Numismatic and History Discussions > Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion

The temptation of the brass brush


Jeff E2:
Having gone through several routines of soaking in DW then using dental pick to remove dirt, I found there to be another layer, I'll call it the wax layer, which was persistently attached to the coin to matter what I tried. At first I thought it was the patina, but I found that I could scrap it, but it seemed to still stick to the surface and ended up just moving around.  Fast forward to reading about using a brass brush and picking one up from the hardware store - apparently the brush is used by electricians and was in the welding department.  But when I used the brush on my previously cleaned coins, the troublesome final dirt layer came right off and my coins had so much more depth to them.  In fact, the brush revealed details of the coin that had still been hidden.  But there was a cost, as some of the high parts of the coin became irrecoverably golden.  Since then I've found it so hard to go back to the DW+dental pick method since the brush is so much quicker AND since I still don't know how to remove the final waxy layer without the brush.

Does anyone know what this wax layer I mention could be?  Here's a still from a video I made while cleaning a join that shows how it behaves like wax and sticks to the coin.

Bill W4:
I have used acetone to remove wax and whatever from coins.  You may want to try that.

Nathaniel N2:
You might want to consider purchasing a fiberglass brush. In my experience, they clean surfaces much more gently than brass brushes thus avoiding the gold points, while digging the dirt out of the finer details. $7 for 3 is a good price and you will want to buy a lot of them. I was told they last a lifetime, but I love mine so much that I abuse them on coins the instant I start seeing details. They are the best thing to clean up surfaces with a thin layer of gucky stuff.


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