Thursday, May 17, 2007

Graphite Cleaning: A Major Coin Cleaning Breakthrough?


I think I have discovered a method of cleaning ancient coins that will meet the needs of all who clean regardless of cleaning techniques. I am just short of amazed at what happens when I employ my new method. Please allow me to preface my data by stating that the method does not replace the cleaning techniques you now employ but it enhances your ability to better clean your coin.

For some time I have been looking for a gentle method of removing the omnipresent “dirt” and stains found in around the legend and features of the coin’s image. I will not bore you with all the cleaning media I have tried. I went so far as to apply harsh chemicals as I continued to search for a vehicle to lift the tiny particles found in the ancient coin’s crevices.

I recalled my dad and I used graphite powder as a lubricant whenever I helped him restore player pianos and that I had added the powder to my repertoire of art mediums. Almost as a lark I chose a 5mm mechanical pencil and began to draw in and around the legend of a coin. The coin was already clean and I was highly satisfied with my product. As I applied the pencil I immediately saw small residues of dirt begin to roll up into tiny balls and I could gently blow the tiny balls away. I worked on one letter of the legend and then another. I could not believe what was happening! I only thought the coin was clean!

The “dirt’ continued to roll into tiny balls in and around the legend as I continued to draw along the coins surface. I could not believe the cleaning results. I drew all over the coin and the graphite was obviously picking up the infinite specks of crust from the tiniest orifices of the image to the small “o’s” of the legend. The graphite was actually working as a binder! However, I now had a gray coin. I wiped the coins surface with a dry towel and the coin was clean but I could still see the gray deposit left by the graphite.

I tried a damp towel and easily removed most of the graphite. I tried a bit of hand soap with water and the remainder of the graphite easily floated away! The coin was the very same color I had before the graphite application! I knew graphite was used as a lubricant but I was still concerned about the abrasive characteristics. I chose the hardest graphite pencil I had- a #2B- and I really bore down on one of the coins I was working with. I continued to work in a small area of the coin with very hard and rapid strokes. I wanted to be sure about the abrasive qualities of the graphite. I washed the coin with soap and a soft toothbrush and the coin had no abrasive marks at all! Not a scratch!

OBSERVATIONS

I repeat. The new method is an enhancement to the cleaning method you are now employing.
I found that a #2 lead in a 5 or 7mm pencil works the best.
The graphite is not abrasive.
The graphite will not clean crusty coins.
The graphite method enhances what you have already cleaned.
I am sure there are many unanswered questions but I need to know what you don’t know.
I think this is the genesis of a technique that will be used for decades.
I think the graphite enhanced the visual quality of my coins by as much as 25-40%.

I want many of you to try the method and let me know what you think. If you do not get good results the you are doing something wrong. I have now cleaned dozens of coins to some degree and I am very, very excited. Ask Shawn if he got a 3 PM call last night! Thanks for reading and I look forward to feedback.. God Bless.. Jerry..

7 comments:

lawrence1947ae said...

I wish you had thought of this earlier. Anyway better late than never & thanks for the best tip I had so far on coin cleaning technique.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your discovery; it is amazing how well it works!

On smooth (non-pitted) coins it gets coins to a level previously unobtainable without spending hours under a microscope.

Alberto - Italy said...

Fantastic little trick, I used it on 2 coins this evening and worked like a charm. Just wear silicone gloves or your hands will be black soon!! Thanks!!!!!

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