• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Blindsided by Improperly Cleaned!



Borrowing from a term in W.K.F?s recent post, there is no better way to describe learning that your coins have been ?improperly cleaned? than ?blindsided?.

Greetings all, have you ever gotten your hopes up about a submission, only to discover your coin is ?not-gradable, improperly cleaned?? I?m sure that for many of you, myself included, this has happened on multiple occasions. I wish there were some way to take the risk out of submissions, but alas, there is none. To sum it all up in a familiar clich?, ?You win some and you lose some.? That said, I think the best any of us can hope for is to reduce the risk by educating ourselves about our coins before submitting them.

Through painful trial and error, I have found that dipping removes a coin?s luster, making the relief look dull and flat. Concentric hairlines across the face of the coin, visible when tilted towards the light, indicate cleaning, Washed out or shiny fields with toning shadows around the dentils, lettering and devices or uneven toning are warning signs of a possible cleaning. Eraser marks that appear as clouded toning in the fields of large silver coins or evidence of polishing on gold coins are a reasonable cause for hesitation. Fortunately, with education and experience, the average collector can identify these conditions. Unfortunately, as I will prove with my latest submission, identifying ?improperly cleaned? coins is NOT an exact science, even among professional numismatists.

My latest submission consisted of coins previously identified by NGC as improperly cleaned. Because some of these coins are somewhat valuable, I wanted to have them encapsulated to fill vacant slots in my registry sets. The following is a comprehensive list of the improperly cleaned coins and their final grades and detail grades.

1. 1877-S Trade Dollar AU details, improperly cleaned.

2. 1859 3-Cent Silver AU details, damaged (This coin previously returned damaged).

3. 1835 Half-Dime XF-45

4. 1876 20-Cent Piece XF-40

For any of you who have seen the recent movie ?The Blind Side?, I was blindsided in a positive way when two of my previously un-gradable coins returned with full grades. This begs to question, why didn?t my 20-cent piece and half-dime grade last time? Obviously, in the end, ?improperly cleaned? is subject to opinion. All this goes to show that as long as professionals cannot agree, the collectors cannot be 100% certain their submitted coins will grade. I think the collectors that PAY to have their coins professionally examined for grade should be given the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, I can see NGC?s side in that they warrant their grades and mistakes can cost them money and respect in the marketplace. After all the warranty IS part of what the collectors are paying for.

Sometimes, the hardest thing for me to do is trust my gut, because I want to believe the best. For instance, my submission also included four raw coins, two of which my gut said were problems. One blindside, and one grade. They are:

1. 1854 Half-Dime Arrows XF details, improperly cleaned.

2. 1859 Indian Head Cent VF details, improperly cleaned.

3. 1832 Capped Bust Quarter F details, improperly cleaned.

4. 1853 Seated Liberty Dime Arrows XF-40

The 1859 Indian Head Cent that my gut told me ?cleaning? based upon clear fields with toning shadows around the relief was confirmed by NGC. My original mistake was buying the coin in the first place, with my gut saying ?no?, and my heart ?yes?. I think I need my gut to win more of those arguments. The 1832 quarter had serious carbon spotting that NGC ignored, while finding improper cleaning that I missed. Upon closer examination, I could see a change in the toning around the date that easily could be construed as cleaning. The half-dime is a true blindside and I still cannot see the evidence of cleaning. In this case, the coin is not valuable enough to crack out and resubmit, so for now it will remain a mystery until I further educate myself. Happy collecting all!





Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now