I just recieved a shipment of Peace dollars which were advertised as "Almost Uncirculated". I was a bit dissapointed, as I ordered about 10 of these in May this year, and the ten I got were very clean and beautiful coins. This time, I placed an order for 20, and 13 of them, while they appear to not be "worn down", are downright filthy looking. I assume the AU designator is about wear rather than dirt and such?
So my next question: I bought these mostly to give as gifts to family for birthdays and graduations and such. Would it reduce their value if I cleaned them with baking soda (as in hot water, baking soda, pinch of salt, and a piece of aluminum foil to soak). I've had great success getting tarnish from silver cups and utensils this way... but not sure on a coin if that decreases value at all?
NEVER CLEAN A PEACE DOLLAR!!!!
NEVER EVER CLEAN THE PEACE DOLLARR!!!!!!
Promise you that you will not clean that with anything under any circumstances.
The "patina" on the peace dollars or other true silver coinage is a sign that they are real.
When the patina is missing on the coins, the local coin shop guys will reduce the coin because the shine is present and the patina (tarnish in your words) is lost.
The patina can only build up with time.
If you "clean it", you'll ruin a percentage of the value which is equivalent to the knowledge of the coin shop buyer.
If a buyer wants "pretty" coins, give them the "cleaned ones" that lack the patina. Those types of people are not coin collectors and would not appreciate the gift you are making.
Patina is good, not bad!
As I searched around on the web tonight, I found that same advice. Not being a coin collector, it never occured to me that a "dirty" coin would have more value than a shiny one.
I normally only buy coins for their bullion value and easy recognition (eagles, etc.), but I got into buying some older coins as I like the history behind them. Actually, it's my daughter's fault, I asked her what kind of silver coin she wanted for her birthday and after we read up on old coins, she decided on Peace Dollars... now I just keep buying them for some reason, premiums and all :-P
The only coins i mess with are ones that I already purchased as "cleaned coins" and only if they left gunk around the lettering and details, because to me this is the most obvious sign of having been cleaned. I'm basically finishing the job that should have never been done in the first place. I'm currently conducting an experiment on a cleaned coin whereas I apply a bit of saliva to it whenever I go through my stack to see if I can speed the patina process along. So far so good - kinda gross but what the hell.