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..


Anonymous said...

One trick I have learned, soaking only works for a short period of time.
Changing the “water/favorite soak” tends to be less productive with time.
I let the coins air dry completely for a few days then continue with the soak.
Once the fabric is saturated just changing the water doesn’t penetrate the coin.
Removing a sponge from soap filled bucket and placing in fresh water
Does not clean the sponge, letting it dry and reabsorb leaches more residue out.
And yes some coins come out in a week, some in a month, and some are still there.

Jessica said...

I've been brought up to not clean coins but I do understand that is in reference to wiz buffing & dipping coins.

So are the nylon bristles & Bamboo sticks are non abrasive and don't scratch the coin?

Ok Ball Peen Hammer sounds destructive and damaging. What is it.