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  #1  
Old 11-20-2017, 01:01 PM
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Default Andre's Pencils Test Run: Buff and Wheats

Ever since finding a really toasted Indian Head in the early summer, I've been trying to find techniques to effectively clean coins and miscellaneous other finds that will improve their overall appearance while minimizing damage. Don't worry, I realize the oxymoron of using the terms "improve appearance" and "damage" at the same time - I don't intend to clean anything that has any real value beyond face, or anything that I may sell. There's nothing that I've found so far that would likely be worth selling, and I intend to keep all the coins I've found so far.

All that said, I've tried a few of the standard cleaning techniques on various finds so far. The easiest decision for cleaning is clad: it all goes into a tumbler for a couple hours, and it all comes out spendable or at least Coinstar ready with no effort. My go to technique for everything else so far has been simple soap and water - sometimes it's enough (certainly for silver it's all that's necessary), but it often leaves much to be desired for most items. I've also been soaking 3 cruddy wheat pennies for the last 4 months in mineral oil - they improved noticeably after the first month, but for the last 3 months the improvement has been minimal, and they still don't look very nice - not bad, just not nice. Too much crud still left behind. I tried soaking the IHP in distilled water for several weeks, but saw no real improvement - that's all I've attempted on that coin.

Now that I've found a few older nickels, my interest in finding a decent cleaning method has intensified. For nickels, I'm familiar with the SOS pad technique. I've tried it on a 1940 Jefferson that was a deep reddish purple, and the results weren't very good - basically ended up with an unequal shine on the raised areas, left the purple on all the rest of the surfaces, and revealed quite a bit of pitting on the back all over Monticello.

So now the heart of the post: I've seen Andre's Pencils mentioned a few times in various threads and my curiosity was piqued enough that I searched for and watched a few of the videos on-line. Since the pencils are simply hardened steel wool, I figured it would be worth a shot on nickels since the SOS pad technique is widely used anyway.

To make a long story longer, I purchased the pencils and tried them on a buffalo nickel and a couple wheat pennies. The before and after pics are shown below - in all cases, the before pictures show the coins after only getting cleaned as thoroughly as I could with dish soap, water, and a toothbrush:

Buffalo Nickel, before pencils:






I tried the Buff first, and frankly I have mixed opinions on the results. I'm not sure the results look any different from videos and posts I've seen from folks using an SOS pad. Lots of pitting was revealed, and I ended up with the uneven shine on raised areas. While some detail was revealed (E Pluribus Unum was brought out on the back), other detail was lost (Liberty and the date on the front are actually less distinct, imo). It was the first coin I attempted the pencils on, so inexperience may be a factor as well:






I actually had much better results using the pencils on the Wheats. While some green patina was lost (most evident on the 1920 Wheat), much more detail was revealed, and the overall appearance was greatly improved, in my opinion.

1920 Wheat, Before Pencils:





1920 Wheat, After Pencils:





1928 Wheat, Before Pencils:





1928 Wheat, After Pencils:





The pencils work fairly quickly - I spent about an hour total on the 3 coins. I'm happy enough with the results on the Wheats that I may try the pencils on an Indian Head eventually. My intial interest was to try them on the Shield and V nickels that I dug recently, but I think I'll continue to leave them alone. I was hoping to be able to bring out a date on the Shield nickel, but after seeing the results on the Buff, I think I'd prefer the coin to go dateless than risk highlighting a ton of pitting.

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  #2  
Old 11-20-2017, 10:21 PM
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Here are a couple more trial runs using Wheats (the only copper finds I'm willing to experiment on right now!). The results seem to be pretty consistent on higher copper content coins.

The two Wheats shown below are from the group that I had soaking in mineral oil for 4 months (after thorough cleaning with soap and water). Going into the oil, the 1935 Wheat was initially as dark as the 1928 Wheat in the example above. After the 4 months bathing in oil, and occasionally brushing with a soft toothbrush, I got it looking like this:





After about 15-20 mins with the pencils, it cleaned up what 4 months of oil couldn't:





The 1944 S shown below was also soaking in oil for 4 months. I don't remember how bad it looked initially, but there was some improvement from the oil. I had selected it for the oil bath because it had a case of reddish corrosion much like rust that I occasionally see with my dug wheats, and I wanted to see what affect cleaning would have on the "rust". Here's how it looked after 4 months in oil - lots of rustiness still evident of course, but the black gunk is still there, too:





Again, after 10-15 minutes with the pencils, here is the end result - it's still pockmarked from the corrosion, and an interesting mottled black & red coloring remains which is kind of like the surface of Mars, but I'm happy with the result:





To be honest, it's been downright fun cleaning these Wheats and bringing out hidden detail! The pencils are stone cold simple to use.

With these results, I think I'll be comfortable cleaning the post-1864 Indian Heads (95% copper, 5% zinc) when needed. The older ones would make me nervous though - the 12% nickel content would make me concerned that they would behave more like the Buffalo nickel than the Wheat cents. Cleaning my Flying Eagle with these are out too for now for the same reason; with 12% nickel, I'd be very afraid of Buffalo style results.

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Last edited by AirmetTango; 11-20-2017 at 10:23 PM. Reason: corrected pics
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  #3  
Old 11-20-2017, 11:53 PM
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That 35 wheat is the best in my opinion, some of the others look over cleaned. Pitting already happened, nothing you could do would fix that.

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Old 11-21-2017, 01:34 AM
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Yes that 35 wheatie definitely looks like it turned out better than the rest!

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  #5  
Old 11-21-2017, 07:56 AM
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Great write up with results. Appreciate you taking the time and showing us what can be expected. In the end I guess it all comes down to the condition of the coin you are trying to clean.
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  #6  
Old 11-21-2017, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by zeemang View post
That 35 wheat is the best in my opinion, some of the others look over cleaned. Pitting already happened, nothing you could do would fix that.
Originally Posted by X-Terra70 View post
Yes that 35 wheatie definitely looks like it turned out better than the rest!
Yep, the 1935 definitely turned out looking the best, mainly because it appears to have withstood the ravages of being underground better than the other Wheats. Without question, the Buff looks overcleaned - I’m personally disappointed with the result there. I do like how the other Wheats turned out, but I certainly respect that some folks will disagree and see them as over cleaned, too - and I know many will say I shouldn’t have cleaned them at all.

Originally Posted by T-Man View post
Great write up with results. Appreciate you taking the time and showing us what can be expected. In the end I guess it all comes down to the condition of the coin you are trying to clean.
Thanks, T-Man! That was my goal - to give folks an idea of what the pencils will do (and not do) and help them decide whether it’s a technique they’d like to try. You’re right, the underlying condition of the coin is the real driving factor in the final results that simply can’t be altered using this cleaning technique. As can be seen in the results above, the pencils clean away the crud that less aggressive techniques leave behind, but they can’t fix the damage and discoloration that often occurs from being underground and exposed to the elements. While the pencils are more aggressive than soaking and tooth-picking, they are certainly less damaging than acid or other chemical treatments, in my opinion.

Again, I personally like how the high copper content coins turned out, and will continue to use the technique on similar coins (Indians, wheats, etc) with no collector value. Others will disagree, and hopefully I’ve saved them the cost of the pencils!

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  #7  
Old 11-21-2017, 12:55 PM
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If the number 2 pencil is the most used pencil in the world, why is it still number 2 ?

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Old 11-21-2017, 03:32 PM
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I was thinking about getting a set of these pencils. Thanks for posting some of our results. I think they would work well on some dug IHPs. They seem be "sturdier" than dug wheats.

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Old 11-21-2017, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by flyguy784 View post
If the number 2 pencil is the most used pencil in the world, why is it still number 2 ?
“Who does Number 2 work for?? Who does Number 2 work for??” - Austin Powers

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  #10  
Old 11-21-2017, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Waveoff View post
I was thinking about getting a set of these pencils. Thanks for posting some of our results. I think they would work well on some dug IHPs. They seem be "sturdier" than dug wheats.
No problem, Waveoff - I’m glad it helped you make a decision

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  #11  
Old 11-24-2017, 02:14 PM
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I think copper wool or a brass brush would have done better for the pennies, brass is about the same hardness as bronze. They're slower but ultimately can take the corrosion layer off without abrading as deeply as steel wool.

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Old 01-22-2018, 12:36 PM
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I just got a set of these pencils.

Has anyone had any luck cleaning up the ancient copper largies and similar coins?

I'm going to practice on some wheat backs first!

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Old 01-24-2018, 08:05 PM
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Have you tried the freeze method like archaeologist use? basically soak in distilled water then freeze in your freezer, as the ice forms the water expands and lifts the grime off. It can take several freezes but does not scratch the suface.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:24 PM
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After research and finding out they are steel wool 00 I say no thank you. Steel wool scratches so these are taking off a small layer of the coin.

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Old 01-25-2018, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by AirmetTango View post
“Who does Number 2 work for?? Who does Number 2 work for??” - Austin Powers
"I AM number 2".........."You are number 6"

Anyone remember that?

Sorry to hi Jack

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Old 01-25-2018, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Big Treble View post
"I AM number 2".........."You are number 6"

Anyone remember that?

Sorry to hi Jack
I am not a number...I am a free man!

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Old 01-25-2018, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by AirmetTango View post
I am not a number...I am a free man!
LOL, wasn't sure anyone would remember

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Old 01-25-2018, 09:46 AM
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Those pencils did a pretty good job, I might have to get me some.
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Old 01-31-2018, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by AirmetTango View post
I am not a number...I am a free man!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AL7...&feature=share

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  #20  
Old 02-05-2018, 05:47 PM
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Those pencils are very popular there, I use mostly the 000 brushes -carefully- when the concretions are too thick, mainly on coins already in bad condition but potentially salvagable, and when oil, water and toothpick can't makes the job.
Personnaly I think a patient manual work is always better than using chemical stuffs.

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