Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bronze Disease: Fast Track Cure!

Many ancient coin enthusiasts have heard of bronze disease before encountering the dreaded rot! I will not get into the chemistry of bronze disease but I will offer you a quick and viable solution that has worked for me for years. I can help fast track you to the only solution that has worked for me. Please see the attached photo of my Zapped and cleaned coins.
In order to use my technique you will need to join one of my Yahoo groups, CoinZappers. On CoinZappers I have created schematics to help you build a very simply and inexpensive Trickle Zapper. In addition, I will share my long years of experience and the success I have had. My CoinZapper URL is as follows: When joining simply state that "Jerry invited you."

I have Zapped thousands of coins and I have never had a problem with BD. I have had problems with coins I have purchased from others. I can often eradicate the problem in 5 minutes or so. I have never had the BD return once I Zapped using my technique. Sesquicarbonate certainly is not the answer. Many coins/artifacts need to be soaked in the sequicarbonate solution for a year or so and then it is very possible and often likely the BD will return.

Why do I do this at no charge? I am a retired college art prof and I enjoy teaching. Nothing less and nothing more. I really enjoy seeing others succeed with their coin restoration and cleaning efforts as I have.. See you at CoinZappers.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Touch This Coin!

Perhaps I should rephrase the header and ask that the coin's surface be left alone. I could have Zapped the coin or I could have scrubbed it until I rid the coin of whatever is on the surface. In fact, I could have stripped the surface and polished until the surface shone like gold!

There is something about this coin that is beautiful just as it is and my choice is to leave it as is. As an art instructor I taught my students that we knew a painting or design was complete when we could not add to or take anything away without diminishing the esthetics. The visual impact.

This coin has very little coin market value but often we encounter an artifact that transcends economic value. I spent a period of time searching my soul for what it is I like so much about this little coin. Sometimes the visual arts presents us with such a problem. This is what I have encountered... the esthetic moment. The encounter becomes a totally visual experience and words will not work.

My visual exercise is just that. Enjoy the coin for what it is and don't analyze it to death. Just let it be and the coin and we will be OK.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Inexpensive Copy Stand

I have just located what appears to be a good copy stand for those of us who photograph coins and artifacts. The URL is as follows: I have not bought or used the unit but the price looks right.

If you buy the unit, please let me know what you think please. Thank you for looking and God Bless.. Jerry..

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fast Track To Ancient Coin Photography

This article is devoted to those who are new to coin photography and who are looking for a "Fast Track" method to photographing and posting coins. I will keep things as simple and as inexpensive as possible. Please read the material carefully and see if you understand. If not, I will be happy to answer any and all questions. I should mention that I get good results using my Fast Track method. The coin photograph you see above was created using the same method I am teaching you.

First of all, I assume you have some kind of digital camera. Your camera will most likely have a macro (close-up) setting and almost all digicams will have a variety of White Balance settings. You will also use the shutter delay. If you are not familiar with your camera or the terms I am using, please familiarize yourself with each term. You will find the terms in your camera's manual.

Although your camera is profoundly important, I believe proper lighting is 98% responsible for the good coin photographs you and I create. Lighting is the bane of most coin photographers and causes the greatest anguish when learning to photograph coins. I am offering you what I consider to be a shortcut around some of the problems you will encounter.

You will need some way to "tie" your camera down or better stated; you will need some way to shoot your camera from a fixed position. I use a couple of copy stands I made. The one I like best is one I made from an old enlarger. It had been in my studio attic for 25 years before I remembered it was there. It does make an awesome copy stand. The copy stand serves the same function as a tripod. It keeps the camera in a fixed position. In fact, you will be able to use a tripod until you either build or buy a copy stand. It is really easy to build a simple copy stand.

We now address the lighting. The following items are needed. You will need a plastic two-quart tea or beverage container, The container MUST have a frosted surface. This frosted surface is what softens and disperses the light. The frosted surface is also translucent as opposed to transparent. I have had an easy time locating the the plastic containers at Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree or Dollar Store. I have found the the pitcher manufactured by "Sterilite" readily available and I also think it has qualities in and apart from the other brands. The pitcher you want has a two-quart capacity and is tall and round. The pitcher is less than $3.

Next, you will need two inexpensive goose neck lamps or two inexpensive aluminum shop lights with a clamp on device attached. I prefer the goose necks because I think they are much more flexible. The goose necks cost about $6 bucks each. You will also need to purchase two 10 or 15 watt fluorescent spiral bulbs as are commonly found in the home. Check Wal-Mart or elsewhere and see if you can locate bulbs with a "K" or Kelvin of about 5000 to 5500. Kelvin is a thermodynamic term we only need know is used in reference to our bulbs.

If you have a choice of 2500 K of 6500 K, choose the 6500. It leans towards the cool. If you are fortunate to have a True Value hardware nearby, you will find their 5000 K bulbs on sale once every month or so. If you are unable to find the bulbs I have mentioned then buy the "daylight" balanced at Wal-Mart or wherever you can find them. Don't blow $15 bucks each on photo bulbs you have to order. I have used plain tungsten and adjusted my camera to a very nice balance.

I am always reluctant to ask anyone to to cut anything because most people do not know how to handle sharp instruments! I do need for you to cut the entire inside bottom from the pitcher. We want a round "tube" Please cut the bottom "out" as opposed to around. If you do not feel comfortable cutting of if you are a bit clumsy then PLEASE ask the best craftsman in your family to help with cutting the pitcher's bottom.

An X-Acto knife is great for such a job as is a box cutter. Cut very slowly and cut away from your body. Never pull the cutter towards you. The cutter could slip and the consequences would be bad. Once you have cut the pitcher, we now have a light tent. Not only that but you have a wonderful light tent! Time to add one more item to our repertoire of items. Please cut a 1/2" diameter dowel to a length of 2". Make sure the dowel is at right angles. In other words we want the dowel erect and level. A 2" bolt with a nut screwed on flush will work as well. A small 2" rod will serve the same purpose.

The purpose of the dowel is to elevate the coin off the surface of your copy stand. The 2" elevation will allow the background (negative space as we artists say) to be slightly out of focus. Trust me at this point to understand this is desirable. Remember, the coin photo you see above was created using precisely the method I am teaching you.

I have suggested the goose necks. I will show a photo of my setup and you will not see goose necks but I did not have the benefit of anyone teaching me. Mine has been all trial and error. Let's run through the setup. The camera will be located directly above the upside down light tent. You will have a goose neck lamp on each side of the tent and the goose necks will have fluorescent bulbs installed. In the center of the light tent you will have a coin on your dowel.

One more thing. Please locate a small thin piece of wood. Perhaps 6"x 12". A thin piece of Masonite would be great as would a 1/4" thick piece of plywood. Pick up a spray can of Wal-Mart brand of "primer gray".. look at the lid and the lid provides a sample color. The gray will be very flat and about a middle value. The color is actually pretty close to photo gray. This piece of wood, well sprayed with your primer gray will serve as your copy stand format. The paint is .99 cents per can.

We do not want strange colors bouncing around and the gray will absorb many stray colors. This does not mean you can't use other colors. I keep a stack of 4" x 5" colored mat board to use as needed. I simply place the color on top of my gray as needed.

Remember to play with the lights when you have all in place. Move the lights up and down.. pull them back and push them forward. You need to become familiar with the parameters of your tent and lights. What do I say? Paint an acre of canvas and you will be a painter. Shoot 1000 coins and you will be better than you were when you shot the first coin.

I am sure I have left some things out I would like to have included. Remember, I am working with a 70 year old brain unlike most of you youngsters. Please tell me what you need to know. What have I overlooked? I will quote myself again. I would tell my art students to not let me move to another subject with the assumption they knew what I was talking about. I say the same to you. Please feel free to ask all the questions you like and I will take as long as needed to share what I know.

I love you all. Look at my photo and I hope to include a photo of my setup at the end of this article. I am having some trouble with my blog so I hope my photographs show up.. God Bless.. Jerry.. PS" Please click on the URL below to view my setup

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coin Photography: New Lighting Technique

I shot the attached coin photograph using a new lighting technique I have been experimenting with for a few weeks. I am sharing the photograph in hopes of getting some feedback. It is not unusual for an artist to ask for objective feedback and that is what I am seeking.

I see a well done photograph but I may be overlooking something in the process. If you have an opinion, please share. If you see an area of weakness, please share. I do this with my art. I seek out the opinion of other artists and I get good feedback that really helps me.

I am thick skinned so whatever you say will not offend me in the least. An artist must learn to trust not only his/her opinions but the opinions of others. Thank you for looking and thank you for reading.. God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Is Not A Roman Dime

I have created a new technique for photographing coins and I am very excited. I think the most naive photographer will be able to have success with my new "Coin Photo Box".. I am still tweaking but the greatest thing about the unit is my ability to focus light right where I want it and the results are quick and right on the money.

I have now shot dozens and dozens of photographs and the problem one normally encounters with reflective surfaces is all but eliminated. Take a look at the accompanying photograph. This photograph is typical of the results I am getting with enormous consistency. Let me know what you think of the photograph you see posted. Would you be satisfied with these results?

One of my friends will be putting the "Box" through its paces soon and I look forward to his feedback. He is excited as I am and I am eager to see his results. He has seen the results I am getting. Thanks for reading and if you have questions, please ask. I will not be sharing a lot about this unit until I have it pretty much perfected.

I have been using the Box for some time now and there are no outstanding issues. If I am correct, this unit will be put Easy Coin Photography within the reach of all newbies and the Box will greatly enhance the abilities of those who have been shooting coins for an extended period of time.. Thank you for reading and God bless.. Jerry..

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rare Roman Coin: All In The Hunt

It is a great feeling for a Zapper to find a nice Rare coin like the one posted with this article. I cleaned a group of crusty coins and found some pretty nice coins but this one was the most rare of the group. There is something very exciting about finding a very nice coin beneath the layers of crust. I think of it as a treasure hunt.

Many members share the same with me and tell me they love the hunt. They too get a real rush from finding a special coin or even a simple and nice common Roman. If you are not into Zapping don’t get started because you will be hooked! I have Zapped thousands of coins in the past few years and I still get as excited as I did years ago.

The premium crusty Romans are a bit more difficult to find than in years past but I have a small hoard of premium Romans I pull out now and then. As with other things the coins have escalated in price and still kick myself for not investing in more crusties. I hope you enjoy taking a look at this coin and if interested in knowing what I know I will be happy to share. Thank you for reading and God Bless.. Jerry..

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Crusty Roman And Greek Coins: Simple Approach To Cleaning

I am often asked if I only use electrolysis to clean my crusty ancient Roman and Greek coins. My answer is “no” and I will share my approach. First of all I find that most of the coins I purchase need a good scrubbing with soap and water to clean up well. If the soap and water fails then I resort to the following.

I soak my crusty coins in water for several hours to determine if the coins are going to relinquish their hold on the coin’s surfaces without a struggle. If the coin or coins resist then I pull out my trusty tool kit. I have several toothbrushes I trust and then I have my “Industrial Nylon Bristle Brush” I purchased from Wal-Mart. My “Big Brush” as I call it is actually a “grout brush” and as indicated can be purchased from Wal-Mart.

The grout brush has very stiff nylon or plastic bristles and is about twice the size of a toothbrush. I also use a very mild dish detergent whenever I scrub the coins. In addition, I use my trusty Bamboo Skewer tools I created a few years ago. I think the Bamboo tools are about the handiest tools a cleaner of Roman ancients can have in his/her toolbox. I use the Bamboo to push the crust about. Please look through my blog and you will find an article I created to instruct others in creating cleaning tools from the bamboo skewers.

OK, back to cleaning. Remember not all crusty coins will drop their crust at the same time. If you clean a dozen coins there will be at least one coin that will insist on retaining its crust until one is prepared to attack the surface with a ball peen hammer! As you soak the coins and scrub and the highly forgiving coins drop their crust simply rinse those well, pat dry and place on a nice dry towel.

Back to the troublemakers! Please don’t fight with the coins. If the coin or coins want to soak longer then let them soak Allow them to soak for a week.. a month. Six months? Don’t forget to pull the coins periodically and check for those coins that are ready to pull. At a particular point I will lose patience and resort to my Zapping. I am sure my readers know about CoinZappers. If not, I will be happy to share my URL. The URL is as follows: We will be happy to have you join our Yahoo group and we will share the collective wisdom of years of working with our Zappers.

I hope there is something in my ramblings that will help you and please remember that after cleaning thousands of coins using electrolysis I still feel that Zapping is the kindest method for cleaning coins. For those who are a bit fearful of Zapping I now have a schematic and information for building what I call a “Trickle Zapper”.. we clean using only 150 mA. While at it I want to thank all those who write me and tell me they like my blog. This is very encouraging to me and causes me to want to share even more.

Boy, one thing. I have discovered a new method for photographing my coins and am I excited! I have been working on the setup night and day for a couple of weeks. I will be prepared to share in a couple weeks I think. Great results thus far!

On a personal note I will share that this Old Man will turn “seven oh” as in 70 on the 6th of February. Perhaps I have earned the right to share the following in my new old age. Remember, if you are angry and upset you are the problem. Don’t allow others to hold you hostage to their anger and hostility. We only have this moment so lets enjoy it. Yesterday and tomorrow are only illusions.. Thank you for reading and I love you all.. God Bless.. Jerry..