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Author Topic: Roman Republican bronzes  (Read 1353 times)

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Offline Andrew McCabe

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Roman Republican bronzes
« on: November 04, 2009, 04:32:07 am »
I picked up the pictured uncleaned lot of Roman Republican bronzes intending more to look at them for identification experience rather than as serious additions to my collection. However it turns out that the lot probably contains some real rarities, several bronzes from Sardinia (Crawford 63,64,65) which probably provenances the entire lot, and is thus after all worth cleaning. The thing is, I've no specialist equipment and I don't wish to purchase any for what might be a once off activity. The coins are also different from LRBs, being typically made of heavily leaded bronzes as with most early RR AE; their encrustations are quite thick in some cases. Any advice as to how I could go about it using kitchen resources? I'm able to read quite well so a link to an appropriate existing thread may suffice. The coins range from 20mm to 35mm, ie relatively large. I guess I'd probaby prefer to err on the side of under- rather than over-cleaning.
cheers

Offline casata137ec

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2009, 08:21:26 am »
If you'd rather err on the under side, I would suggest simple soakings in distilled water and nightly brushing with a nylon brush. This should be as safe and cheap as you can get.

Chris
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Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2009, 09:32:21 am »
If you'd rather err on the under side, I would suggest simple soakings in distilled water and nightly brushing with a nylon brush. This should be as safe and cheap as you can get.

Chris

Thanks Chris, forgive the amateurish questions but the nature of Roman Republican bronzes is such that they generally don't benefit from cleaning. I've some 500 RR bronzes in my collection and have never cleaned any of them: coins which look like they need cleaning usually fall below a condition threshold that means they can't be positively ID'd (they just look like generic prow bronzes which is pretty worthless) without a positive ID they aren't worth cleaning..

What makes this different is that there is a visible to eye-sight MA semis and a C semis and potentially another rare Sardinian bronze, all valuable coins in any identifiable condition, but the nature of the encrustation means that they may not be visible to a camera. So they need to be made clearer.

Soft nylon brush: Does a soft toothbrush count as such?

Offline slokind

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2009, 12:22:52 pm »
If the DW soak and the soft nylon toothbrush (some recommend cutting the bristles to make them shorter) are ineffective, then (not requiring specialized equipment) you need a small, very sharp scalpel or an X-Acto knife (crafts knife) with a new small blade and (which I'm sure you have) a magnifier, say 10X, supported to leave both hands free.  And good light and patience.  With the coin dry very carefully set to work.
Since you have a lot including some quite common coins, start with one of them, a relatively large one, and see whether you can cultivate the touch needed.  As 'golden ancients' says, https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=55861.0 , Reply #3, don't hurry and don't use more than the gentlest pressure.  As for the WD-40, the chemically competent among us have explained why it will not hurt the coin, though its effectiveness varies according to what you're dealing with.  It's the stuff that will help open a corroded lock, available at any hardware store and at many supermarkets.
Anyhow, though they're not Republican, take a look at the work at the place that I linked to.
Somewhere, I remember, Curtis Clay describing how he worked with a scalpel, but I don't find it.
Pat L.

Offline areich

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2009, 12:30:34 pm »
What I wouldn't give for a video of someone cleaning a coin with a scalpel.
A description is well and good but I still haven't 'got it'.
Andreas Reich

Offline Andrew McCabe

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 02:39:35 pm »
If the DW soak and the soft nylon toothbrush (some recommend cutting the bristles to make them shorter) are ineffective, then (not requiring specialized equipment) you need a small, very sharp scalpel or an X-Acto knife (crafts knife) with a new small blade and (which I'm sure you have) a magnifier, say 10X, supported to leave both hands free.  And good light and patience.  With the coin dry very carefully set to work.
Since you have a lot including some quite common coins, start with one of them, a relatively large one, and see whether you can cultivate the touch needed.  As 'golden ancients' says, https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=55861.0 , Reply #3, don't hurry and don't use more than the gentlest pressure.  As for the WD-40, the chemically competent among us have explained why it will not hurt the coin, though its effectiveness varies according to what you're dealing with.  It's the stuff that will help open a corroded lock, available at any hardware store and at many supermarkets.
Anyhow, though they're not Republican, take a look at the work at the place that I linked to.
Somewhere, I remember, Curtis Clay describing how he worked with a scalpel, but I don't find it.
Pat L.

Thanks Pat, those are some unbelievable restorations. One coin that looks like it's under the crud is a Crawford 63 "C" mintmark As; there are only three known specimens all extremely worn, this crud-covered coin looks like it might hide a better coin than the others, and there are a lot of collectors of Republican Asses for which this is a key missing coin (including myself!). On the face of it my good experience in RR bronzes tells me an important rarity is hiding in there so I want to take it carefully..

It's the bright green coin in the bottom left hand quadrant of my pic by the way; the pic shows the reverse rotated clockwise 45 degrees. The coin doesn't look a lot better in the hand, but the underlying relief is quite high and appropriate lighting shows a prow style, Janus style and letter C position size and style that matches the known specimens. The bright green coin in the bottom right quadrant that looks just like a green splodge with brown tones, is hiding a MA Semis, also a very rare coin; my below illustrated example http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/3537908345/ would be considered a very decent specimen so that shows how elusive these are. For the style of coins with "C" mintmark see the other pic http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/3752894280/ in this case I believe my coin is probably the best known specimen; I'd just like to find the As to match under the green crud....

The quite decent looking semis in the middle right of my original pic looks to me like a Crawford 112/4 staff semis; that by itself rates as rare (although not as exceptionally rare as the Sardinian coins) and it was that single coin that prompted me to buy the entire lot; whilst the styles matches, the coin is too light and the letter S appears above the staff rather than before the prow, so I'm not sure if it's a regular issue. The coin at the far right of the picture is a Crawford 41/9 post-semilibral sextans http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/3537902497/ one can see the head of Mercury facing right in the pic; that just below it, in the extreme lower right hand corner, is probably an As of L.TITVRI L.F SABINVS dating from 90BC http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahala_rome/3585417686 with a Victory figure in front of the prow.

All in all, this being my first test of buying RR bronzes in a bag rather than individually, I think it's been a happy outcome even though pending restoration I can't be sure any will be better then existing coins and thus enter my collection.

cheers

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Roman Republican bronzes
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 08:54:17 pm »
Great coins, but this one needs to be treated for Bronze Disease. I would recommend a sewing needle held in a pin vice. the really heavy needles are easily held, very strong and sharp. You can work small areas very easily. But you do have a problem and you should soak the coin and work on the green areas that are marked in red. I would not delay this, it is still treatable and won't change the overall look of the coin if done carefully. If you leave it for any length of time, the damage will continue.

Bruce
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