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Thread: field walkers and copper coins

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  1. #1
    us
    Nov 2010
    NJ Pine Barrens
    E-Trac, T2
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    Metal Detecting

    field walkers and copper coins

    Here is a question for the field walkers and colonial copper hunters on here:

    Last night, Jim and I were talking about our finds and we both lamented that we are dissappointed by the outcome when removing soil from our copper coins. After getting the coins home, the dirt has dried on the surface of the coins. Jim uses boiling peroxide and toothpicking (when necessary) to remove it. I use room temp peroxide followed by a distilled water soak. Unfortunately, the end result is that the coins all turn a very deep green which can cover up any previously visible detail.

    So here is the problem: You can either have a nice freshly dug copper coin with its natural environmental patina and leave it untouched and thus covered in dirt and loose soil (as found). Or, you can remove the loose dirt with peroxide or distilled water but this almost always leaves a deep green patina on the coin, which can cover up the details and it often makes a coin look much worse than when it was freshly dug.

    This got me thinking. Ever notice that when you rub a coin in the field and then get it home and after cleaning it - the part you rubbed always looks the best? I know some guys keep coins moist after they are dug (wrapping in a wet cloth). Others drop coins in a small jar of distilled water after digging. Who is currently having success with "taking action in the field" and is "treating/cleaning" their dug coppers in the field just after digging them?

    Looking for opinions from field walkers who have experience with the above scenarios.

  2. #2
    us
    Jun 2012
    Evensville, Tennessee
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Now this is a great thread......very interested to see what the coin gurus have to say. When I first started with a MD I lived in Middle TN where there was lots of CW action and the related relics were almost all I hunted. Did little more than just remove the dirt on recovered relics. Live in SE Tenn. now and not as much CW activity . I hunt old home sites for whatever now. Buttons, copper and brass relics, and coins can be a real pain to clean. I have been trying the lemon juice on some and peroxide on others. Would like to get it nailed down to a process that removes the crud and does the least amount of harm to the detail. Know there is no perfect way to get 100% results but would like to get a good consistent method.

  3. #3
    us
    Nov 2010
    NJ Pine Barrens
    E-Trac, T2
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    Metal Detecting
    TNGUNS: Absolutely. People focus too much on how to clean them. I am thinking big picture and how conservation starts the minute you unearth a coin.

  4. #4
    us
    Apr 2012
    The Jersey Shore
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    I haven't tried this yet but how about keeping the coin in a moist towel and when you get home put it in a sonic (vibrating) jewelry cleaner with distilled water.
    The vibrations should losen the crud and the distilled water should cause no chemical reaction to the coin.
    Sandman likes this.
    One must be smarter than the equipment they are working with!

  5. #5
    Field cleaning is a bad idea because there's nothing you can do there that you can't do later.

    So with these coppers how much is corrosion and how much is dirt, you have to clean off?

    Are you digging them from undisturbed ground or fields that get plowed?
    Last edited by Iron Patch; Oct 24, 2012 at 10:19 PM.
    Sandman likes this.

  6. #6
    us
    Nov 2010
    NJ Pine Barrens
    E-Trac, T2
    4,134
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    Metal Detecting
    IP: I think I agree. Last weekend, I put all the coins I dug in a plastic baggie with a wet paper towel inside as a sleeve. When I got home, I rinsed all the coins in distilled water to remove any remaining soil. All the coins came out looking worse than if I had just left them dry in my pouch (like normal).

    I think my concern was that sometimes when coins dry out in your pouch with soil on the surface, it can be like "concrete" that is very difficult to remove later.

    I agree that most of the time, this soil coating is covering up corrosion and other environmental damage. It is possible that by keeping the coins wet, I was able to remove more of the soil when rinsing, thus revealing even more corrosion that would normally be covered up.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jerseyben View Post
    IP: I think I agree. Last weekend, I put all the coins I dug in a plastic baggie with a wet paper towel inside as a sleeve. When I got home, I rinsed all the coins in distilled water to remove any remaining soil. All the coins came out looking worse than if I had just left them dry in my pouch (like normal).

    I think my concern was that sometimes when coins dry out in your pouch with soil on the surface, it can be like "concrete" that is very difficult to remove later.

    I agree that most of the time, this soil coating is covering up corrosion and other environmental damage. It is possible that by keeping the coins wet, I was able to remove more of the soil when rinsing, thus revealing even more corrosion that would normally be covered up.


    You are telling me things I have known for years, but didn't answer my questions. You didn't show pics, and don't describe the before condition and site circumstances, so there's no way anyone can even guess at a better solution. I have cleaned many coppers from many different places and conditions and most do not do what you describe, but I am pretty sure I know what you are talking about. If you live in crusty copperville like I do the whole distilled water thing is a nice thought but it's like taking vitamins for two broken legs. (pointless) And that's both before or after you break your legs.

  8. #8
    You are better of using small sealable bags with the moist soil you dug the coin from, this will keep it from drying out, the cleaning I will leave to Iron Patch, he knows more about the coppers you are talking about, but that is what I do with the Roman bronze coins that have detail, that I can clean later.

    SS

  9. #9
    us
    Nov 2010
    NJ Pine Barrens
    E-Trac, T2
    4,134
    1476 times
    Metal Detecting
    Before Condition: Covered in mostly loose soil. Mostly corrosion. Coppers in South Jersey develop that "skin" where the details like to "flake off" the copper disc. No pics available. Typically one side of the coin is in much better condition than the other side.
    Site Conditions: Plowed fields typically with produce crops, corn, and beans.

    Take for example my 1793 Half Cent: http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/to...half-cent.html. Cleaning was as follows: Dug with reverse showing. Obverse had a crusty coating. Placed in my pouch, untouched until I got home. At home, I soaked it in room temp peroxide to loosen the crust, followed by a distilled water soak. The result is the deep green that hides all the details on the obverse.

 

 

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