Numismatic and History Discussions > Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion

Desert Patina cleaning Project, step by step !!

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Also, do you let the coin dry or is it wet?  Do you need to wet it again as you clean?

Salem Alshdaifat:
The tool is Dental tool, I sharpen it till it is realy sharp.

The down to up : when I clean the coin I make the direction of the tool from low area to high area, this way I know for sure that I wont by mistake take more desert patina than what I should, and it is the same as from the edges and sides to the center.

wet or dry : as bigginer I advice you to use the wet method till you are sure you can do the job without scraching the coin or removing extra dirt.

by time your hand will work realy by it self and will know the way, you always have to shave the coin, dont push the tool hard, and dont push at curves or between letters.

best regards.

Shukran Salem.  I have tried this several times based on the information you and Kevin previously posted and comments from others but I have never been able to get good results.  These directions add more details so I look forward to trying them (though sadly I am in the process of packing my coins up for a house cleaning-rental-posting abroad process and won't be able to spend much quality cleaning time until I am re-united with everything in October).

Does everyone use a dental tool and if so sharpened?  What do you use, Joe and Ghengis Jon??  I tried the unsharpened dental pick as in Kevin's older posts and could not remove enough dirt.  I tried scalpel and removed too much.

Likewise, Joe and Ghengis Jon, do you do the whole things under bino microscope, or just the details?  I do all my scalpel/x-acto work under microscope but have never though of using it for "Desert Patina".

Finally, as a related question, why do you find almost exclusively black patina under the desert dirt but, conversely, rarely find black patina under other types of dirt?  Chemical? Heat related??


Joe Sermarini:
I use a scalpel, the surgical kind.  I believe these are much better than exacto blades.  I work under a binocular microscope.  Under the scope if I accidentally scratch the coin, when I pull it out from the scope, the scratch usually isn't visible because it is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. 

We have had a few posts explaining the chemistry of different color patinas but I can't remember what they said.

I use binocular googles and a modified wood vice for most of my cleaning work.  For the minute detail work I use a bino microscope available to me at my employer over the weekends.  I don't own a professional numismatic company like Joe so I can't really justify the expense of buying one.

I use a dental pick for most detail work.  I sharpen the picks as needed with a 1/2 hp Craftsman Bench Grinder, which is a lot faster than a file or whetstone.  A pick will take 2-3 sharpenings before they must be discarded.  For 95% of coins that have dirt or soft encrustations, I find that a nylon brush and dental pick is sufficient.

I use an exacto knife for the heavy or thick encrustations.  Basically the rough work.  Its much easier and cheaper to replace the blades as they get brutalized than to replace a scalpel. 

A scalpel is the most effective tool.   It is not something that can be effectively sharpened and therefore is simply replaced when dulled.  But when you're getting down to a very thin layer of encrustation or field work, a scalpel cannot be beat.  There are two primary styles of scalpel available - straight edge and rounded.  I find the rounded to be the most versatile. 

Don't ignore other tools like diamond dusted scrapers or Dremel tools.  Each has their place.   Applications using these, however, would be a whole new thread.  Hope my two follis helps.


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