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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion  |  Topic: Opinions, please... a couple of recent cleaning/conservation projects 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Opinions, please... a couple of recent cleaning/conservation projects  (Read 802 times)
Robert Merz
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« on: October 31, 2018, 06:26:03 am »

Hello, Friends…

This is my first post to this part of the forum (I have joined just recently).

I wanted to share two of my recent cleaning/conservation projects. I did not take before photos, as I never intended to share the work with anyone. These were originally what folks on this board seem to refer to as “crusties.” They looked to be devoid of any detail.

My purpose in sharing them is to get an expert opinion on the results. Does the populace here feel these are over cleaned? I have ready about ten pages worth of content on this sub board, and I see clearly that some coins are considered over cleaned, and that some collectors confuse encrustation with patina.

I am a former metals conservator (8 years in a private museum). In those years I spent my time cleaning and conserving mostly American Civil War to WWII items. In that time I became known as a button specialist (I still collect and clean/conserve historic buttons today as a hobby). I remember cleaning very few coins, and those were WWII German Reichsfennigs.

In 1996 I was part of a volunteer project to find and identify the true location of the Fallen Timbers battle site. I met a gentleman who was in charge of the metal detecting site survey and we became friends. He was adamant that I move from behind the microscope and into the field to see how that side of the work was done, and so I went on a few detecting adventures with him. I usually found nothing, but on our final trip to a site in Kentucky, I had better luck. On that day, at a depth of 11 inches, I dug a handful of coins (six), one of them a silver coin.

I assumed the coins to all be Civil War-era but was quite stunned when the silver coin was cleaned and totally revealed to be a Volusian with Felicitus reverse (251-253). All were puzzled as it made no sense for a Roman coin to be on a Civil War site. Eventually, the ID was revealed, and the consensus opinion was that a Civil War soldier likely claimed it as spoils of war from a local estate and either carried it as a good luck pice, or simply because it was silver, a curiosity, and therefore would be good for barter.

This is how I was introduced to ancient Roman coins.

Over the next 20+ years I have collected approximately 50 more (all uncleaned). I have never paid much for them simply because, while I am Rain Man when it comes to ancient and military buttons, I am a complete neophyte when it comes to Roman coins. Even with my museum experience I fear modern forgeries, as I have seen plenty of experts in my field fooled (and I am far from an expert).

So, I present to this group two of my recent cleanings… I admit I am torn as to whether to clean these coins at all. Before proceeding further, I would like some opinions on what I have done with these. I believe I have removed only what the experts here will agree is encrustation while leaving the original patina intact. Aside from a distilled water soak, I have used a completely mechanical cleaning process. The Constantine at right does have a thin coating of Renaisance Wax; Diocletian does not.

I do understand these are not rare, high-value, important coins, but to me they represent great history and they are (should be) priceless.

I would like to collect more, but knowing next to nothing about Roman coins, I still fear fakes (of even common coins), so I am hoping to learn a lot from this group. I do have reference books on Romans, and I am a very book-smart, but I lack common sense, and what seems obvious to some I struggle to grasp. This makes learning from books difficult when it comes to fakes/forgeries (at least in my case).

I have also included a photo of a button project I have just completed which does show a before and after result. The coins were in much the same condition.

For those interested, the button is of Spanish King, Ferdinand VII and dates circa 1808-1810 (Napoleon’s occupation of Spain). It is 18mm.

I appreciate all opinions… good or bad.
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2018, 06:27:51 am »

Welcome to FORVM. Good job cleaning.
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Nathan P
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2018, 06:49:47 am »

Yeah, it looks like you did a terrific job on the cleaning - I'm interested to see other coins you've cleaned! I wouldn't worry too much about fakes so long as you buy from reputable dealers (such as this site). I've never bought uncleaned coins before, but I understand those are also unlikely to be forgeries given the very low dollar value.
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 08:31:32 am »

The coins look fabulous and not at all overcleaned in my opinion - wonderful job.  Welcome to the Forum!  Your metal conservation experience and skills may benefit many of the other members. and I hope our collective knowledge will ease your foray into ancient coins.
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Dominic T
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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 10:49:11 am »

Very neat cleaning job ! « Decrusting » is also my favorite side in coins collecting. Just by curiosity, for how long did you soak them, and what tools did you use for the mechanical cleaning ?
DT
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otlichnik
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« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2018, 11:09:31 am »

Definitely an excellent job cleaning.

SC
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2018, 07:47:11 pm »

Nice work, thanks for sharing.   Please continue to do so!
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James Anderson
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 11:50:17 pm »

Very nice cleaning job, but  I would like to mention that the battle of  Fallen Timbers  took place in August 1794, between a coalition of Indian tribes and American troops led by General  Anthony Wayne, at  what is now Toledo, Ohio. It is not a civil war site.
Add: My mistake. I see the the writer was referring to a site in Kentucky, not Ohio-Jim Anderson














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Robert Merz
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2018, 05:29:16 am »

Welcome to FORVM. Good job cleaning.

Thank you.
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2018, 05:31:00 am »

Yeah, it looks like you did a terrific job on the cleaning - I'm interested to see other coins you've cleaned! I wouldn't worry too much about fakes so long as you buy from reputable dealers (such as this site). I've never bought uncleaned coins before, but I understand those are also unlikely to be forgeries given the very low dollar value.

Thank you.

These are the only two I have cleaned so far. I plan to work with another. I will post some photos to see if the consensus view is that cleaning is warranted, and if so, I can then show before and after images.
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2018, 05:33:56 am »

Very neat cleaning job ! « Decrusting » is also my favorite side in coins collecting. Just by curiosity, for how long did you soak them, and what tools did you use for the mechanical cleaning ?
DT

Thank you for your comments.

I did a weeks-long soak in distilled water, but I did brush and change the water daily.

For the mechanical cleaning I used sharpened bamboo sticks, and progresses to diamond-coated needles for the finer details. I do not recall how long the Diocletian took, but I do remember the Constantine took a week.
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2018, 05:34:23 am »

Nice work, thanks for sharing.   Please continue to do so!

Thank you. Will do.
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2018, 05:38:33 am »

I took some photos of the Volusian I found at the Civil War site in Kentucky - the coin that got me started. I did clean it, but that has been over 20 years ago now. I am assuming this is a real Volusian and not an ancient forgery. It has always amused me that this has the Felicitas reverse given the unfortunate demise of Volusian.

This is my first attempt at making a composite of obverse/reverse... I think I may have gotten the reverse a bit larger somehow...
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Nathan P
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2018, 06:42:25 am »

Robert, your photography is also excellent. How do you do it?
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2018, 07:10:02 am »

Robert, your photography is also excellent. How do you do it?

Thank you, Nathan. I was a photojournalist a lifetime ago, when there was such a profession, and was at one time a professional shooting events and weddings, etc. I'm basically retired now (eventually became a writer and editor), so I photograph now for my own enjoyment.

I have taken these photos using my Samsung Note8. There was a day when I would break out my Canon EOS for such things, but the new phones take such nice photos, I am not sure using a dedicated macro set up is necessary.

I used inert museum putty to prop the coin in position, and it is photographed against a piece of standard printer paper for a background. I then just cropped it to meet the size requirements.
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B-Chicago
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2018, 07:49:06 pm »

nice work.


was the Fern button found in the states or did you buy it from someone on the other side of the pond?
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2018, 05:39:21 am »

Quote from: Quintillus on November 05, 2018, 07:49:06 pm
nice work.


was the Fern button found in the states or did you buy it from someone on the other side of the pond?

Hello,

That one was purchased from Spain. I have a collection of about 30 different types of the Ferdinand VII buttons. These are sometimes found at sites in Florida, but I do not have any from US sites.

I do have early doublet buttons from the Menendez Expedition to St. Augustine of 1565 (I have just published an article on these).

Collecting these button types has been my primary hobby for the past 20-plus years; I am now attempting to learn Roman coins (and feeling overwhelmed).
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B-Chicago
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« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2018, 03:50:24 pm »

cool!

I have a bunch of old buttons - many from spain and england - some from the us - found by detectorists - I found a few over the years but haven't had time to detect in ages and I dont live in an area where there is much material to be found - I used to live in a very old part of cincinnati that was excellent for finding old stuff from the mid 1700's to mid 1800's (Columbia Tusculum) found a bunch of large cents,buttons etc.

not too long ago you could by a big zip lock bag of buttons from spain for about 20$ - not any more

would like to see that article if possible



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Robert Merz
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« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2018, 08:50:31 am »

Quote from: Quintillus on November 07, 2018, 03:50:24 pm
cool!

I have a bunch of old buttons - many from spain and england - some from the us - found by detectorists - I found a few over the years but haven't had time to detect in ages and I dont live in an area where there is much material to be found - I used to live in a very old part of cincinnati that was excellent for finding old stuff from the mid 1700's to mid 1800's (Columbia Tusculum) found a bunch of large cents,buttons etc.

not too long ago you could by a big zip lock bag of buttons from spain for about 20$ - not any more

would like to see that article if possible


Are you referring to the area around Ault Park? If so, we know this well! We are just over the bridge in Northern Kentucky.

If you are able to email me, I can send you a PDF proof copy. If not, the article is in the October 2018 National Button Society Bulletin (I think there is a copy online at the National Button Society website).
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Robert Merz
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2018, 09:34:43 am »

I'm adding JPG images of the article pages to this post (hopefully).
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B-Chicago
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« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2018, 10:28:33 pm »

Quote from: Robert Merz on November 08, 2018, 08:50:31 am
Quote from: Quintillus on November 07, 2018, 03:50:24 pm
cool!

I have a bunch of old buttons - many from spain and england - some from the us - found by detectorists - I found a few over the years but haven't had time to detect in ages and I dont live in an area where there is much material to be found - I used to live in a very old part of cincinnati that was excellent for finding old stuff from the mid 1700's to mid 1800's (Columbia Tusculum) found a bunch of large cents,buttons etc.

not too long ago you could by a big zip lock bag of buttons from spain for about 20$ - not any more

would like to see that article if possible


Are you referring to the area around Ault Park? If so, we know this well! We are just over the bridge in Northern Kentucky.

If you are able to email me, I can send you a PDF proof copy. If not, the article is in the October 2018 National Button Society Bulletin (I think there is a copy online at the National Button Society website).

yes indeed. just down the hill. a very odd fellow once told me about his uncle looting a mound there many years before. sad. I don't frequent the area anymore but when I did I found all kinds of neat stuff. 1700-

I enjoyed the article. several of those buttons are styles that I am familiar with. When I get a chance I will msg you some pics of buttons I haven't been able to age.
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