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Cleaning Ancient Roman Coins


Welcome to the intriguing journey of antique coins that haven’t been cleaned!

We hope that like many of others, you will find this sport to be both addictive and instructive.
With the help of this kit, you now have everything you need to transform an old piece of metal into a special item with historical significance that will be valued for years to come.

Metal detectorists across Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa have just dug up these handmade coins from the ground, and they are still in their original form.

You will be the first to get the chance to discover what lies beneath the ages-old dirt.
With the aid of this Article you will also be able to determine whose rule the coin was produced during, as well as, in many cases, learn a range of other fascinating details about the piece.

The majority of the coins you possess are Roman in origin and date to the fourth century A.D.

The Western world underwent extraordinary change during this time.
Old pagan rituals were quickly being replaced by Christianity as it spread to the furthest reaches of Europe.
The burden of ongoing Barbarian invasions caused the Roman economy to collapse.
The many emperors of this era turned to issuing a lot of bronze currency to address this issue.
Roman citizens from all social classes, including the highest-paid nobles and lowest-paid peasants, received the coins.
Coinage made of gold and silver was also produced, although they had a greater influence on the military and the government.

This left the copper coins for the common man, who might have used them to purchase bread, oil, clothes, and other items for the household. The copper coins had little worth as they have today, so many were required to make purchases.  They were therefore readily misplaced, and attempts to find them were not difficult. The coins were permanently lost after being lodged in the soil over time. Forever, up until the present.

These coins are currently being discovered mostly because to the efforts of countless enthusiasts with metal detectors.
The majority of the time, the detectorists are looking for other ancient artifacts and either throw away the coins or accumulate them until someone will buy them in large quantities.
They ultimately end up in the hands of coin dealers, who sell any items they do not need for themselves.

Even if some of the coins turn out to be valuable rarities, cleaning them takes a lot of time and is therefore not cost-effective for them to do.

What to expect when you Clean Ancient Coins

Although the majority of the found coins from the former Roman Empire date to the fourth century, you may occasionally find coins from earlier or later Roman, Byzantine, Greek, Judaean, medieval, and other eras.

Not all of your coins will be easy to clean. In fact, many will be so worn out or damaged after cleaning that it will be impossible to tell them apart.

You can find a dud or a fantastic rarity because the coins are covered in the mud they were found in.
The only thing you can be certain of is that some ancient person’s lost money will be hidden beneath the earth. It’s all in good fun.

But, we have stacked the deck in your favor by purposefully deleting coins that are obviously flawed.
These include coins with holes, breaks, or other significant flaws.

Although you will be the first person in thousands of years to find these specific coins, hundreds of thousands of other coins have been cleaned over the years.
So, based on statistics, we can say that you should anticipate a sizable portion of your lot to include one or more of the following:

  • Fel Temp Reparatio
  • Gloria Exercitus
  • Vota issues
  • Victoriae
  • Securitas Reipublicae
  • Gloria Romanorum
  • Camp Gates

There are many more reverses anxiously awaiting your cleaning; these are simply the ones that appear most frequently in uncleaned coins.
You’re likely to find several coins from the third century, which frequently feature faces with radiating crowns.
There may be a few Roman coins from the fifth century that are difficult to identify because they are frequently very small in diameter.

Therefore, you shouldn’t anticipate finding gold coins. When the few pieces of gold that are in the ground are pulled up, they are instantly identified and separated from the other coins since gold does not tarnish or corrode in the dirt.
If they are, in the odd occasion, covered in a thick layer of dirt, they will be discovered as soon as the batch is hosed down before being distributed to dealers.

Untrustworthy ancient currency merchants occasionally assert that gold is discovered in their coin batches, however these are only polished brass coins.

These dealers prey on those who are new to the hobby and take advantage of their ignorance while frequently selling subpar merchandise.

The same is true for silver coins, but to a lesser extent, as it is for gold coins. About one or two hundred uncleaned coins include a silver coin.

A dealer may purposefully include a few low-value ones to spark interest. In either case, consider things as having been let to pass rather than slipping past. If a silver coin is totally covered in dirt before being cleaned, you will be able to tell that it has never been searched.

Cleaning tips

You must first identify the sort of coin in order to decide which strategy will work best for it.
Your uncleaned antique coins can be divided into three categories:

The first kind of coin is a lightly soiled one that, even though dirty, is frequently entirely attributable.
This particular coin, along with several others, most likely came from a hoard.
These coins were mostly protected from the ground itself since they were buried in clay pots or other similar receptacles.
Over the years, they absorbed rainwater, dust, and other debris from the area, which frequently provided the ideal environment for the coins to patina and acquire a thin layer of filth.

Hoard coins should be handled reasonably carefully, and delicate cleaning techniques should be employed.
First, make an effort to clean them with nothing but water and a brush.
If this doesn’t work, soak them in light mineral oil for a week or two, cleanse it, check to see if any improvement has been achieved, and repeat the process.

Hoard coins frequently arrive in a largely pristine condition with only sporadic minor deposits.
While it gives the fields a nice “old” appearance and has the extra advantage of boosting contrast, many collectors like to leave some of this dirt on the fields.
Enhanced contrast makes small writing and portrait features more visible.

The usual uncleaned coins are up next.
In contrast to hoard coins, these varieties frequently contain distinguishable features that may be seen through a thicker layer of grime.
Yet, unlike hoard coins, these were discovered individually or in small groups after being buried for hundreds or thousands of years.
The metal of the coin changed unexpectedly with its surroundings since it was in direct contact with the dirt.
Although this particular sort of coin occasionally displays a patina, there is frequently no uniform, beautiful metal oxide layer underneath.

Because the typical uncleaned coin is unpredictable, you will need to evaluate its state and choose the best cleaning strategy.
It’s better to test out the gentler cleaning methods first to see whether they work, just like with the horde of money.
You might be forced to utilize more invasive methods if soaking and cleaning the filth don’t work.
It’s crucial to understand that restoration of these artifacts requires patience; hurrying the process out of desperation will only leave you disappointed in the end.

Last but not least, there are coins that are so filthy that the dirt has hardened into a cocoon.
While giving the coins a preliminary soak in water is advised in the off-chance that it can help dissolve some of the grime, it is much more common for these coins to react negatively to any form of soaking.

The most likely methods for removing the crust are electrolysis or prolonged immersion in oil.
The major techniques for cleaning coins include soaking, brushing, and electrolysis, however these are by no means the only ones.
By first freezing the coins and then dropping them into boiling water, some hobbyists have reported success.
The idea behind this tactic is that because of how metal expands under thermal stress, grime cannot adhere to the coin’s surface.
Even if this is an intriguing method, depending on the kind of grime discovered on the coin to be cleaned, varied degrees of success should be expected.

For those coins which have persistent thin coatings of filth which scrubbing fails to remove you may attempt treating by means of adhesive. Apply some glue, like Elmer’s, evenly, let it dry for a few minutes, and then peel it off.

You’ll see that some of the dirt and dried glue have come off, and you can do this step repeatedly.
The biggest drawback of this procedure is that it frequently destroys the patina, if any, leaving it with a dull, low-contrast appearance.

It might be best to test this technique out on a lesser quality coin at first to understand how it functions and where it can be applied most effectively. Others have turned to utilizing jewelry cleaners or rock tumblers.

They are worthwhile to take into account, but they need specialized care and tools and, at best, rarely produce better results than the more conventional approaches.