Ancient coins, Coin collecting, Nuismatics

More Great Patina Scam! Numismatics Exposed….

This is the coin of Nero deemed "worthless" at a major Annual Coin Show because the patina was removed, "Or it would have been worth $300."  Yeah, right!  As if the Romans of Nero's day didn't see this but carried coins with black patina muck in their daily exchanges!  21st century numismatics is in dire need of reform!  Who can help?

This is the coin of Nero deemed “worthless” at a major Annual Coin Show because the patina was removed, “Or it would have been worth $300.” Yeah, right! As if the Romans of Nero’s day didn’t see this but carried coins with black patina muck in their daily exchanges! 21st century numismatics is in dire need of reform! Who can help?

This is an extension of  You may enjoy starting there and returning here…

Just returning from an Annual Coin Show in a major city, I was stunned and, eventually, appalled at the inconsistencies of the “veteran” dealers and “appraisers” of ancient coins.  Clearly, they were blinded by sales expediencies for decades.  The constricted-profiteering numismatic box they inherited and sustained  has afforded no healthy evolution to ancient coin appreciation, let alone accurate valuation!

Let’s be clear from the onset.  If you read and thoroughly digested you are aware that patina was not minted with the original ancient coin.  It is worthless residue and oxide accumulation and buildup over centuries.  So why should its presence be more highly valued – worthless and non-intrinsic matter that it is – than the myriad of Beautiful details beneath it?  Absurd!  Preposterous!  In a healthy evolution of numismatic evaluation this must change!

Consider the analogy of an American b&w noir film of the 1940s to the High Resolution BluRay color DVD videos today.  Various shades of black patina are likened to the first category; well-cleaned ancient coins revealing a myriad of details in the second.  Three “experts” – with vested interests in chronic expediency –  alleged 20 beautiful bronze coins, all cleaned of patina to reveal its intricacies, of no value because the patina was gone!  What?  Since when do we consider detail-obscuring accumulated patina muck of infinitely greater value than original ancient artistry?

This must change.  The whole international numismatics industry is overdue for a change.  Here are some “professional” comments and my responses at afore-mentioned Coin Show:

*  “The best coins usually come from soil and emerge with greatest detail!”  Response:  Affirmative!

*  “Removing patina seriously devalues a coin.”  Response:  Unless patina has filled in a chip or crack – which the buyer has a right to be aware of – the patina from most ancient coins, when carefully removed, is like wiping oil from a seagull or tarry sludge from a dolphin.  Only then does the full, healthy scope of the original Beauty become apparent!

*  “I have written books and articles on ancient coins and have never seen your colors.  Probably done for the benefit of tourists.”  Response:  But how could that be?  When I received them they were all coated with thick rock!  No tourist marketing was involved.  In the 20 coins commented on were 20 all-different Beautiful shades of golden bronze!  Gold may have been part of the mixtures!  No two were alike!  Awesome!  Revealing this shows an appreciation and, indeed, historical awareness of metal combinations in the various colonies and provinces.

*  “Cleaning ancient coins removes a vital indigenous layer from the intrinsic ancient coin.”  Response: In the majority of cases that is pure silliness.  The exception could be the wash coating of Diocletian when the Roman economy was revamped; but I have worked with this and only a chemical will remove this, nothing else except maybe severe abrasion.  This comment defies logic because, unless an ancient coin is found in mint or near mint condition – and those found in soil are most nearly in an ideal state – the original “vital indigenous layer” is already worn to a degree through its usage in ancient times.  Period.  Logic 101.

*  “If you had left the patina on your Nero coin, it would be worth $300.  Now it is worth nothing.”  Response:  Again, pure silliness.  The thick black patina muck over said Nero coin made for a dull, perfectly smooth, featureless headgear.  When removed, beautiful and intricate details in the helmet emerged!  But this is the modern spirit we have today, also in poetry:  Remove the musicality, rhyme, meter, and beauty, and give awards for obscuring, dulling, and mundane noir.  No Thank You!

*  “Here is a gold coin with 20 centuries of tarnish.  It is valuable.”  Response:  Says who?  Why put a premium on tarnish over the original Beauty of the gold coin?  Subjugating the aesthetic sense to base patina gunk, is like watching Shakespeare’s Tempest and forcing yourself to believe the base Caliban is much higher in value than the aesthetic Ariel!

When Caesar Augustus conducted his epic meltdown of three centuries of worn Roman coins, the primary consideration was their loss of weight regarding value.  Once again, we need to return to the weight of an ancient coin for a primary consideration in today’s valuations.  Far more than considering what degree the original indigenous “vital layer” is present or not.  How silly!  In the vast majority of cases, common usage of the ancient would have already affected it.  And this is why we have the gradings of Good, Very Good and Fine, not to be ignored when the uglifying and obscuring patina is removed.  These gradings should no longer be relegated to how well these details show up when covered by… dare I say it… patina.

The bottom line for ancient coin numismatic reform:  Whether a coin retains its patina or whether it is removed, in both cases the only fair valuations need to be based on the degree of detail:  Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, etc.  This needs to become firmly established.  An ancient and highly artistic, beautiful bronze coin, revealing a myriad of subtle artistic details, is not “worthless” because patina muck has been removed to reveal these ancient details to the world.  Equally important is that while an ancient coin retains (in a small minority of cases) an artistically colorful patina not indigenous to the original coin, these coins should not be over rated as the patina may conceal chips, cracks and pock marks, for which a dealer is then overpaid.  Patina removed is much more honest!  And only in a very, very small percentage may be detrimental to the coin…  As chances are the chips, cracks and pock marks were already there before the patina was removed.

The numismatic world needs to insist ancient coins be allowed to come out of the patina closet to reveal their full splendour!