Classical Numismatics Discussion
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Coin Photography, Conservation and Storage  |  Topic: Protocol for handling ancients? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Poll
Question: What is the protocol for handling ancients?
Only handle bronze/copper   -1 (3.8%)
Only handle bronze/copper & silver   -2 (7.7%)
All ancients ok to handle   -23 (88.5%)
Total Voters: 21

Author Topic: Protocol for handling ancients?  (Read 5425 times)
Noah
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« on: December 20, 2008, 12:04:35 pm »

I have seen various opinions on handling ancients.  Some say to only touch bronzes and coppers.  Others say that silver is ok too.  I have even seen the occasional person say that handling gold is fine.  So, what is the concensus on this?

Best, Noah
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casata137ec
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2008, 01:10:42 pm »

Why would handling gold harm it?

Chris
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slokind
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2008, 01:31:37 pm »

On some surfaces, barring a good patina, a very sweaty fingerprint (or one from fingers that have been mucking around in chemicals!) can be left on a coin and actually affect it much as etching acid would.
Wash and dry your hands.  Not obsessively but as required.
Pat L.
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CzarMike
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2008, 07:57:00 pm »

I am never dealing with anything of major value so I handle it all.
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moonmoth
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2008, 03:33:48 am »

I have seen bronze coins from the 1960s with permanent fingerprints on their shiny fields, so I would go along with Pat, particularly for anything that looks flat and shiny.  And if you have applied hand cream recently, definitely wash, or you will be oiling up your coins.
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Noah
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2008, 06:04:57 pm »

Why would handling gold harm it?

Chris

Well, that is what I am asking I suppose.  I damaged some of my world coins when I used to collect them as a kid.  I had one gold coin from Brazil and left a shimmery, oily, rainbow like sheen to it (like a puddle of oil you see in a parking lot) when I handled it once.  I never got it back to the way it originally looked.  It seems to me that Pat's advice is the most prudent and common sense.

Best, Noah
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museumguy
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2008, 05:51:31 am »

Noah,

The best way to handle coins would be to wear white cotton gloves (similar to what curators would use when handling museum objects).  However, I too would endorse what Pat recommends if gloves aren't available or you just don't want to wear them.  To be honest, I don't but do try to clean my hands

Steve
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2008, 10:58:27 am »

museumguy: It is better PR for a museum to ask everyone to wear those gloves than to ask everyone, please, to wash their hands and dry well...  I wouldn't touch a white-ground (or, really, any other) Greek vase without the gloves or, for that matter, any  terracotta objects or white marble (apart from old acquisitions with a century of varnish or wax on them): they are absorbent.  The marble is hard to clean, the white-ground vase almost impossible.  But it is more important to provide a tray with soft padding and make them hold the objects over it or, better yet, a laundry basket half-full of packing material (Herbert Cahn's provision, though too big for coins).
The gloves ARE conducive to dropping.  Floors always have some grit or resin from dry mops...  Half a century ago (I do not speak for the present) the ANS let us handle coins barehanded and make casts.  Terracotta figurines (think Tanagras) are hollow, low-fired, and have white and pale-colored paint; these are the most demanding of correct handling.
Pat L.
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museumguy
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2008, 05:47:39 am »

Pat,

I think not so much PR for the wearing of cotton gloves but as a quick and relatively failsafe method to "appeal" to those folks who diligently wash their hands but while handling coins or other artifacts inadvertantly run their hands through their hair, touch another object, shake hands, eat their lunch, cough into their hands, etc.  That was my point.  Otherwise, you are correct.

Steve
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Noah
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2009, 12:19:41 pm »

Thanks Pat, Steve, and everyone who has voted for your input on this topic.

Best, Noah
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4to2CentBCphilia
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2009, 03:19:34 pm »

So how do you handle ancient coins?

Well, at Triton and Gemini the last two days, viewers had coins out of their sleeves and under the lights with loops for better viewing.

Bronze, silver, gold, $40 coins and $40,000 coins.

People held them by the edges, laid them flat in the palm of their hand, etc.

Unless you just pulled your hand out of a jelly jar, I venture to guess that washed hands and white gloves are not really necessary.


How do you store your coins?

Well I have heard that wood cabinets of many types can emit vapors which adversely affect the coins.

However, the Jacob Stein collection in Gemini had a high percentage of beautifully rainbowed silver coins. The guess by HJB's folks was that the collection was stored in a coin cabinet that emitted vapors which rainbowed the coins.

My first request was that they find out what type of cabinet he owned, so I could store mine similarly.


BR

Mark






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Fi
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2009, 09:04:22 am »

I spent a morning viewing some of the British Museum's collection of coins (specifically 12 Caesars, but a mixture of gold, silver and bronze) a couple of months ago. The only instruction given  was to handle them by the edges, although I did wash my hands first and was careful about touching my hair etc- the same process that I would observe for handling my own coins.

The trays of Galba and Otho aurei were pretty special.
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David Atherton
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2009, 12:43:09 pm »

I handle my denarii with finger tips by the edge and have not had a problem yet. I do have a denarius that does have a finger print on it, which has been a stubborn stain to remove.

You can faintly see the finger print at 3 o'clock on the obverse and the reverse.
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slokind
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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2009, 05:17:57 pm »

As with, for example, gelatin-silver film and prints (or collodion on glass), if you take your fingers out of chemicals (viz, what interacts strongly with the metal in question, or with celluloid, in the case of collodion) you may leave fingerprints.  Persons engaged in cleaning thus are likelier than anyone else to have left the prints on a denarius: suppose they'd been cleaning a clump of LRBC and didn't stop to wash their hands well.  Some of these can quite ruin the object.
Pat L.
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David Atherton
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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2009, 06:22:41 pm »

Pat, you may be correct. I have often wondered if the person who left those prints behind on my denarius knew they had done it?

This topic has reminded me about my problem denarius. Such a wonderful portrait, such an awful blemish.

If anyone knows of a safe way to remove those prints (I have tried repeated short soaks in lemon juice, is this correct?), please let me know!
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2009, 02:09:52 pm »

For my coins and for my schools small collection I've always just washed my hands, or at best placed the coin on a clean sheet of paper and manipulated it with a pencil eraser.  But thats just my two cents.
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wandigeaux (1940 - 2010)
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2009, 03:09:11 pm »

As a dealer in first editions, I must wash my hands 50-60 times a day; as for gloves, what better way to up the odds of dropping one of my little treasures and having it shatter, dent, or be lost forever in the clutter of my office.  Once a fairly nice small coin was lost for a month, and only found when I stepped on it in my bare feet, and a couple have utterly vanished.  George Spradling
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