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Surface Quality Rated on Ancient Coins
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
January 23, 2014

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Uncirculated U.S. copper coins are usually described as Red, Red-Brown, or Brown. Is there any descriptive standard for describing the patina on ancient bronze coins?

All ancient bronze coins have been recovered after a long burial, and their surface conditions are so varied that no formal designation would be practical. Instead, we take into account every aspect of the surface condition to arrive at a rating on a five-point scale, which provides an accurate and helpful analysis of the surface quality.

Are common foreign silver coins being scrapped as are common U.S. silver coins?
The same market forces are at work around the world. Silver coins may be hoarded in quantities in their country of origin, but in the United States they are likely to be encountered as part of a mix including non-silver coins dealers purchase from the general public. The coins may be scrapped if the U.S. dealer accumulates enough of them to make it worth his time, but it is more challenging to find sufficient quantities since the coins vary in weight and fineness.

Are the many world silver coin purities a problem when the coins are being melted?

It is difficult to sort world coins by their silver fineness. Many times there aren’t enough coins of a consistent purity to batch a quantity to resell or to melt. There is significant labor involved in sorting these coins. For this reason dealers often weigh all the foreign silver coins brought to them by non-collectors, then quote them a conservative price based on assuming the coins are all a very low grade silver.

2013 Frilled Neck Lizard Silver Proof
2013 Tuvalu Frilled Neck Lizard Silver Proof

This Remarkable Reptile is displayed in all its glory on a colorized proof silver dollar from the Perth Mint. Mintage is limited, so get yours before they’re gone!

Is anyone keeping track of the silver world coins being melted?
It is unlikely anyone could keep track of the world silver coins being melted simply due to the lack of a central clearinghouse. It is challenging enough to estimate the number of silver U.S. coins being melted. One personal observation – I am seeing significantly less silver world coins in miscellaneous non-collector hoards than in the past.

Some time back, Tanzania had announced a proposal to issue a 500-shilingi coin. Do you have any reference or further information on that?
According to information published in the July 6, 2012, issue of the newspaper Daily News, the Bank of Tanzania expected to replace the 500-shilingi bank note with a coin by December 2012. The Bank of Tanzania website still lists the bank note rather than a coin, with no press releases addressing the subject. This is the latest information I have.

Email inquiries to Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions.


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