Coins with Colour- Artificial Toning on Coins

May 26, 2010

Whilst browsing internet auction catalogues, listed items, dealer stock or tables at coin shows I often come across some magnificently toned pieces which are very beautiful to look at. But should I be drawn to these coins?

When struck, silver coins should be bright with cartwheel lustre, copper should be red and lustrous. With the exception of some Perth copper coins struck on coloured planchets original coins shouldn't show colour or toning, this is all damage or effect that's occured over time.

The above statement is for a perfect coin, the one that would grade the highest but more often than not some issues were struck in conditions that were not ideal so finding the perfect coin is sometimes near impossible. Whether a problem with the die or the planchet the affect might be desireable or undesireable.

Some toning occurs with age and environmental factors, this is often unavoidable. The most obvious interesting toning occurs with incorrect storage. Sometimes this incorrect storage is the box of issue!! I'm talking here about the 1966 Australian Proof sets in the blue boxes. If these coins have been sitting there since issue then they most likely have been handled or succumbed to the perils of sitting in the felt lined box.

The Canadian 50c below is from a set that has been innocently sitting in it's box of issue since 1967. The box is felt lined, can you guess what colour the felt was?

Canadian 50c stored in original felt lined box

Coins like this sent to PCGS for grading may be turned away as genuine but non-gradeable due to questionable colour. This colour, although obtained innocently through it's own box of issue is not what we want to see on an original coin.

It's pretty and quite collectable in it's own right but not an original piece. It's possible to treat a coin with a chemical to obtain interesting colouring effects but again this might be desirable but isn't authentic.

The coin below was stored in a silk lined box lovingly created by it's owner for it's safe long term storage. Although I haven't showed you the obverse of the coin, it isn't toned at all, just the reverse in direct contact with the silk lining of the case. So, again we have a pretty coin, collectable in it's own right, but certainly not original and in reality to the serious collector, one that should be passed by.

1962 Florin stored in silk lined case

Another example below is a gorgeous example of a medal from 1947 that's been stored in a box full of cotton wool for 63 years. It's heavily toned with bright blue toning peeping through the devices.

1947 Medal stored in cotton wool.

Although all these coins above are quite pretty and collectable in their own right they've been damaged irreversible by poor storage choices. Some of these choices even being the original boxes of issue! It's important to keep this in mind when choosing a storage option for your coins that you aren't going to prematurely age your coin or damage it unintentionally.

Posted by harrisk at May 26, 2010 12:51 PM
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