David S. writes: Recently I acquired an 1879 2 1/2D. Gold liberty Coronet type. I submitted it for grading and was told it was “no grade due to cleaning”. I did not detect this at all, is there a way to have it valued even though its been cleaned and/or is just a collectible of no real value?
Until recently, with the introduction of the “details” holders for problem coins, most of the grading services were reluctant to grade coins that have been cleaned. The general definition of cleaning is that the coin’s metal has been disturbed by artificial means. Abrasive cleaning leaves surface marks that are regular but contrary to the flow lines that are created when the coin is struck. Chemical cleaning removes flow lines and gives a coin an unnatural brightness.
The purpose of cleaning is always deception, that is making the coin appear in a higher grade than it really is. This has nothing to do with wear which appear as random marks from circulation and in its beginnings, the wearing down of the highest parts of the design.
This doesn’t make your coin worthless, but it is worth less than one in the same grade that hasn’t been cleaned. Many new collectors may seek out cleaned coins as a way of acquiring examples of coins that they couldn’t otherwise afford.