James Z. asks: I am looking for a way to un-tarnish my silver coins. I have seen a metal plate which is placed in water, then you place your silver on the submersed plate and the silver un-tarnishes. Was wondering if you were aware of the product?
Yes, this is a variation of electrolysis and will remove a coin’s surface oxide layer. Although the chemical process is different, dips such as Tarnex or Jewel Luster reach the same end, that is, the removal of the coin’s oxide coating. Both the electronic and the chemical technique remove small amounts of metal from the coin. Repeated “treatments” remove enough flow lines, that are responsible for Mint luster, to degrade a mint state coin to AU or lower. Coins that have been cleaned repeatedly this way are worth much less than coins that possess the original mint surfaces.
Many collectors prize attractively toned coins. Patina can be both aesthetically pleasing and can protect a coin’s surface from exposure to damaging air pollutants.