Picture this… you find old coins in a box as you’re cleaning out the house of a relative that’s recently passed away. You look up the coins online to see what they’re worth and get excited to see they could fetch you around $300 each. However, you also notice the coins are a bit dirty from sitting in that box for years, so you decide to give them a nice clean and polish them. You go to a shop to sell them, and the shopkeep tells you that they can’t even buy them for a tenth of what they are worth.
Coins can actually lose a lot of value when you clean them. This is why we never recommend that you clean your coins before you sell them.
Why Do Cleaned Coins Lose Value?
Cleaned coins lose value because most cleaning products are abrasive, you can easily damage the coins, and even non-abrasive cleaners can react poorly with other metals in the coins. When you clean your coins, you can also damage the design of the coin itself if you apply too much pressure while scrubbing, or if you scrub for too long. A coin’s design can be one of its most valuable assets, especially when the design is unique, rare, or no-longer in print. It’s one of the most important factors when buyers grade the coin. The coin can also become damaged during the drying process if the cloth you use to dry it is too rough. This causes scratches and blemishes that further decrease the value. When it comes to bullion coins, even your newer coins hold their value in their precious metal content, not their cleanliness.
What is Patina?
A coin’s patina is the layer of toning that a coin naturally develops over time. Patina development is how the metal in the coin naturally protects itself from the environment. Another important reason not to clean your coins is because a coin’s patina can help determine how much it is worth.
Silver coins will turn from a light grey to a darker brownish grey with even darker browns in the recessed areas of the coin.
Gold turns to a softer or warmer yellow over time since it is the least reactive of the metals. It may be harder to determine the patina on gold because of this. If your gold coins have a brown or dark-looking patina on them, it may mean that your coin was not made from solid gold, but was mixed with other metals.
Ready to Sell Some Dirty Coins?
If you have some coins you are looking to sell, you can contact us or come into our shop located in Upland, CA. Although we don’t require appointments, we definitely recommend them to make sure you can be serviced.
(Always talk to your CPA or Financial Advisor before making investments.)