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Issue's Value May Come Out in the Wash

May 14, 1987|DON ALPERT

Several related letters have been received concerning coin care. One, from B.C., says: "How do I prevent my silver coins from tarnishing, and how do I clean them up?" Another, from R.C., says: "I have some silver proof coins that somehow appear to be dirty and dusty. Is it possible to clean those coins? If so, should I take them to a coin dealer to clean them, or is there a way for me to clean them myself without risking any damages?"

Once and for all, I hope, let me reiterate that more damage is done cleaning coins than leaving them alone. The value of coins, to a great extent, is determined by condition. Seldom are coins enhanced by being cleaned. Serious collectors value the patina a coin achieves through the natural aging process. Some coins, in fact, are artificially toned in an attempt to make them more valuable. So, it stands to reason, the reverse will diminish the value.

Most metals tarnish naturally. This is especially true with silver and copper. Not all coins tone evenly. That's what makes those with especially beautiful toning and iridescent color so desirable. Some achieve cameo effects that can also add to the value.

Many new issues come sealed in plastic. Others have been placed in plastic holders that can help retard tarnishing. The important thing to remember is that once a coin is made, that's the way it will remain unless it is mishandled or placed in circulation. You can protect your coin but not improve upon it. So, accept your coin the way it is. Cleaned, polished and artificially enhanced coins should be avoided.

Question: My grandson received as a gift in 1970 an 1870/1970 Canadian centennial six-piece set ($1, 50 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents and 1 cent) in a case. The set depicts Queen Elizabeth. My grandson would appreciate any information along with its possible worth.--J.E.K.

Answer: Your grandson had a proof-like set with a mintage of 349,120. It's worth about $5. These Canadian commemorative sets are quite collectible. Some, like United States commemoratives, have gone up considerably in value. If your grandson is interested, he might want to pursue the hobby. It is always best to read as much as possible on the subject before purchasing the coin. A good basic book is "Coins of Canada" by J. A. Haxby and R. C. Willey. The price is only $3.95. Many other Canadian reference books are also available.

Q: I have a 1917 half dollar and a 1927 Indian-head nickel. Are they worth anything?--C.S.

A: The half dollar is $1.75 and up; the nickel is 10 cents and up.

Coin News

Last week Superior Galleries released the catalogue for the Buddy Ebsen Collection going on sale May 31, June 1 and 2. Now comes the perhaps even more impressive catalogue of the Edwards Metcalf and Buddy Ebsen Collections, also to be auctioned by Superior, on June 7, 8, 9 and 10. The Metcalf-Ebsen catalogue contains more than 7,400 entries of primarily ancient and world coins. For catalogues, or to view coins, contact Superior at 9478 Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90212-4236; telephone (213) 203-9855.

Coin Calendar

Sunday--The Covina Coin Club's 26th Annual Coin-o-Rama will be Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Joslyn Center, 815 N. Barranca Ave., Covina. Admission is free. For information, call Chuck Ham, (714) 599-0064.

May 22, 23 and 24--The 24th Annual Glendale Coin & Stamp Exposition featuring about 100 dealers will take place at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale, from noon to 7 p.m. May 22; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 23; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 24. Admission is $2.

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