The moment I have been waiting for has arrived and I received my 1876 Centennial Medal back from NCS fully graded in an oversize holder at MS-61.
Greetings all, a little more than one month ago I submitted an 1876 Centennial Medal that I had just purchased, to NCS for conservation. The medal struck in white-metal displayed black, almost goop-like residue on all the high points of the relief. The effect of this residue seemed to deaden the details of the devices on the medal and in particular, the faces and hair. It is also likely this residue was caused by years of cabinet friction. Additionally, the fields seemed to have a granular white luster with black, carbon-like spotting mainly on the reverse.
Conservation always involves a certain degree of risk. In the past, I have had conservation both enhance a coins appearance AND reveal ugly hairlines previously hidden beneath its patina. My best results have come from coins with PVC damage and carbon spotting. That said, this medal comes back to me with mixed results.
Now before I go on any further let me start by saying my medal in the hand has a better appearance than my pictures can display. The relief on this medal is high and looks much nicer in 3-D than on a 2-D photograph.
One positive effect of conservation came from removing some of the residue on the high points resulting in an overall enhancing of detail on the devices. The granular white luster from before has given way to a smooth luster giving the general appearance of even toning. On the other hand, the spotting on the reverse has a relief that I had not noticed before, and as you will observe, conservation failed to remove the spots that now appear transformed into obnoxious looking bumps.
Since conservation, fine parallel hairlines now appear in the field of the obverse to the left and above Lady Libertys head and arm. This leads me to wonder if NCS had tried something in that field to conserve the medal that did not quite work out. Those hairlines now make my medal appear cleaned. However, this was apparently overlooked and the medal got a full grade of MS-61. Not too bad Id say for a medal struck in a highly reactive coining metal such as white-metal.
This medal also comes struck in bronze and gilded copper that look much nicer, and for a moment, I considered buying one of the other medals. However, the white-metal version is much scarcer than either the bronze or the copper gilded version with a mintage of 593. Now my future Coin of the Month has taken her rightful place in my Inspirational Ladies set.
In summary the results were worth the effort of conservation but they were neither a total bomb nor the hoped for magic. In closing, may all your conservation efforts become all that you hope to attain.
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