Summary of discussion on numism-fakes-l eGroup.
From: Chris Blair-Myers
Date: 1999 Apr 15, 4:39am
I guess I don't mind coins that are cleaned and retoned just as long
as they tell you in the description. Certainly with bronze pieces
there is a healthy premium on coins with an attractive "natural"
patina and clean brass can be rather off putting. Personally I would
prefer a carefully retoned piece rather than bright or clean brass.
Since I buy a substantial proportion of my coins by post I seem to
fall foul of some of these more dubious practices than those who have
the chance to handle the coins. In coin descriptions I have found a
marked reluctance to use the word "cleaned" two synonyms that spring
to mind are "No patina" which is at least truthful if somewhat evasive
and from a US dealer "orichulam toned" which in the two examples I
had, seem to mean chemically cleaned pieces and is clearly
missleading. I doubt very much whether in both cases there was any
intention to deceive perhaps just a "little economical with the
As buyer based in Europe and purchasing in the US this can be an
expensive mistake. By the time you include exchange rate costs,
postage and Import duties you have already paid a very hefty premium
on the purchase. Even if dealers had a returns policy, to ship it back
would add to the costs and I would still have to write off all the
import costs. Not much to do but never use that dealer again and
write it off to experience.
So I guess IMHO that retoning isn't particularly a bad practice since
it can improve an otherwise ugly piece but passing the piece off as a
natural patina is clearly a misrepresentation and should considered in
the same light as a restored antique being passed off as an original
One other problem I have found buying by post or via the internet is
the use of coloured wax filler. This is almost impossible to detect
on an image and I have had some pieces from a UK dealer with this
problem where pits had been filled in to give the appearance of smooth
surfaces and another from the US where it had been used to hide some
bad scratches revealing bright metal. Clearly in these cases the
intention was to deceive. Quite possibly the dealer himself was
deceived nevertheless it is difficult to have confidence in a dealer
who fails to notice such things. Presumably these are the cases we
need to highlight in this forum though it is not clear to me how one
should do so.
From: Bill Blank
Date: 1999 Apr 15, 10:07am
With a little practice a digital image can be enhanced in many
ways. Taking out pits and scratches is simple. One can also enhance or
add soft or missing letters and image details, completely change the
color balance to give beautiful patinas, etc. I dont think a seller
doing this would last long in traditional circuits, but on something
like eBay or its clones someone can be suckered in. And when the
negative feedback becomes too bad to continue, just re-register under
a new name.
As always the rule about knowing your dealers applyes.
From: Dave Surber
Date: 1999 Apr 15, 5:51pm
My hope in recently joining this group is to see scans of scams.
Perhaps if there was a picture of one of your wax-treated coins, it
might be possible to see what to look out for.
Since the seller frequently removes the scan in an auction web page
as soon as the auction is over, I find it practical to save off a
copy. Usually it would only be needed for my own later sale of the
coin. But then, it possible that I might not receive the coin I
thought I was buying, or find the scan was doctored, or, as in your
case, discover that the coin itself was doctored!