Dark Spots on Silver Coins
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19 posts in this topic

I am curious if the dark spots on the attached silver coin (e.g. reverse near the "L" in Dollar and near the "ME" in America) is silver oxide/sulfide or degradation of the silver resulting from improper storage in too humid an environment?  I am asking because the spots actually appear to have a reddish-brown like color, and not a very dark or black appearance.

Silver does not "rust" like iron or steel (with rust on steel presenting as a reddish colored deposit), it breaks down or oxidizes which often has a dark or black appearance.  It can be a general surface condition over time (i.e. tarnish), or localized like on this coin from slight/localized imperfections that make it more susceptible to oxidation.  I think it's oxidation of the silver, but it just doesn't look like what I have seen before.

1921-D Morgan Dollar BU Purchased Pics SPOTS.jpg

Edited by EagleRJO
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Likely silver chloride. Can be removed by careful dipping. The coin looks AU from the photos. Wait for other opinions and suggestions.

:)

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Posted (edited)
On 7/12/2022 at 4:39 PM, RWB said:

...The coin looks AU from the photos ...

It's supposed to be BU, and I really like the coin except for the dark spots, which I got for a good price.  It has a nice shine and reflection when tilted near a light source which you just can't convey with pics.  But I may just return it or exchange it because it shouldn't have been shipped as a BU coin with those dark spots.

Edited by EagleRJO
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On 7/12/2022 at 4:39 PM, RWB said:

Likely silver chloride. Can be removed by careful dipping ...

Careful dipping in what? Acetone, which I have heard (along with a product called MS70 Coin Brightener) can be used to remove dirt/spots without effecting the condition/luster of the coin?

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The spot at 6 o'clock looks more like a toning spot, maybe where the person who dipped it was holding it.   The spots alone do not determine if the coin is AU or BU, but I also agree that it is a dipped AU.   On the obv in front of the face, all that chatter is a sure sign of light circulation, this is the type of "slider" that would have been sold as BU prior to TPG grading.

Acetone will not have any effect on toning, it will only work on organics, crud, gunk etc.   MS70 can work to some degree on this but its not worth the effort on a slider AU.

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On 7/12/2022 at 8:47 PM, Coinbuf said:

The spot at 6 o'clock looks more like a toning spot, maybe where the person who dipped it was holding it.   The spots alone do not determine if the coin is AU or BU, but I also agree that it is a dipped AU.   On the obv in front of the face, all that chatter is a sure sign of light circulation, this is the type of "slider" that would have been sold as BU prior to TPG grading.

Acetone will not have any effect on toning, it will only work on organics, crud, gunk etc.   MS70 can work to some degree on this but its not worth the effort on a slider AU.

What do you think they dipped it in?  Acetone? And why would someone dip the coin if it's going to leave those marks?

Also, by slider do you guys here mean simply an AU58 that maybe could "slide" by as a MS occasionally, or do you mean the unscrupulous practice of cleaning a coin to try and make it look like a BU?  I have heard it used both ways.

In any event I'm returning the coin because I'm not happy with the condition/spots, and I think your right about the marks on the face. 

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I agree with the others and want to say buying a raw coin on line is a very chancy way to go. There is no way to tell from internet photos what the real condition of the coin is. My rule  is I only buy raw coins if they are in my hand. Anything other than that type of purchase has to be a graded coin and even those can make me scratch my head sometimes. If you can post a coin on a thread here before you order it you may get some good feedback. It is still a issue that photos do not tell all.  

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Posted (edited)

That one was from a larger dealer that posts representative pictures of the ones they have in stock, and you have 7 days from when you get the coin to return it for a refund for no reason with some cost to you.  But where there are issues with the coin, like this one which was not in at least the condition represented, there is no re-stocking fee and they pay for return postage/insurance, so it really isn't a big deal just a hassle.

I have been going with raw coins from the larger dealers with guarantees, or from local dealers where I can actually look at the coin before I buy it, for the Morgans I am collecting because they just are not that valuable for the most part to get TPG slabbed coins.  There are probably around a dozen or so more expensive ones in the collection where I am going with TPG coins.  I have been a little hesitant to buy raw coins from other than larger dealers, so I appreciate the offer and maybe I will try a few independents for some of the raw ones they don't have in stock and post some pics here.

About this one ... it's going back anyway, but I was just really curious about the spots because I haven't seen silver coins with reddish-brown spots before. @RWBI thought horn silver (silver chloride) was dull/dark grey or black and associated with really old silver coins, and not reddish in color on more modern silver coins.  And I'm still curious about what ppl think it was dipped in.

Edited by EagleRJO
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On 7/12/2022 at 7:22 PM, EagleRJO said:

It's supposed to be BU, and I really like the coin except for the dark spots, which I got for a good price.  It has a nice shine and reflection when tilted near a light source which you just can't convey with pics.  But I may just return it or exchange it because it shouldn't have been shipped as a BU coin with those dark spots.

Disturbance in the left obverse field resembled handling == AU.

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On 7/12/2022 at 11:43 PM, EagleRJO said:

What do you think they dipped it in?  Acetone? And why would someone dip the coin if it's going to leave those marks?

Also, by slider do you guys here mean simply an AU58 that maybe could "slide" by as a MS occasionally, or do you mean the unscrupulous practice of cleaning a coin to try and make it look like a BU?  I have heard it used both ways.

In any event I'm returning the coin because I'm not happy with the condition/spots, and I think your right about the marks on the face. 

When people are applying the terms of art CORRECTLY, “dipping” is always a thiourea/acid solution to remove or lighten silver sulfides from the coin. “Dipping” is NOT IN ACETONE. Acetone is completely different from “dipping”. As someone else has written, acetone removes organic matter, aka crud and schmutz. 

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On 7/13/2022 at 8:24 AM, EagleRJO said:

And I'm still curious about what ppl think it was dipped in.

As a general rule if you are talking to an experienced collector or dealer the term "dip" or "dipped" is in reference to the use of an acidic solution, an example of this would a product called Jeweluster or EZ-est.  Dip   That is what I will always be referring to when I, and most here, use the term dip.    Acetone is more often associated with the use of the term "bath" as coins can be safely emersed in pure acetone for hours with no change to the metal.   Acetone is not an acidic solution and will not eat or remove any of the metal, it will loosen or dissolve organic matter, good for things like PVC or dirt and grime.   But as it does not attack the metal it mostly has no effect on the toning except some types of artificial toning, real toning is bonded to the surface of the coin.   As the tone (really silver sulfides) build up the color of the toning will darken because as the toning gets thicker it presents as different interference levels to light.  That is why there are rainbow toned coins which exhibit many different colors.

Because dip is acidic most people use something to hold the coin while dipping, something other than their fingers, many coin supply stores sell plastic tongs.   Much like a vice grip type of tool but soft and will not mar the coin's surface.    But because that tiny portion of the tool is in contact with the rim of the coin the dip may not remove the toning in that small area, much like that area around 6 o'clock on this coin.

Now on places like etsy, fakebook, twitter, even ebay, and others where some gather to fleece the public, the term "dip" may have many meanings as some many of the sellers on sites like those are very inexperienced and only there to make a quick buck.

Depending on the strength of the solution (most dilute dip with water) and length of time the coin is emersed in the dip a layer of the surface of the coin is removed or eaten away.   Too long, not enough dilution, too many trips to the dip jar or some combo of these conditions will leave a coin with what is called a dipped out and lifeless look.   That happens when so much of the surface is removed that the flow lines are so diminished that there is no luster, no cartwheels left on the coin surface.   You may also hear someone call a coin like this as burnt.

 

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Thanks, I had heard of coins being cleaned with things like acetone or MS70, but not really dipping.  You would think they would dip it twice to get rid of the mark where they were holding it, like at 6 o'clock.  But maybe they did, and that's why there is another mark on the rev near the rim at 2 o'clock ... lol.  Its leaves a really strange reddish-brown spot and a white-washed appearance that I hadn't seen before, so thanks for explaining.

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On 7/14/2022 at 3:46 AM, EagleRJO said:

Another dipped Morgan?  I see more of those reddish-brown marks.

s-l1600.jpg

Tough to say, could be some left over tone that did not fully dip off if the coin was dipped.   This photo is not lit well, perhaps intentionally to hide or maybe just in a hurry/poor photography skills, now way to know for sure.   If the coin was dipped and not rinsed well dip residue will quickly tone back as brown like this too, I would grade this AU from just this single pic, perhaps higher with more and better photos.

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On 7/15/2022 at 1:04 PM, Coinbuf said:

Tough to say, could be some left over tone that did not fully dip off if the coin was dipped.   This photo is not lit well, perhaps intentionally to hide or maybe just in a hurry/poor photography skills, now way to know for sure.   If the coin was dipped and not rinsed well dip residue will quickly tone back as brown like this too, I would grade this AU from just this single pic, perhaps higher with more and better photos.

That last one is an 1878-CC listed on eBay for $400 that I figured was in the XF-AU range looking at the obv/rev, which is overpriced imo even if an AU.  I ran away when I saw the reddish stains and didn't even make an offer.

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On 7/15/2022 at 12:21 PM, EagleRJO said:

That last one is an 1878-CC listed on eBay for $400 that I figured was in the XF-AU range looking at the obv/rev, which is overpriced imo even if an AU.  I ran away when I saw the reddish stains and didn't even make an offer.

Be careful not to fall into the tunnel vision trap, many new collectors become very focused on a single aspect of a coin and forget to look at the coin as a whole.   In your op coin those tone or brownish spots concern me far less than the poor photo and what it might be hiding as opposed to what it shows.   I'm not suggesting that you should ignore spots or toning but just remember to evaluate the whole coin.

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Overall, I did like the coin in general looking at the original posted photos, but:

(1) I thought it was way overpriced at $400 even if it was an AU, and that there was no way the seller would come down to around $275 to $300, which I think would be a fair price for an AU.  I can't see it grading above AU with the number of marks, scratches and scuff marks on the coin, but I am pretty new at this.  For just a little more than the list price of this one I can get a solid raw BU from a reputable dealer.

(2) The reddish marks and whitewashed appearance bothered me right off the bat, and I don't want a dipped slider in my collection no matter how good of a deal it might be or what it grades out to be ;-)

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I agree that $400 is too much for a raw coin, I have seen MS62 NGC graded coins crossing the auction blocks for around $450 including one at Stacks last month.   But these are the pitfalls of ebay, ebay fees are high and a seller can ask anything he wants, it is up to the buyer to decide yes or no.

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