Numismatic and History Discussions > Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion

Cleaning Question Roman Bronzes


Jeffrey D1:
I am working on cleaning 20 Roman Bronzes,  they aren't Late Roman but earlier in the Imperial era.  Most are big (30mm+) and heavy.

Out of the original 20, on first inspection

1 - showed excellent detail but had some crust/dirt in places
5  - showed partial / early signs of a detail
14 - were very dirty or crusty and showing no detail

I have been soaking them in olive oil since February, changing the oil monthly and taking them out for a scrub with a toothbrush and dish soap

Now,  I'd say after more than 3 months -

7 are showing excellent detail;  with 2 looking really good on both sides with just isolated pockets of dirt
7 are showing partial detail
6 are really showing no detail -  among the 6;  two are very smooth on both sides and appear to be blanks.  The other 4 are rough and I can't really say for sure they are improving - one has a really blotchy patina where the greenish color is gone

Whats next?  The regime is working but I don't want to damage them (if this is possible). 

Should I just keep going?  Or move the good ones to distilled water?

Opinions appreciated


Some photos would be helpfull if possible.Generally early roman bronzes are much more forgiving regarding cleaning then late romans but you never know.Once I forgot one late roman in olive oil for about a year.In the end half of the coin was strip from the patina.In my opinion remove the ones with exellent detail and try some mechanical cleaning,toothpicks ,exacto knives,needles if you are confident enough.The dirt should came off easily.But if you don't have experience in mechanical cleaning concentrate only on the dirt,leave the crust for later when you gain experience

Jeffrey D1:

I'll post some pictures so you can see where I'm at.

I'm pretty confident with the mechanical cleaning using a dental pick,  toothpicks and needles -  I've been cleaning Late Roman stuff.  It's very slow going and I use a microscope at 10x and pick at them a bit and return them to Distilled Water.


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