To Clean or Not
Last month, I ended my column by saying that I would talk about coin cleaning this month. Most books with guidelines for beginning coin collectors offer the following advice: Never clean your coins! You may have heard similar admonitions on shows like "Antiques Roadshow," when discussing antiques of all sorts, including furniture, weapons, and silverware. Someone will bring in a treasure from the attic, and an appraiser will say something like, "This is worth $7,000 to $10,000, but it would have been worth 10 times as much if you hadn't cleaned it."
In fact, many more coins have had their values lowered by cleaning than have benefitted from the process. Thus, the stock advice is to avoid cleaning like the plague.
But is cleaning always a bad thing to do? Do some coins benefit from cleaning? Is there "good" cleaning as well as "bad"? The answers to these questions are . . .
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