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Index Of All Titles


Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Armenian Numismatics Page
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
A Case of Counterfeits
Clashed Dies
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Edict on Prices
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Friend or Foe
Greek Alphabet
Greek Dates
Greek Mythology Link
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Helvetica's ID Help Page
Historia Numorum
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Nabataean Numerals
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Mints
Roman Names
Serdi Celts
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
The Sign that Changed the World
The Temple Tax Hoard
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
What Did The Julio Claudians Really Look Like?
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Widow's Mite

Patina 101

Patina is the oxidized metal that coats many ancient bronze and copper coins. It is usually green, but can be many colors including blue and red. The main reason you want to preserve it is that it is usually attractive and the coin under the patina usually isn't as nice. A coin with an attractive patina is often worth more than a coin that does not have a patina at all. A common coin, like a common Constantine dynasty AE3, that has been stripped of its patina down to bare shinny metal is almost worthless.   See the extended definition below.

An amazing rare blue patina. Coins with a blue patina must be treated gently.  Most coins this color are soft chalky and damaged. Not this one. 

A chocolate patina, lightly worn on the high-points highlighting the design...wow!

Sometimes a coin can be improved by removing an uneven patina...not usually...not this one. 

A very attractive lime green.

A touch of red. Some have said this is artificial and the coin is tooled.  It is from the same hoard as the Agrippa as the coin above. Most of the high-grade Agrippa ases in collections today are likely from this same hoard.  It is not tooled and the patina is natural.  Red is most often an indicator of harmful corrosion but in this case it is very thin red toning or patina on copper similar to that of highly collectible red U.S. pennies.

Notice some encrustation remains, but this coin is perfect the way it is!

Like all the coins on this page, this one is worth far more with this beautiful patina than it would be without it.

Near black highlighted by a red earthen fill (that is red dirt). Would you clean it? I hope not.

This blue-green must at least double the value.

 Hopefully, you have an idea what a patina is now and why it shouldn't be removed.

Dictionary of Roman Coins

Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.

Patina is that beautiful and brilliant kind of time-created varnish, of a green or brownish color, which covers the surface of some ancient brass medals.  It prevents them from deteriorating, and is regarded as an evidence of antiquity. 

The agreeable appearance of this splendid rust, having rendered it particularly desirable to the taste of the Italians, they gave it the name of Patina verde, as counterfeiting the emerald.  The French numismatists introduced the expression into their own language by calling it Patine

Because it is desirable patina may be imitated to improve the appearance of coins.  Patina does not, however, readily attach itself to brass and copper: this depends much on the state of the soil in which the medals have lain for ages.  The fabricators of false coins have endeavored to imitate it with salammoniac, vinegar and other artificial compounds; but a coating of this kind is easily removed, and it is by no means difficult to detect the fraud.  On the other hand the genuine patina becomes so inherent to the metal that it would be impossible to scrape it off without injuring the medal which it covers. 

False patina is in general black, coarse, and glossy or the color of verdigris, tender to the point of any sharp instrument.  The genuine patina or antique encrustation is most often extremely brilliant and hard as the metal itself. 

Some more sophisticated false patinas are made by applying ground genuine patina material in binding medium or using other more advanced chemical methods.  Sometimes, but rarely for an experienced collector, the result is convincing. Even the most convincing false patina is more likely than the genuine to wear or peel over time.  

Any coin with a false patina must be examined carefully to ensure the coin itself is genuine and to detect any tooling. 

The novice, unfamiliar with genuine patina must be cautious before condemning patina as artificial.  Genuine patina can be softer, particularly if it is blue.  A black patina is very often genuine and formed naturally in the desert soils of the the middle east. 

Powdery light green deposits, particularly in pits in the coin, are not patina but are an indicator of harmful oxidation, commonly referred to as bronze disease.  Such coins must be treated to prevent further damage.

Silver coins do not develop patina.  Silver darkens with age, which is referred to as toning.  Thick black silver oxides, similar to patina, can develop in areas on a coin or cover it entirely.  This is called horn silver.  Horn silver is exceedingly difficult to remove and under the protruding oxide the silver is severely damaged because the oxide is made up mostly of the silver of the coin. 

View whole page from the Dictionary Of Roman Coins

- 101

Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Greek Coin Collecting 101
Magnification 101
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Bust Types 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101