation worse.

For the £50 note, Hammond cites studies about its use in organized crime for physical payments. However, studies show that the criminals are more apt to use the 500€ note, while it is still in circulation, the 100&euro note, and the $100 Federal Reserve Note. Even with the strong exchange rate being strong on the pound sterling, it is more advantageous for criminals to use higher denomination banknotes.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the final say, gave the British press a non-committal statement following the opposition attack. Of course, that opened her up to being called whishy-washy by the tabloids.

The British tabloids do make the news entertaining!

And not the news…

 March 11, 2018

Whether a modern quarter displaying a U.S. national park or a rare, hand-hammered Greek denarius dating back to 250 A.D., history is woven throughout the process and story of all coins, tokens and currencies, according to Monte Mensing, president of the Springfield Coin Club. → Read more at registerguard.com


 March 12, 2018

GAYLORD — When Kandus Schalter received a “challenge coin” from Matt Barresi, director of the Gaylord Regional Airport, she thought she might just keep it in her wallet. But Frank Jasinski thought Schalter, a World War II veteran and local businesswoman with strong ties to the community, should be able to wear it proudly, so he offered to take it to Hogan’s Jewelers, to put a hole and catch in it. → Read more at petoskeynews.com


 March 12, 2018

On Monday, March 12, the National Bank of Ukraine introduces a commemorative coin "The Day of the Ukrainian Volunteer". This was reported by the press service of the bank. The nominal value of the coin is 10 UAH, metal is a zinc-based alloy, the circulation is 1 million pieces. → Read more at 112.international


 March 12, 2018

The Treasury could be paving the way for the end of 1p and 2p coins as it seeks views on the future of cash. It is inviting comments on the mix of coins in circulation as consumers move to non-cash payments such as contactless and digital spending. → Read more at bbc.com


 March 13, 2018

PHILIP Hammond was branded a “penny-pincher” after revealing shock plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins. Unveiling his Spring Statement, the Chancellor resurrected proposals to abolish the “obsolete” copper change. → Read more at thesun.co.uk


 March 15, 2018

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has decided to stop striking coins of low denominations — 1 kopiyka, 2 kopiykas, 5 kopiykas, 25 kopiykas coins, acting NBU Governor Yakiv Smolii has said. “The National Bank stops striking 1 kopiyka, 2 kopiykas, 5 kopiykas, 25 kopiykas coins. All these denominations of coins will be in circulation, but in the … → Read more at kyivpost.com


 March 16, 2018

A pot of 500 gold and silver coins dating to the 15th century was discovered in the Netherlands. → Read more at livescience.com


 March 16, 2018

The five dollar gold coin is the first time the Mint has ever issued currency in a pink hue. → Read more at usatoday.com


 March 16, 2018

Utility workers in the Netherlands struck gold while laying drain pipe at a construction site earlier this month. The employees of Oasen, a water supply company, unearthed a collection of nearly 500 coins in a glazed cooking pot dating back to the 15th century, the NL Times reported — 12 of them gold and the remaining silver. → Read more at nydailynews.com

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Yet another quarter series?

Nineteenth Amendment

With so little happening in Congress regarding numismatic-related legislation, it should not be a surprise that I would become excited I am alerted that there was something to see.

The excitement wore off when I saw the bill that was introduced.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R. 5308 with the initial title of To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.

The text of the bill is not available, yet.

The Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. To amend the constitution, it passed the House of Representatives on May 21, 1919, the Senate on June 4, 1919, then by 36 of the 48 states on August 18, 1920.

How do you create a design to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment? Will there be one quarter per state? If so, what would be on Maryland’s quarter? Maryland rejected the amendment in 1920, the legislature ratified it in 1941, but the vote was not certified until 1958.

Then there is Mississippi that rejected the amendment in 1920 but passed it in 1984 becoming the 48th and last state to ratify the amendment (Alaska and Hawaii were not admitted to the union at the time and are ineligible to vote on the amendment).

While it is appropriate to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, maybe it should be a commemorative coin with the proceeds going to an organization like the League of Women Voters.

H.R. 5308: To amend title 31, United States Code, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter dollars in commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Introduced: March 15, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 15, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR5308.

An Estate Auction tip

Not long ago I wrote about alternative places to find coins and other numismatic collectibles that included some of my secrets. As an addendum, I am going to provide another secret to an estate auction from a company I have done business with in the past.

If you are in the central Virginia area or willing to pay for shipping, you can bid on the Coin and Postcard Auction from JLR Auctions of Culpeper, Virginia.

The auction has 144 lots of coins along with eight lots of supplies. If you are into old postcards, there are a few nice lots in this auction. A little something for everyone.

I have bought items through JLR Auctions and have consigned surplus items. They are a good company to work with. I have no stake in this auction but passing along a tip to my readers.

Happy bidding!

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 11, 2018

It was announced that the Royal Canadian Mint was issuing a silver Canadian dollar commemorating the 180th Anniversary of Baseball in Canada. Being a baseball fan, I went to the Royal Canadian Mint’s website to see if the coin was worth adding to my collection. The came sticker shock!

The coin is convex, similar to the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins issued by the U.S. Mint. But that is where the similarities end. The reverse of the Canadian coin features a vintage baseball scene reminiscent of the 19th century inside a baseball-looking design. The obverse has the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It has a face value of $25 CDN.

Then there are the specifications. When I visited the Royal Canadian Mint’s website, I was floored when I noticed the issue price of 159.95 CAD or about $124.82 at the current exchange rate. Here is a comparison of the coins:

Royal Canadian Mint
180th Anniversary of Canadian Baseball
U.S. Mint
2014 Hall of Fame Commemorative Silver Dollar
Mintage 5,000 (limit) 400,000 (actual)
Proof: 268,076
Unc: 131,924
Face Value 25.00 CAD 1.00 USD
Composition 99.99% pure silver 90% silver
10% copper
Weight 30.75 g
(0.9886 troy ounce)
29.73 g
(0.9558 troy ounce)
Diameter 36.07 mm 38.1 mm
Silver Value
(16.57 USD spot)
16.38 USD 14.25 USD
Issue Price
(1 CAD = 0.78 USD)
159.95 CAD
(124.82 USD)
Proof: $56.95 (preorder: $51.95)
Unc: $52.95 (preorder: $47.95)

If you want a baseball commemorative coin and do not want to break the bank, you can still find the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Silver Dollar within 20-percent of the issue price in original government packaging (OGP). Even though the artwork is very good, the price of the Canadian coin is too high. At a premium of over 970-percent over spot, it is difficult to justify.

And now the news…

 March 5, 2018

The Central Bank of Lithuania is calling on tech companies and blockchain experts from across the globe to help in the design and production of a digital collector coin. The Central Bank is organising a hackathon in May for third parties to help in the design and development of the one-off virtual currency. → Read more at finextra.com


 March 6, 2018

A new commemorative coin was unveiled Oct. 9 to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honor those Americans who served. The silver dollar coin, authorized by Congress in 2014, features a service member holding a rifle to honor those who fought in the war from 1914 to 1918. → Read more at wadenapj.com


 March 6, 2018

Major League Baseball came to Canada in the 20th century with the debut of the Montreal Expos in 1969 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977, but that was far from the beginning of the country's history with the game. → Read more at mlb.com


 March 6, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A design is needed for the Bicentennial Coin to commemorate the Illinois Bicentennial. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced the Bicentennial Coin Contest on Tuesday. → Read more at wandtv.com


 March 7, 2018

Reverse of new penny design, showing Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (U.S. Mint photo) → Read more at chicagotribune.com


 March 7, 2018

The Royal Mint is encouraging coin lovers to celebrate the UK “one coin at a time”. The new series of 10p coins were released into circulation on March 1 and features an A to Z of British landmarks, icons and traditions. → Read more at dailystar.co.uk


 March 8, 2018

A museum has started a bid to buy part of a gold sovereign hoard discovered hidden inside a piano. The find was made in 2016 in Shropshire when the piano's new owners had it retuned and repaired. It has since been declared as treasure. → Read more at bbc.com

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When is it permissible to clean your coins

Numismatists and serious collectors will tell you to never clean your coins.

At one time it was common practice to clean coins and even use shellac on copper coins to keep their color. Dealers would dip coins in harsh chemicals to remove dirt and grime in order to make the coins more attractive to buyers. But that was in the past. Today, we are more sophisticated collectors and like our coins with as natural of a surface as possible. Because of this, the value of a cleaned coin will drop since it will not be as desirable as a coin with an original surface, regardless of the coin’s overall condition.

In fact, cleaning a coin or altering it to make the coin look better is not only unethical, but it can also be a crime since you would be representing a coin as original and it is not. It is called coin doctoring. This is such a touchy subject for the numismatic community that the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG), an association of top dealers, spent two years trying to define what coin doctoring really means. In 2012, PNG came out with the following three conditions that indicates coin doctoring (emphasis added):

  1. Movement, addition to, or otherwise altering of metal, so that a coin appears to be in a better state of preservation, or more valuable than it otherwise would be. A few examples are plugging, whizzing, polishing, engraving, “lasering” and adding or removing mintmarks.
  2. Addition of any substance to a coin so that it appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. The use of solvents and/or commercially available dilute acids, such as Jeweluster, by qualified professionals is not considered coin doctoring.
  3. Intentional exposure of a coin to any chemicals, substances, or processes which impart toning, such that the coin appears to be in a better state of preservation or more valuable than it otherwise would be. Naturally occurring toning imparted during long-term storage using established/traditional methods, such as coin albums, rolls, flips, or envelopes, does not constitute coin doctoring.

But there may be good reasons to clean collectible coins that may not be considered coin doctoring. Some may have collectibles that could be saved if we could just get the dirt or grime off. Some may have some PVC damage that may not have attacked the surface of the coin and could also be saved.

Another reason to clean coins is if you found the coins with a metal detector buried in the ground. Years of being buried in the dirt probably stored in non-archival materials can take its toll on a coin. These coins can be cleaned to remove the dirt.

The purpose is to remove the foreign substances from the surfaces and not to change the physical properties of the coin.

WARNING: IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT THIS PROCEDURE OR WANT TO CONSERVE A RARE COIN, CONTACT A PROFESSIONAL CONSERVATION SERVICE.

If you want to try to clean your coin, consider using neutral and non-abrasive means, such as soaking your coins in extra-virginolive oil or acetone. Yes, I did say extra-virgin olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is as neutral as you can get with a product that has been used to make soaps and other cleaners. In order for olive oil to be branded as “extra-virgin,” it must be made by the natural pressing of olives with no chemical additives and be no more than 0.8 percent acidic. Not only does the purity make for oil that is good for consumption, the natural fats can react with dirt on the coin and naturally loosen it to be easily rinsed away.

When trying to remove PVC or other stubborn dirt, try using acetone. Acetone is a natural solvent, chemically known as an organic compound, that has many uses. Acetone is slightly acidic, no more than two percent by volume, which is not enough to cause damage to coining metals.

If you use acetone you need to use 100-percent pure acetone and not nail polish remover. Although nail polish remover does contain acetone, it also contains perfumes and is diluted to the point that it will not work on your coins. The additives will damage the coin’s surface. Acetone can be purchased at your local hardware store and is sold either by the quart or gallon. While shopping, you should also purchase protective gloves (made from powder-free latex or nitrile), a protective mask for your nose and mouth, and something for your eyes if you do not wear glasses. Always remember your safety when using any chemical!

You should never use vinegar or soap. Vinegar is acidic and could affect the surface of the coin. Using vinegar can cause the small scratches and imperfections from the minting or bagging process to become more pronounced. These small etches can also become rough and allow new dirt to adhere to the coin.

Soap is a salt of a fatty acid. Chemically, a salt is a compound that neutralizes the reaction between the alkaline and acid properties of the chemicals. When fats are combined with other ingredients to reduce its acidity, it creates a soap that can be used for cleaning or lubrication. The problem is that the fatty acids on their own will not damage coins, you never know what the alkaline components are that have been added to balance the pH (potential of Hydrogen) of the acid.

Unfortunately, there is no standard definition of pure soap. Its common use is to define a product whose pH is as close to neutral (pH 7) as chemically possible. Unless the company discloses its formula, it would be impossible to tell if the makeup of the soap will negatively interact with the metals.

One final item you should have is distilled water. Distilled water has all the natural impurities removed and reduced the risk of the rinse damaging your coins. Using a squeeze bottle filled with distilled water is the most effective way to rinse away the olive oil or acetone.

When using either olive oil or acetone, the procedure is similar:

  1. Start with a clean work area. Wash your hands and work on a clean surface. Cleaning your workspace with anti-bacterial wipes will also help. Make sure your work area is safe and well ventilated, especially if you are using acetone.
  2. Consider covering your work surface with a lint-free towel folded over several times. If you drop the coin, you will drop it on the padding provided by the towel.
  3. If you are using acetone, don your safety gear. I cannot stress enough that while using acetone is an effective cleaner, you need to work with it in a well-ventilated area and away from any ignition sources, like your kitchen. If you smoke, you may want to leave your matches and lighter outside your work area.
  4. Pour your acetone or olive oil into a glass that would cover the coin. The depth should be about one-quarter to one-half inch of your liquid. It is also important to use glass for this. Acetone will react with plastic and olive oil may loosen anything that would be stuck to the plastic. A clean glass jar, drinking glass, or dessert bowl works best.
  5. If you are using acetone, place the coin in the glass and swirl it around for about 30 seconds. After a few swirls, you should start to see dirt in the acetone. If there is PVC on the coin, hopefully, you can see it begin to loosen. Do not do this for much longer than 30 seconds since the dirt in the acetone could scratch the coin.
  6. If you are using olive oil, place the coin in the glass with the dirtiest side up. Swirl it a few times to ensure the coin is coated and let it sit. Olive oil is not as strong as acetone and needs time to loosen the dirt. Depending on how dirty the coin is, let it sit for 30 minutes to three hours. Do not touch or swirl the coin. Just let it sit.
  7. Remove the coin from its bath with tongs or your gloved hand. Then using your squeeze bottle filled with distilled water, rinse the coin. Rinse it well to remove the acetone or olive oil. Olive oil is harder to rinse, so patience is required.

After the rinse, place the coin on a lint-free cloth and let it air dry. DO NOT RUB THE COIN! Even though you are using a lint-free cloth, it will scratch the surface. Wait for the coin to dry naturally before storing it away.

If your cleaning attempt did not work, try again. If you used olive oil and want to try again, let the coin sit longer. You may also try using acetone instead. If you used acetone to try to remove PVC damage and it did not work, there is one more thing you can try using a cotton swab:

  1. After swirling the coin in the acetone, remove the coin from the liquid and place it on a clean surface. Make sure you are using all of your safety precautions.
  2. Using a cotton swab with a cardboard handle (do not use once with plastic handles since the acetone will react with the plastic), dip the cotton in the acetone and roll the cotton tip across the problem area of the coin. You can gently nudge at PVC particles that may still be attached to your coin. DO NOT RUB THE COIN! You are trying to remove the PVC without causing any further damage and rubbing it or using any other abrasive motion will damage the coin.
  3. Keep rolling the cotton tip over the area, changing tips after a few rolls. You may also want to have a little clean acetone nearby to dip the cotton swab.

Most importantly, be patient. It may take a few swabs to see results. If it is not working or you feel anxious doing this, then stop. The last thing you want to do is add damage to your collectible. At this point, if the coin is not “clean” then it may not be cleanable. You can try to contact a professional conservation service for additional help.

When you are done, make sure you clean your work area and dispose of your used materials properly. Acetone is considered hazardous so NEVER POUR ACETONE DOWN THE DRAIN. Do not let it sit out because allowing it to evaporate will add toxic vapors in the air. Many cities and towns have hazardous waste processing rules. Find out what they do in your area to allow for disposal of acetone. You can also ask the sales clerk at the store where you bought the acetone for your area’s acceptable disposal options.

While olive oil is not hazardous, it is not a good idea to pour it down the drain. The natural fat in the olive oil will congeal and may stick to your pipes. After a while, the fat builds up and will cause a clog. In my neighborhood, the water company once had to remove a 25-pound congealed ball of grease that caused a backup in everyone’s drain. It was not a pretty sight. You can dispose of olive oil with the trash since it is a natural product and will not pollute the environment.

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for March 4, 2018

I apologize for being a day late.

10p “B” reverse for “Bond… James Bond!” issued by the Royal Mint (Royal Mint Image)

Interesting numismatic-related news out of the week is coming out of the United Kingdom. The Royal Mint has introduced 26 special 10 pence coins, with each reverse having a letter of the alphabet and an image representing that letter. For example, the 10p coin with “A” honors the Angel of the North landmark in Gateshead and “B” for “Bond… James Bond.”

All 26 coins have been added to circulation and the Royal Mint is promoting the coins with the hashtag #coinhunt on social media.

For those collecting the coins, the Royal Mint is offering a special album and an app that can be used in the hunt. For those of us outside of the United Kingdom, you can purchase the coins online on the Royal Mint’s website.

It is an interesting idea that could translate to the United States. Let’s see what happens before making that proposal.

And now the news…

 February 23, 2018

A new exhibition at the National Hellenic Museum which will open March 4, will feature the story of coins from early use in ancient Greece to today. Titled “Change: The Story of Coins”, the exhibition will include an interactive display which will highlight how coins are important financial, cultural and political tools. → Read more at usa.greekreporter.com


 February 25, 2018

The National Bank of Poland has issued a special coin commemorating a hero of the Polish struggle for independence. General August Emil Fieldorf (nom de guerre “Nil”), a hero of the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1920 and of World War II, was arrested by the communist authorities in 1950. → Read more at thenews.pl


 February 26, 2018

The Capital City Coin Club will be hosting its 98th Annual Trade Show on Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, at the Bismarck Eagles Club, 313 North 26th St. Saturday hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. → Read more at jamestownsun.com


 February 27, 2018

Sixty two year-old amateur metal detector Richard Patterson found a rare coin from the third century in a field in Winchester, Hampshire. It has now sold at auction for £10,000 ($14,000). → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 March 1, 2018

The Royal Mint is celebrating Britishness with 26 new, collectors edition, 10p coins – and they've just hit the streets → Read more at mirror.co.uk


 March 2, 2018

February sales of U.S. Mint American Eagle gold coins fell 80 percent from the same month a year earlier, the slowest February sales in 11 years, while February silver coin sales fell to the lowest since 2008, government data showed on Wednesday. → Read more at reuters.com


 March 2, 2018

Recently, at the monthly Veterans Coffee held at the Gaylord Regional Airport, I presented a World War II veteran with our airport Challenge Coin. A guest at the event approached → Read more at petoskeynews.com


 March 2, 2018

Queuing, cricket and tea represent what it means to be British, according to the Royal Mint, which has launched a new collection of 10 pence coins to showcase the "A to Z of what makes Britain great". → Read more at telegraph.co.uk

Coin Collectors News
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February 2018 Numismatic Legislation Review

I really want to say something pithy in this month’s legislative update, but nothing comes to mind. It is a situation where there is both a lot and a little going on. There is a lot of talk coming from Capitol Hill but there is little else. The number of bills and resolutions have reduced.

To judge the activity of Congress, I use a few sites to send alerts when one of my senators of the representative of my congressional district does something that registers legislatively. Most of the alerts are for votes with the occasional introduction of a bill or being added as a co-sponsor to other bills. In my unscientific view of what these people have been doing since the opening of the second session of the 115th Congress, the answer appears to be “not much.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) did cause a little numismatic stir when he introduced the American Innovation $1 Coin Act. Murphy wants to add a $1 coin for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia to honor a significant innovation, an innovator, or a group of innovators. For example, Tennessee could consider honoring the work in Oak Ridge; Florida could consider honoring Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson; while New Jersey would likely honor Thomas Edison.

Even if it is a good idea, the program will be a failure as long as Congress does nothing to ensure dollar coins are circulated. The only way to ensure dollar coins circulate is to stop issuing the one-dollar note. Given that Congress has a hard time passing budget and spending bills, I doubt they would do anything to change the monetary system, regardless of the savings that have been projected.

On a lighter note, David Ryder’s nomination to become the next director of the U.S. Mint is still on hold while Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pouts from his Senate office.

S. 2399: American Innovation $1 Coin Act
Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
Introduced: February 7, 2018
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Feb 7, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-S2399.

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