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aragon6
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« on: March 05, 2002, 09:08:57 am »

As I was thinking about trying this on my "uncleanables" what is the problem with doing it this way?  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2003, 02:38:39 pm »

If a coin is so encased in patina that you cannot see the details, removing the patina will only leave you an ugly pitted mess.  

Electrolysis is not for ancient coins, no matter how hard they are to clean.   Never.  On these boards I have seen proudly displayed pictures of coins cleaned with electrolysis - the supposed amazing detail that was once covered with rock hard deposits.  I am not amazed.  I see that these coins are worthless junk, stripped and pitted.  

Leave them for someone willing to take the time to clean them the right way.
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2003, 06:07:44 am »

Lye is the better option for fully encrusted coins, not for dirty patinated coins.  Of course for that kind of coins is plain dumb to use both electrolysis or lye.   Still if you use lye to remove the dirt, you dont get bare metal but a transformed patina, brown color, probably a copper oxide.

I am not very sure about the concentration, but from what I heard is around 1/4 (or less)solid lye and 3/4 water.  Time? Depends, soak the coins untill the cleaning is done. Might take minutes might take days.
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2003, 07:29:14 am »

Hi Folks,

It is interesting to see that the electrolysis issue can still push a few buttons with people's thoughts and opinions.  I suppose that is the purpose of an open forum - to discuss opinions and to have logical debates.  

As for my four cents worth (inflation has struck) on the topic, the only time I see most "cleaners" running for the electrolysis set up is for the incredibly difficult outer crustations.  Dirt, uneven toning, and even slight granules on the surface do not warrant the use of electolysis.  Now, for those really, really hard crusties - the kind of outer coating that seems to be made of steel - many people have very different and very solidified opinions.

Several American & British musuems have been openly criticized for their undying devotion to electrolysis  in restoring dug items.  Those who protest the elec. treatment feel that a longer mechanical or less dramatic treatment should be invoked instead.  I, myself, was watching a program where a British archeologoist proudly displayed beautiful EF sestertii that had been cleaned right down to the bare medal.  He looked at them as beautiful artifacts that could attest to his country's history; I looked at them and wondered what type of patina had been destroyed- it all comes down to personal opinion and preference.  

Personally, I have used electrolysis on a total of, I think, 14 coins in the past three years ("processed" around 1900 total?).  These 14 candidates were, quite honestly, ones I lost patience with.  Of the 14, I later regretted using the process on half of them as their detail was magnificent, the other half were junkers  Smiley.  Why did I use electrolysis in the first place?  Well - these coins all had a few things in common: they had been boiled, cooled, olive oil soaked, distilled water soaked, picked at under a microscope, and brushed for 12+ months without any avail.  I suppose, had these coins been handed over to another person for a few more months, his/her "new" patience would have created better results, but that's the name of the game - how far and long is a cleaner willing to go for a restored coin.  

Coin collecting and coin cleaning are two areas where devout opinions on likes/dislikes are incredibly forged in one's mind.  Some folk collect only EF early Republican denarii, whereas I would rather have a gorgeous EF AE4 from the 5th century.  Cleaning is the same way, some folks are manual/mechanical devotees, some zap everything that comes their way, while some, Hi, Rugser  Grin, leave the coin in its totally as found condition (cool idea, just wish I could follow through withthat one   Smiley).

I suppose my point in this entirely too long message is to quell the waters a bit... we all have our opinions on how ancient coins should be cleaned, and we all have viewpoints on the importance of patinated/non-patinated coins. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.  If we are to discuss cleaning treatments, let's do it from a logical standpoint - not just simple "you're wrong, I'm right" tactics.  Let's keep this forum and our minds open to possibilities, not closed doors.  

There is a reason why people, myself included, prefer this discussion list over others, for the most part, personal egos very rarely come into play on this forum.  People just like talking about coins.  Let's keep it at that.

Take care,

Ken

ps- fritta, sorry this stuff came up on your thread.

pps- I would like to discuss the lye treament on another thread too.
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2003, 10:30:30 am »

I knew my post would prompt disagreement, but I stand by it.  The best way to clean a fully encrusted coin is to chip away at the encrustation with a needle under magnification.  I realize that is far too much work for almost anyone.  But, someday (maybe 100 years from now) when uncleaned are very difficult to come by, a collector will be happy to take the time to do it.  Put the coin away and leave it for a future generation.  We are all just short term custodians for these coins.   If we don't destroy them, they will still be here when we are dust.  
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2003, 06:06:07 pm »

Forget electrolysis, take Phosphoric acid!!!!!!
It's the best (and the last) method to clean coins with rock hard deposits and crusts!!!
try it!!!!
K.

PS: be aware, take a 50/50 solution and DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN IT! otherwise your skin will disappear and the finger nails get very soft...
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2003, 03:19:13 am »

Please tell us more. All I know so far is that its harmful if swallowed or in contact with skin, and the vapour is just as bad. So only use it somewhere well-ventilated.
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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2003, 07:06:04 am »

Phosphoric acid completely removes everything from the coin that is not metal.
it eats the patina, the dirt and everything else if you leave the coin in it too long.
I will scan 2 coins from my collection, then you'll see....

K.
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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2003, 07:23:44 pm »

As I've said numerous times, in my opinion, electrolysis should only be used as last resort... Save the patina!!
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2003, 06:33:34 pm »

I have read this post in the hope that I would find out how people have set up an electrolysis cleaning system, and I guess that it is so controversial, that no one will.  On the other hand, I have a few coins that I would like to try it on, and I still want to know how to do it the "right" way, if there is one.  I understand the problem, and I promise not to use it on anything that has any, no matter how remote alternative.  On the other hand, I have a few coins that appear to be slugs, or or are so damaged, holed etc, that I can't imagine that anything else could be more damaging.  But if there is something there, it might be nice to see it.   I also collect firearms, and I know the value of originality, so I'm not going to "zap" something I shouldn't.  I have used electrolysis to remove copper from a gun bore, and I guess the same thing would work here, after reversing the current.   I keep hearing that "instructions are available on the internet," but so far I have not found them.   Any practical knowledge would be helpful, and if you don't want to post it, please send it to me directly.  I promise not to abuse the information, or abuse any coins that I can see anything of.
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2003, 10:00:31 am »

I've tried both, and prefer lye. I just keep electrolysis in reserve for anything the lye doesn't cut through.
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2003, 07:14:57 am »

I feel like the village idiot.  I've never had an even remotely positive experience with lye.
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2005, 07:40:04 pm »

I can honestly say that I have had great success in cleaning objects using electrolysis.  However these objects are usually made of steel or cast iron.  I have had little success cleaning anything with detail, especially coins.  I tried two badly pitted and encrusted Romans and wish I had tried something else instead.  The rough lifeless finish that resulted is unacceptable to me.  I left each coin in the solution for less than 1/2 hour total time.  

Now I have to admit that the Mel Fisher labs in Key West, FL use electrolsis to clean the silver coins recivered from Spanish ship wrecks and has great success.  I believe that the viltage or amperage used is very low, as ther is no noticible reaction taking place in the large vats used to clean dozens of coins at a time.  I am sure that the electrolyte used in the water is also special and formulated for the silver coinage.   So far I have been unable to find out all of the details involved in the Fisher process.  I guess that the bottom line is that electrolysis does work under very controlled conditions and should probably not be attempted by a store-bought battery charger.  My 2 cents on the subject.
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2005, 03:28:48 pm »

We are all just short term custodians for these coins.   If we don't destroy them, they will still be here when we are dust.  

I was wandering how to explain this concept in English, but fear I cannot do better than Joe.
In any case, the imagine I have in my mind is something like this: don't think that you are helping a butterfly to fly... if you touch its wings with a too heavy hand, it will never fly again...

Federico
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« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2005, 03:59:02 pm »

Phosphoric acid in an 80 percent solution works fine, but it eats everything off the flan, apart from unoxidised copper/bronze. Coins that contain a high percentage of tin (e.g. Nemausus coins) clean very well and a greyish layer of tinoxide is left, which is not at all displeasing.
NEVER forget to reverse the chemical reaction by puting the coin in a water-soda solution after cleaning! Then boil it for at least ten minutes in distilled water; don't put different coins together, nor use tap water as the totally stripped coins are very sensitive to other metals/minerals (like a fingerprint on a new cent).
Electrolysis on silvered coins like antoniniani, can result in utter disappoinment or extreme joy - I have experienced both!
If the silver is well attached to the bronze, you'll get splendid results, but if there is an oxide layer in between the silver and the bronze, the silver remnants will all come off and leave you with a pitted core of a coin.
Of course you know that stripped coins can be made silverplated again by reversing the poles and using a solution containing silveroxide. The results are quite astonishing, but come close to forgery. Yet I have seen examples on Ebay!! beautiful silvering, even on worn places! Beware.
If I were you, I'd stick to mechanical cleaning with a fine copper brush (by hand or by machine like a Dremel)

Frans
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« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2005, 05:49:34 pm »

Just for the sake of accuracy, I believe Curtis has said a few times that the BM does not wax its coins. Can't speak of the rest though, but it makes perfect sense that they would.

As for the original post, by HoneyCat, I find your views rather detestable and static, as you seem to not have seen many decent patinas. This is interesting, as you seem to think yourself an uncleaned dealer, and should have seen the incredible diversity and beauty of various patina types. I shall direct you here:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=9244.0

Hopefully you will compose a more articulate post, including arguable points, rather than this aimless ramble / rant.

Evan

ps. I'm really not this harsh in real life.
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2005, 10:15:02 pm »

Electrolysis sucks.  (Yes, I know, this is one of my most technical and sophisticated posts to date).
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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2005, 10:26:18 am »

I've never been happy with a coin I'd electrolysed, but at the same time I wouldn't rule it out as a last resort.
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2006, 02:35:35 pm »

I tell a lie; I've been reminded that I do have one electrolysed coin I'm happy with. It came with bits of bare metal sticking out of a sort of hard green tar-like stuff; I've never seen anything like it. Once it was zapped and repatinated, it turned into a nice Gallienus VIRTUS AVG. Naturally it would be nicer with a real patina, but you can't have everything.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2006, 04:39:50 pm »

Has anyone ever done a poll on this? As far as my opinion, I agree with Joe. If the romans wanted us to zap their pocket change, they would have struck them with wires attached. Being the logical type, thats why I figure they make so much oliveoil over there!
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« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2006, 12:16:18 pm »

I feel it's time to voice an opinion here.  I've been cleaning coins for several years now, and can't say I've ever come across one technique that's appropriate for all coins.  I certainly make every attempt to preserve a nice original patina, but that's not possible in every case.  Some of my coins have had lovely, smooth green patinas that allow some cleaning to reveal detail while preserving the lovely coating.  Others have had deep brown or black patinas that also stood up well to mild brushing and picking.  Other coins, however, come in with hard, crusty accretions that are not only ugly, but must be removed before any semblance of the original coin can even be glimpsed.  I've also seen many coins that had thick patinas that completely hid any detail on the coin.  Yet others have badly broken or patchy patinas, with bare metal showing through, that do nothing to enhance the appearance of the coin.

In the end it's a value judgement...often it's a case of whether the patina takes precedence over the attribution of the coin.  Ideally, we would all be left with coins that had lovely, original patinas with fine detail showing through.  I have plenty of coins just like that, but I also have many more that were impossible to identify without sacrificing the patina.

If a coin responds well to repeated soaks and brushing, I may then go to fine picking to reveal details and clean out the edges.  Some final brushing with a soft nylon brush and a treatment of Ren Wax and I'm done.  But, as the process goes on and the coin remains essentially hidden, I will resort to harsher methods.  I will use prgoressively harder brushes, longer soaks, add Calgon to try to cut through the mineral deposits, and even put my most stubborn coins in a lye soak if nothing else works.  I have had coins that were so badly encrusted that even a week soaking in lye wouldn't touch them.  Then, and only then, will I resort to the dreaded zapping. 

I've gotten some surprisingly good results out of the electrolysis tub.  Some hopeless looking coins responded well and, after re-patinating, looked really good.  Other coins, actually the majority of them, come out looking exactly like what they are...corroded remnants of ancient coins.

So, I'm one of those who feel there is not any one correct way of cleaning and/or restoring ancient coins.  It's all too dependent on the individual coin.  If it's good enough to preserve an original patina, great.  If not, I think it's proper to do what must be done to allow identification of the coin.  My best coins are the ones which I didn't have to strip or use chemicals on...of course.  But I have recovered some very nice examples from under hard, crusty layers of mineral deposits that could not be cleaned with brushes, picks, or any amount of soaking.

There's my opinion, for what it's worth.

Stan
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« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2006, 01:18:59 pm »

Quote from: jesse on July 07, 2006, 08:53:05 am
I tend not use a electrolysis until its the last resort i use some dull chemicals to strip of the dirt without harming the patina. The chemicals are very household common like bleach miked with windex.Jesse

Jesse, be very very careful with that particular mixture.

Ammonia (Windex) + Bleach = chlorine gas , a good way to die a painful death
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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2006, 07:08:50 pm »

I gave up on a small ugly Parthian plug.  I made a bath of sodium bicarbonate and hooked up the coin to the red terminal of a 9 volt battery while the black is hooked up to a nail also in the solution.  I got bubbles and steam, quite impressive, in a small way.  Question: does it make a difference if the coin is hooked up to the + or - side of the battery?  Also, how long before the bronze shines through like a newly minted coin?  I reaaly plan to cook this p/s/lug
Thanks
Raymond
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« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2006, 08:16:08 am »

Yikes, I'd better go up and check!  Also, what strength solution would you recommend? I did about a couple of teaspoons in apprx. 1 cup water.
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« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2006, 07:17:52 pm »

I think the under lying problem some might have with electrolysis is that it is often used as a short cut that can potentially destroy the coin.Even these small later emperial coins will eventually become more and more rare..

I personally like both types of coins. I like a nice patina on a coin but if there is a terrible looking patina I will strip the coin down to the metal with no regrets (not electrolysis)  and I have quite a few very nice coins that are stripped. I LIKE the nice clean metal as well as a perfect patina (and there ARE wonderful natural patinas, to say there aren't is absurd)...even some that are spotty, or mixed green/blues/blacks/browns can sometimes look fantastic.

I would say that I have always wanted a faster way to get past real hard dirt and I have quite a few coins that I have been cleaning for over a year now with distilled water, oil, brush, soap with periods of picking that still have a long way to go. I plan to possibly use a bit of lye but otherwise I think that if you are willing to wait long enough you will get down to where you need to be. I dont think there is any encrustation that NEEDS electrolysis unless you just dont want to put the time and effort into doing it the long way and are willing to possibly fry the coin. It seems a matter more of expediency than necessity. I could be wrong. I have been guilty of thinking coins had nothing and then after a year of soaks and scrubs, very slowly I start seeing more and more of the coin. I have a coin I bought from here that I though was a slug but I am now thinking after months of soaking that I will find some surface features on it. The rest of that uncleaned lot from Forum that has been being soaked, scrubbed and picked for months now and still I haven't seen any detail but I wont pull them until I get down to the metal (again last resort) to see if I cant find details...I will wait as long as it takes...will I find no detail and the time is wasted? maybe...but its not a lot of work...more a lot of waiting...but I might get a great coin out of it, then I will be very happy.

As a very last resort I have used mixtures that will strip the patina because 1. the coin was cleaned to the patina and still showed no detail, stripped them to the metal just to see if I could find ANYTHING AT ALL, 99% of the time I find nothing and it was a slug just like I thought but once in a blue moon you find a bit of detail. 2. VERY rare case when I feel a need to try to THIN a patina (tricky) I have never used electrolysis to strip them but other methods. 3. More often than not I end up with a coin down tot he metal because I over cleaned then decided instead of part metal part patina spotty look I would bite the bullet and clean it down.

In the end...I probably will never use electrolysis simply because I dont need to, even taking off the patina there are other ways.
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