Many of the ungraded coins on e-bay have been CLEANED. Based on my experience purchasing ungraded Peace and Morgan dollars, I would estimate that a least 25 to 30% of the ungraded coins on e-bay have been cleaned, dipped, or polished. Although this is probably about the same percentage of cleaned and polished coins you will find in the total population of ungraded coins in most coin shops and coin dealers, the cleaned coins on e-bay are freguently advertised as brilliant BU coins. These same percentage seem to apply to other coins I collect including Walking Libery Half Dollars and Mercury Dimes.
PLEASE REMEMBER THE VALUE OF COINS SHOWING EVIDENCE OF CLEANING (OR OTHER ALTERATIONS) ARE DISCOUNTED BY THE COIN MARKET BY FROM 70% TO 90%. AND IN THE CASE OF RARE DATES THE DISCOUNT CAN BE EVEN GREATER.
For example, I purchased a roll of 1925 Peace Dollars that were advertised as GEM BU. Of 20 coins in the roll I sent 10 to ANACS for grading. Five were cleaned with AU55 to AU58 details and of the remaining five, two graded AU58, and one graded MS62, one graded MS63, and one graded MS64. Thats an example of some of the GEM BU rolls of coins. I am not saying that all sellers of Gem BU rolls have this mix of AU and BU coins, but many do.
Beware of glowing comments for bright and great luster coins that are ungraded. Many of the coins have been polished or otherwise cleaned. Recently I purchased a 1923S Peace Dollar that the seller advertised as MS 65 with great luster. The coin was certainly shiny, but the shine was due to being polished which reduced the value to melt.
Beware of rare date coins that are being sold in an ungraded state or have been graded by a second class grading service. Most dealers would have a rare date graded by one of the better services and seeing a rare date in an ungraded condition or in slabs from NNC, GEC, NAC HCGS, etc is a clue that there may be other problems with the coin. If the dealer is not selling the coin as a graded coin the grading service may have refused to grade the coin. PCGS and NGC will not grade coins with Altered Surfaces (cleaned, polished, whizzed, etc. for a glossary of terms see pcgs.com). Unethical dealers will send these types of coins to GEC, NAC, NNC, HCGS, ANI, and other third and fourth tier grading services that will grade anything (see my guide "coin grading services are not equal") as MS66 or MS67.
If you buy a Slabbed (Graded) coin that has been cleaned YOU HAVE OVERPAID BY AT LEAST 50 TO 75%. since many inexperienced buyers think that just because a coin has been slabbed (graded) it has not been cleaned. ALSO, inexperienced buyer's think the coins that are Slabbed as MS66 or MS 67 are Uncirculated, WRONG, WRONG, AND WRONG AGAIN. (see my guide "Coin Grading Services are not the all Equal"). Even Worse, there are many third tier grading services that will grade reproductions as authentic coins (see my guide "Fake Trade, Morgan, and Peace dollars on e-bay").
If you see an ungraded Walking Liberty, Mercury Dime, Peace Dollar, Morgan Dollar or any other silver coin that is a key or rare date being sold in an ungraded condition, that the seller claims is BU or MS60 plus, BEWARE. If the Seller has not had the coin graded there is usually a reason.
When buying circulated morgan and peace dollars the price for most ungraded circulated coins will approach within a dollar or two of melt (silver content) of the coin. Avoid paying more than $3.00 to $5.00 above melt unless you are certain they are rarer dates and certain of the coin's grade and condition (not being cleaned). The one place cleaned coins do not matter is for coins being sold (priced) primarily for their silver or gold content. As I say in my guide "Buying and Selling Coins on e-bay" you can frequently buy 90% silver coins (i.e. walking liberty halfs, merc. dimes, washington quarters, etc. at discount from the silver content. This discount tends to shrink when silver and gold prices are rising and this discount grows when silver and gold prices decline.
REMOVING PVC RESIDUE AND DIRT AND GRIME - If you wish to remove the dirt and grime from a coin you SHOULD NOT use a caustic or acidic cleaner and you SHOULD NOT rub a coin as part of degreasing. One popular solution is MS70. It is non-acidic and will only remove the grime and dirt. MS70 will not disturb toning nor alter the surface of the coin. PVC residue appears as a milking white substance on the surface of the coin. If not dealt with the PVC residue can permanently damage the surface of the coin. Always be sure to use Non-PVC flips when storing your coins. THE MAJOR GRADING SERVICES REQUIRE THAT SUBMISSIONS BE IN NON-PVC FLIPS.
While it is difficult to decide when to degrease (brighten) a coin with MS70, I personally like to see clear signs of mint luster before I attempt a brighening/degreasing because many times you will find things you did not want to find like signs of cleaning or other serious surface flaws. The good news is that if you do find a BU coin that is just dirty, you can significantly improve the value of the coin by degreasing. A coin can be degreased/brightened with MS70 and not leave any trace that will prevent the coin from being graded. Also a solid BU coin that is just dirty can potentially improve its appearance and grade by a degreasing.
Please see my related guides on "Buying and Selling Coins on e-bay" and "Ungraded Coins on e-Bay".
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