Friday, April 27, 2007

Zapping: Please Use Ancient Coin Culls

Interest in reverse electrolysis or "zapping" as we call it is exploding. We now have 650 members at CoinZappers and we add four to five new members each week. I feel I need to share a couple things with you about zapping that should help you. First of all, I invite you to join our Yahoo group at the following URL:

Next, I implore you to learn the difference in AC and DC electrical current as you explore your new hobby. Electricity and water are potentially hazardous! If you have any doubts about safety, please ask a professional! Also, I have schematics for building zapper posted on my blog and I have at least four schematics in the "Files" section of CZ. Please feel free to explore all the archived information on this blog and feel free to join our group and let us help you build a zapper.

Let's talk about zapping a bit more. I encourage you to work with ancient coin "culls." My thesis is that you don't want to subject your "good" coins to your zapper setup until you have learned to clean a crusty coin. I and other CZ members will be happy to share our cull sources with you. Typically a cull will cost 25-50 cents. I know we have at least three sources. I am often asked how one knows when a zapped coin is clean. I consider a zapped coin clean when there is no remaining encrustation. Once one learns to zap a cull all the way to the metal of the coin then I feel one is ready to try better quality coins.

I have zapped about 6,000 coins and I have learned to leave the patina intact for the most part. The coin you see above left is a coin I zapped and you will observe the patina remains intact. I genuinely feel that zapping is the kindest way to clean a coin. I do not like to apply metal instruments to my coins. Reverse electrolysis is a restoration method employed by museums to clean metal objects and that includes ancient coins. Again, I invite you to join us and let us teach you a new, kind and expeditious way to clean ancient coins. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What Does This Have To Do With Ancient Coins?

Nothing. I think the following is very interesting and worth sharing with my blog readers. A group of acoustic engineers at at the University of Salford in England has uploaded and presented us with 34 "offensive" sounds at and asked us to rate each sound on a scale of 1(not awful) to 6 (unbearable). Please suck it up, put out the cat, warn the neighbors and have a go. I think it would be very interesting if we share the sound(s) we find to be most offensive. I hope you enjoy and we will be back to ancient coins next post. I promise. Meanwhile, enjoy and share with your friends and relatives. God Bless.. Jerry.. PS: I think you will need to copy and paste the URL..

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Removing Blackening From Ancient Coins

The following is a post by a CoinZappers member, Chuck Burks. I think there is validity to the post and I have tried a variation of the posted technique.

How to Remove the Blackening From Zapped Coins

Paraphrased from Roger Peartree’s excellent letter to CoinZappers

A gentle rub with a thin slurry of sodium bicarbonate will remove the blackening left on a coin after zapping with no problem. Evidently, it is simply some sort of carbon deposit on the coin since it is not very tenacious. It certainly is not bonded to the coin the way a patina or discoloration would be. A very fine-bristled brass brush used with detergent is also effective at removing blackening. The brush has .003 diameter bristles and is obtainable from McMaster-Carr. It is finer than the brushes available at hardware stores. Not only are the fine bristles softer but the bristles can reach into minute details of the coins which are skipped over by the heavier brass bristles and the bristles of a toothbrush. Both the brush and the sodium bicarbonate will mar a smooth surface if the brush is applied too vigorously. Smooth surfaces are not generally an issue on coins but a very gentle treatment is advisable on all coins.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pristine Ancient Coin: A Zapper's Delight

The coin you see to the right is one I recently cleaned with a group of other crusties. I have shared with you that I check coins pretty often when zapping. Although this coin had a thick hard crust, the crust opened up and fell away within fifteen minutes. I call this phenomenon the "Clam Shell Effect." It is almost like a clam shell opening and the two sides falling to the floor of my zapper.
The action is so exciting! When the Clam shell Effect does occur, I can see evidence of where the crust has parted and fallen away. Very often, I am left with a near mint coin with patina intact dangling from my clip. Again, please see the photograph. I don't understand why others don't use reverse electrolysis with the heavy crusties. I find it to incredibly fascinating.! If interested in our zapping techniques, please join us at Thank you for reading and I will appreciate any feedback.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Getting Rid Of The Dreaded Bronze Disease

Volumes of material has been written about the dreaded bronze disease or as we say BD. So what do I have to add that is of interest? I don’t care about the chemistry of the disease nor will I address the subject. I do know a great way to get rid of BD and I stumbled across the method by accident. I will share what I know about getting rid of the problem.

I have cleaned thousands of ancient coins and I have never had a BD problem. So how do I know about bronze disease? I have bought many coins from others and I have received quite a few with BD. Initially I had no idea what BD was and tried to wipe and brush it away. I could wipe the green or blue-green powdery substance from the coins to some degree but the green always returned.

For the most part I use electrolysis to clean my coins so one day I decided to zap one of the BD coins. Voila! In a matter of a minute or two the green was gone. Meanwhile I had asked about the green “fungus” and learned that I had coins with BD. I was not sure the disease would not return so I watched the coin for a day, a week and then for many weeks. The disease never returned. I am sure that zapping prevents the BD from occurring on my coins.

I am certain the sodium carbonate I use in my zapping solution prevents the disease. One BD coin can spread the disease to other coins. I decided to see if that would happen with my coins. I placed a BD coin I had bought in a cup with a group of my zapped and clean coins. The disease continued to grow on the host coin but never attacked my coins. I left the coin in the cup for weeks with no ill effects to my coins. I knew I had a “cure.” If you have coins with BD I suggest you build a small zapper to get rid of the disease.

I have very good schematics for building a small unit on one of my sites. I will be happy to work with you if you wish to build a zapper. One other upside to building the zapper is that one can get rid of heavy encrustation using the same zapper. If interested, please visit our site at the following URL: You will encounter a great group of members who are more than eager to help. I am not asking you to leave the wonderful group(s) you currently belong to but I am inviting you to join us and learn about zapping. Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, April 6, 2007

Can You Identify This Emperor?

I think very few readers will identify the gentleman to the left from this unusually unflattering bust. Other busts and images we see of this emperor are much more flattering than the one we see here.

I will give you a small verbal clue. The Roman Senate officially sanctified him as one of the Roman deities not long after his demise. I will give credit to the first reader to respond with the proper answer. Thank you and God Bless.. Jerry..

Romulus: Did You Know?

According to legend, the twins Romulus and Remus, distant descendants of the Trojan prince Aeneas, were suckled by a she-wolf after they had been abandoned as babies. in 753 BC they founded the city of Rome, which bears Romulus' name.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Profoundly Disappointing Zapping Session

I have decided to walk my readers through a zapping session of less than excellent crusties. I made the decision to try and find a good coin in a group of coins I bought about two years ago from a dealer who advertised them as “premium.” I have about 25 of these coins left from the original purchase of 50 coins. The reason I have these coins on hand is because they were such terrible coins. They all have been leeched and are rotted or pitted. I have been fortunate in learning with whom I should deal. For me this is moving back in time about six years when I was trusting and buying from anyone who offered a coin for sale. I have chosen 11 of what appears to be the best of the bad. It is obvious the remainder of the coins hold no hope at all. I have photographed the coins prior to placing in the solution so you will get some idea of what I am working with.

It is now 1:50 PM and I have the coins in the solution and all coins are very active in the solution. This is evidenced by the “boiling” I see around the coin’s clip. My power supply is dialed in at 15 volts and the amperage is already up to 6. I have a timer set to remind me to check the amps in 15 minutes. As the amperage increases I will pull back on my voltage. I want the coins to zap at 6 volts. It is now 2:07 PM and the amps are climbing so I will go ahead and adjust to 6 amps although the timer indicates I have over three minutes left before checking.

I have adjusted the PS to 6 amps. This is the level at which I want to zap the coins. I have reset my timer to 15 minutes. I don’t want the amps to go off the meter. My power source (Pyramid PS 26KX) has a built in protection and will shut down if the amperage goes beyond 12. The unit shuts down and sounds an alarm. I think this has happened to me three times in the past and I don’t think it is good for the PS.

I zap with a top on my container but I will take a cursory look at the coins right now although I have only been “cooking” for 25 minutes. One never knows when a crusty is going to open up and expose a nice coin as the crust falls away. If a coin shows evidence of the crust opening up, I will give the crust a nudge with my bamboo stick and see if anything falls away.

2:28 PM. I just finished checking the coins and I used the bamboo stick on each. One coin is obviously a slick. I have three coins that are “concrete” encrusted. I am pretty sure I see evidence of a Licinius. Another coin appears to have a fallen horseman reverse. Nothing to write home about at this point. I expected as much since I had very little success with this group of coins in the past. I have not bought from this dealer again. These coins were sold to me as premiums and I was disappointed in his “grading” of the coins.

The amps had crept up a wee bit so I adjusted back to six amps. I have reset the timer. I mentioned the concrete crusties. I used the blunt end of my bamboo stick to scrape away what I could of the rock hard crust. I have found that the closer one is to the coin the better, regardless of the hardness of the encrustation. I try to avoid metal tools but on occasion and as a last resort, I have scraped the concrete crust with a dental tool. I try to scrape away crust without actually engaging the metal of the coin when I use this procedure. Remember, this is a last resort action! Allow the zapping process to do its thing. Don’t get in a hurry.

It is now 2:55 PM and the amps appear to have stabilized so I will now set my timer to 30 minutes. Based on experience I know the amps will not climb much higher than an 8 at this point. I am about to go through the coins again and see if I have anything to pull.

I checked all the coins. One more slick. I am having a really tough time breaking through one coin’s concrete layer and I lost one coin. As I was scraping the crust with my bamboo stick the coin collapsed in my hand and crumbled. There is no way to prevent what happened. The coin was pretty much “chalk.” I am continuing to zap the broken coin so you can see what one can expect from a zapping session. I think it is important to mention the following at this point. I could have cherry picked coins I knew would render good results for this exercise. However, I chose this lot because I think this is pretty typical of what a newbie might receive on Ebay.

It is now 3:31 PM. I will check the coins again. Well! Nothing exciting. I am sure I have a 20 mm Licinius and it will grade at least a Very Good. I have one slick. I dropped the broken coin in my deep garbage pail I use when cleaning coins. It was not worth hunting for. I think I see a Constantine with a two soldiers and two standard reverse. I have either a Valens or a Valentinian. I saw a very interesting radiate facing left. Beautifully centered but I think the condition is pretty bad. I finally took my Dremel grinder to the hardest of the rock-hards. I teased the grind down to the surface of the coin. I think that coin would have resisted for a day or so! I saw one fallen horseman reverse. Little promise there. Another slick. I saw one coin with an interesting reverse. It is a standing figure facing slightly left. Overall. I am disappointed in the 11-coin lot.

At this point in the zap if I could see a coin or two coins that had a potential value of 10 dollars each I would be ok. Unless something breaks through I don’t see it. I really feel frustrated and deeply disappointed in the dealer I bought these coins from. I think it is our nature to need someone to blame our misfortune on and I am searching my spirit as I zap the coins and write this to see why I am losing touch with my spirit. I have hundreds of coins. Why do I need more? I have allowed a bit of time to pass and now I realize my ego wanted to make a point about how good I am. My ego wanted something “magic” to happen. This reminds me that buying coins is still a learning experience for you guys. This is the reality of coin zapping. I now feel my peace. I am back in touch with my spirit. You guys have asked me to prove nothing and you only want the truth. We are set free by the truth and the truth is that Jerry does not get all good results! Ahh! I feel great! Thank you God!

It is now 4:50 and I am about to check the coins again. I feel deeply disappointed in that I don’t have a profound answer to give you guys as to how to purchase coins other than what I have said about the return factor. I just bought 25 coins on faith alone. I hope the coins are as good as the coins he has sent in the past.

Boy, this is running into much more time and space than I had thought. I am trying to teach and walk you through each step so I think all I am saying is important. It is now 5:30 and I am going to pull the coins. They are really bad. Again I feel your frustration. I think we need to work at finding a method to prevent you from receiving this kind of junk. You will find a before and after picture at the top of the article. I hope this has been worth your time to read. I hope there are procedures you will and can include in your coin cleaning. Please let me know if this helps you understand better. God Bless.. Jerry..

Monday, April 2, 2007

Ancient Coin Photo Revisited

In my last post I asked you to comment on the effectiveness of the white space I used in the photo of my Groschen. I received lots of comments and I appreciate very much. I will now put on my artist/professor cap and share with you how subtle things can effect a design. I agree the white is fine but I am not happy with the intensity of the white. Too brilliant. I get a bit of "optical vibration" between the white and the hue of the coin and that disturbs me.

I am working at photographing silver and I have not achieved the success I want. However, I am satisfied with the photograph of the Groschen but again the negative space bothers me. The white is just too high in intensity and is close to dominating my positive element.. the coin. My solution was to drop the value of the white by one value and that is all I needed. Please take a look at the coin and you will see what I am speaking of. The coin rests rather comfortably within the design field and there is no visual competition with my positive element. I am very satisfied with the results and may or may not continue to play with other negative area intensities or values. Please contrast the photo we see in this article with the one below.

Effective design is a very subtle thing and many intuitively understand while some have to work at acquiring design skills. One other thing. We may like a singers' voice but not like the song he/she is singing. I don't think anyone will argue with the success of my design but one may not like the "song." I hope this exercise has been meaningful to you. Please let me know and God Bless.. Jerry..

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Does The White Space Work With This Ancient Coin

Typically, I do not use white as a background or negative space when shooting my coin photos. PLease see the photo above. I most often use a very cool blue. I think there is a learning experience for all of us so I am sharing. Please let me know if you think the white space works. If you do not like the white space, what would you have chosen? Please respond and God Bless.. Jerry..