There always has been and will continue to be unscrupulous individuals dubbed "Coin Doctors" that alter the appearance of coins to increase a coins value. The techniques used are varied, limited only by the imagination of an individual who wants to deceive coin buyers. The practices of "Coin Doctors" are not forthright and many in the numismatic industry, including Millyard Coins and Cards LLC, condemn this practice. At a minimum, when a coin has been altered it should be clearly stated to the potential customer that a coin has been cleaned, whizzed, polished, artificially toned etc. to ensure it is purchased for the real and not fabricated value.
Over the years collectors preferences change, usually seasoned collectors seek out naturally toned numismatic coins. The current trend, and has been for some time, the choice of brilliant uncirculated numismatic coins. As a result new collectors can fall prey to the "Coin Doctors" who offer bright and shiny altered coins that enhances or creates a false mint luster sold as raw coins. By changing the appearance the supposed value of the coin will increase. Unfortunately, in some instances the techniques used have damaged the coins thereby decreasing the value.
Brief Description Of Techniques To Alter Coins
Thumbing: This is a technique used to temporarily alter the design of the coin by rubbing the thumb over an area that may have small imperfections on the design. The natural grease, sometimes called "nose grease" on the thumb when applied with a little pressure causes friction that dulls the area causing slight imperfections to be less noticeable.This is used on areas that are shiny, especially high spots caused by wear or a weak strike. Thumbing is seen on Morgan and Peace Dollars, occasionally on gold copper and nickel. After awhile the area that was altered will begin to darken and appear smudged. Sometimes thumbing is hard to detect if applied lightly.
Whizzing: The singular purpose of whizzing is to brighten and artificially enhance a coins luster. It is done by applying a wire brush that melts the coins surfaces moving the metal to removing small surface imperfections that have made the coin dull and lost its luster. Tell tale signs, although difficult to detect without strong magnification, include a ridge of metal on one side of the detail, especially letters and an unnatural swirling of the coins surface.Rather than having a cartwheel effect when examining the luster, the luster on a whizzed coin is explosive, it has a singular luster or shine diffusing the light in multiple directions with the absence of a cartwheel.
Polishing: This is a technique using fine abrasives to restore luster or bring the coin to a mirror finish. By polishing a certain amount of metal will be removed from the coin. Using this technique multiple times will damage the coin and its value.
Cleaning: There are various methods used to clean coins or remove tarnish from silver bullion. The process is known as dipping, whether using a home DIY recipe, Acetone,Xylene or other chemical. Occasionally, cleaning may be required in the event of light dirt, sometimes mold.However, restoration should be performed by a professional It makes the item shiny, brilliant and eye appealing. Multiple dippings on coins or bullion will eventually damage the surface, loosing its natural luster. Dipping will give the coin a slick or slimy feel.
Plating: Yes, I wrote plating as in chrome plating. There have been cases where Coin Doctors" have had regular coins in circulation chrome plated to offer them to the public as proof coins. Need I say more!
Artificial Toning: Morgan Dollars have been known to have a chemical reaction causing a natural rainbow toning while in storage for a period of time.They can be pricey and have been sought after by collectors. Unfortunately, some individuals have wanted to capitalize on this demand and attempt to artificially tone coins with chemicals and heat. For the most part artificially toned coins have colors that look are brighter, with the colors not naturally blending like a rainbow.
The common coins having their appearance altered would include Morgan Silver Dollars and Peace dollars usually sold as raw coins. There is not a specific coin that is exempt from the shannagins of deceitful individuals. A Collector/Investor needs to be aware of the tricks used and scrutinize the coins comparing them to coins shown to them by trusted coin and bullion dealers.
These are but a few of the techniques used to deceive coin buyers. Hopefully this brief introduction to the methods of "Coin Doctors" will encourage you to do more research into the area of coin alteration and counterfeiting.
Some resources to help you explore further:
To learn more about Millyard Coins and Cards LLC visit our website at www.milyardcc.com