Numismatic and History Discussions > Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion

Recently Finished LRBs


Ken W2:

I finished these 30 mostly LRBs in the last month or so.  They are the survivors of 60 or 80 coins I’ve been soaking, brushing, and mechanically cleaning on and off for probably two years.  Most will fully attribute. None are particularly nice. Waxing might help bring out the details on some, although I may leave them as is. The Constantinople Commemorative from Cyzicus and posthumous  Constantine from Alexandria are perhaps the best of the group. Just thought I’d share.

Jeff E2:
Very nice!  Two years is some dedication!  As a newbie, I'm curious if you can share what you've learned about the process over these two years.  How do you decide which ones to work on and which ones to abandon?  Has that process changed over time?  Right now, I'm trying to restore everything I get, but I'm finally learning some coins can't be saved, it seems. 

Curtis JJ:
Congrats, looks like a job well done and a lot of pretty good fully attributable, attractive late Roman bronzes.

It can take a long time cleaning that way. (I remember giving up on some large encrusted AEs after maybe 10-15 years soaking in oil olive when I finally stopped.)

Ken W2:
Thanks guys.
Jeff, I started cleaning in 2013, mostly coins acquired from two sellers of uncleaneds in Serbia, and it would have been a rare time since then that I haven’t had coins soaking in DW. At first I tried to fully clean every coin and over cleaned many coins. Patience— working slowly over time and a little at a time on each coin and accepting that every bit of dirt doesn’t need to be removed to have a good coin— is key. Cleaning is a process and sometimes a very long process. When you’re finished is a matter of preference.  To me, eye appeal and fully attributable, are the main standards, but there is variation.  I’ll fully clean VRBS ROMA or Hand of God coins even if I can tell early on it won’t attribute just because I like those issues. What percentage of coins will be fully attributable and have eye appeal of course depends on what you start with, but in my experience it’s been well under 50%— probably more like 30%. Below are three examples of common LRBs which I consider to be good results starting from really dirt encrusted coins. But, I don’t throw any coins away. I segregate “discards” generally into three categories 1) maybe work on some more later, 2) possibly strip, and 3) unrestorable. Many folks frown on stripping, but I fall in the camp of thinking that an attributable stripped coin is better than hard encrusted unrecognizable coin, but stripping is a last resort.  Many times stripping just reveals a barely recognizable worn and pitted  bronze disc. But, sometimes it pays off.  I stripped the Carinus ant below because it was encrusted with concrete like deposits and then treated it with liver of sulfur solution, and frankly I’m happy with the coin.
Again, welcome to the hobby and FORVM. There probably will be times you’ll get frustrated with cleaning. When that happens, put some MORE in DW to soak and take a break for a few months.  Soaking in DW can do no harm, just change the water every month or two to get the benefit of deionized water. 


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