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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion (Moderator: bruce61813)  |  Topic: Simple coin cleaning tools? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Simple coin cleaning tools?  (Read 1341 times)
Joseph T
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« on: January 21, 2011, 01:46:10 pm »

Hello all,

I've found that one of the best way to get students interested about history is to get them to participate in hands-on activities. As such, I am very enthusiastically planning a introductary lesson to the "Ancient World" for my high school history classes in which they will clean their own ancient coin. (I'll buy a bulk lot of uncleaned coins, and each of my students can keep the coin they choose at random.) My students will then research anything they might find on the coins. If the uncleaned coins end up being blank slugs, then hopefully the activity will spur their interest in the subject.
 
I'm trying to put together a list of household materials I can buy/ have the students bring in to clean their coins. As of right now, I have:

Tooth brushes
tooth picks
dental picks
distilled water
mild soap
...

I am new to numismatics... so I am sure I am missing A BUNCH of simple tools I can have my students bring in to clean their coins. Would anyone have any suggestions? The tools/ cleaning agents would have to be safe enough for students have in school...

Also, would cola and rubbing alcohol be safe to use on the coins?

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!
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renegade3220
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 02:25:38 pm »

Don't use toothpicks.  They break to easy.  Get wooden skewers.  Then you can use them to have a kabob after  Wink
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Joseph T
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2011, 04:06:01 pm »

Thanks for the tip!

Do you have any idea on the use of rubbing alcohol or cola?
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renegade3220
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2011, 04:09:49 pm »

Also, skewers are much easier to hold, and they can be sharpened numerous time.

Cola is a mild acid therefore it can break up the gunk on the coins.  Most people would rather use olive oil soaks.  May take a few days in olive oil or more and it is messy but I would think it safer.  It is also mildly acidic.

I don't know about the use of MeOH.

Look around the boards for new collectors and the cleaning board.  type in key words in forvms search engine at the bottom of the page as well.  You will get more than you want!
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otlichnik
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2011, 02:30:52 am »

Joseph,

If you read through the cleaning threads on the forum here you will see that we generally counsel against chemical methods.  Stay away from rubbing alcohol and cola etc for cleaning coins.

Usually the best methods are to combine gentle mechanical cleaning with distilled water soaks.

I have done courses for kids age 10-13 at a Saturday am program at a school.  They usually ran 6 weeks.

We would spend part of each meeting on theory - power point presentation with some basics on ancient coins, what they showed, how to ID them , cleaning theory, etc - and then some actual cleaning time.

Cleaning sessions depend on the time you have in your class but I suggest something like:

During the first class start with triage.  Determine if the coins needs to be cleaned or can be cleaned.  Look at each coin while it is still dry. 

If it has already been stripped of all dirt and patina then there is little that can be done to enhance it.  If it has been truely stripped of patina and is all shiney or in bad shape then a gentle brushing with a SOFT brash brush will help bring out the details.  However, NEVER do this with a coin that still has its patina on it or looks nice. 

It may also have very little dirt on it and already be readable and look fairly nice.  A quick brush with a soft toothbrush will do.  Both these classes of coins are now ready for identification and storage. 

Identification is in some ways the most interesting part as you will link to actual history.  Storage should be in either a small paper coin envelope (they can write the details on the outside) or a clear platic "flip" (the coin goes in one pouch and a label can be made to insert in the other pouch.

However, most coins will need cleaning. 

For these you do a cycle of soak in distilled water and then clean (brush in circular motions) with 1) soft toothbrush, then 2) hard toothbrush made by cutting down the bristles of a toothbrush to 1/8 or 3/16 of an inch length, then 3) picking/scraping with a bamboo skewer.  This cleaning is safest to do while the coin is still wet or damp.  I would avoid any metal tools (dentail pick, pins, scalpels) until you do an advanced class with people who have done the above methods for some time.

You end each session by putting the coins in distilled water.  A little plastic container with lid for each student.  You write their name on top in indelible pen.

Thus for the first class you triage and then have to wet the ones you will clean.  For each subsequent class you take them out of their tub wet, clean them, and then put them back in with new distilled water.

During each cleaning session they should check the coins at the end and determine if it needs to go back into the soak till next class or it is cleaned enough to move to identification and storage (dry off on paper towel first).

As you need water and counter space I always did my classes in chemistry class rooms.  Art would do too.  If you don't have counters and water supply in your room it is much harder.  You will need 45 min to 1 hour for the cleaning portion of class.  An experienced collector could d the same work in 10-15 minutes (examine, brush and change water) but a bunch of kids takes much longer with chatting, water, mess, etc.

Hope some of this helps.

Shawn
 
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SC
(Shawn Caza, Vienna)
Joseph T
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2011, 06:59:19 pm »

Thank you very much! Very helpful!

I just ordered my first coin from Forum and the person I talked to agreed to send me a few uncleaned coins to plan a lesson around. Unfortunately, that person forgot to send the uncleaned coins along with the denarius I bought. Sad

I went ahead and bought some uncleaned coins for the "never ending cleaning contest". I figure I'd take a shot at the contest, and plan my lesson at the same time! Plus I'd figure it would be better to support this community by purchasing some uncleaned coins instead of begging for free ones.
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