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removing glue from coins

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I've got some coins that were foolishly glued to some sort of felt or flannel surface, so when they came up, they brought with them varying glue blobs covered with magenta cloth fibers. With no way to know what type of glue it is, other than that it's fairly old, what would you suggest to remove it? We can cross Googone off the list; no go.

A few of the coins are cartwheel silver dollars, a few are Buff and Liberty nickels, and a few are IHPs. None are any great shakes of value, though I'd prefer to impact them as little as possible while getting this crapola off them.

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46 minutes ago, jgrinz said:

Try Acetone


Figured that would be one of the good options, but also figured I'd see what other possibilities might exist. 

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Copy/paste from a thread on the Numista forum (poster was pnightingale):

"The good news is that the more expensive the coin, the easier it is to restore it. Gold coins don't ever really get much of a patina to have to worry about destroying it, less so silver coins and copper / bronze are the most likely to suffer but generally the cheapest. If you have any doubts about your abilities then ask your local coin dealer if he would do the job for you, at least for the more valuable specimens.

It's also important to understand that there is always a risk any time you attempt something like this and the risk falls entirely on your shoulders, not on those giving free advice.

So having got all that out of the way, let's put together some kind of batting order starting with the least drastic. These steps can be applied to all the coins and you should know when to stop. Don't fall into the trap of being so pleased with the early results that you continue making improvements until the coin is ruined.

Water. Warm, not hot and a lot a patience. I like to soak my coins in warm full sun on the kitchen window although my wife doesn't think much of it. . It sounds like the glue was applied some time ago so if it's the older type made from animal by products (horse bones) there a good chance it might simply dissolve. Note that it dissolves, not disappears. It leaves the coins and turns the water into a glue soup which now covers the entire surface. Repeat the soaking with clean warm water and keep rinsing and repeating until it's so diluted as to be non existent.

Next step is to try a gentle soap. I prefer liquid hand soap because I don't believe that dish soap or washing up liquid is quite as benign as we might think. (Yeah Rick even mild green fairy liquid, imagine that sung in a cracked baritone. Happy dreams brother.) This is quite a minority opinion so I'll expand a little. All detergents contain some type of degreasing agent otherwise, well.... they wouldn't work! What you are trying to do is remove the glue without removing the patina. This patina is AKA toning and is caused by many factors including airborne impurities, UV light..... and oils from dirty lil' fingers. So.... I'm suspicious of using something with a grease removing element on something which is made more desirable by greasy, long dead fingers. So repeat step one with a bit of soap and warmth.

Next I'd be going straight to the alcohol or acetone. I don't have much experience of the former apart from habitually abusing it but plenty of folks claim it's harmless. The same claims are made for acetone but it has a nasty habit of sometimes turning old copper a nasty pink color. I've never seen it do any harm to other metals though. This is the point where I'd be inclined to call it a draw.

If everything else has failed then it's time to get a toothpick out and try to physically crack the glue away. Or in the case of silver coins you can dip them, removing the glue along with the natural tone. Either choice is far from perfect. Don't be tempted to scrub away at the coin with a brush of polishing tool, you will just ruin it.

Finally, if you have succeeded, take a moment to finish the job off properly by making sure the coin is completely dry and free from lingering residues before putting it in an album or flip, or you'll be right back where you started after a few months. If the coin now has a patchy tone where the glue used to be it will even out over time. You can however take steps to hasten the natural process by creating an ideal toning environment. This has been discussed at some length already so a forum search on toning coins will point you in the right direction."

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