Coins obtain natural patina in a variety of ways. Toning is one kind of patina.
The oxygen in the air reacts with the metal in the coin creating a rainbow effect on the coin’s surface. This reaction can be imitated but fakes can be easily identified by coin professionals.
Different elements in the air, like salt, or sulfur, can affect the way a coin tones. Silver coins show toning better than copper coins because the reflective surface bounces the light back through the layers of toning.
Natural toning can add value to a coin, but not always. Sometimes toning occurs because coins are improperly stored or stored in holders of poor quality. The chemicals used in holders of low quality thus reduce a coin’s quality.
Sometimes toning can damage coins. Instead of appreciating with rainbow, bullseye, album, or monster toning, a coin with bad toning will loose value. Bad toning can result in corrosion, disfigurement and pitting.
False toning decreases, and in some cases destroys a coin’s value. Real toning takes time and is not predictable. False toning is applied to a coin with chemicals, heat and other treatments that only hurt the coin.
If you are curious about the toning on your coin, take it to a coin dealer you trust. Some dealers can grade coins with photos, but we advise in-person grading. Photos are dependent on the light and too many details necessary to determine the truth of the toning can be lost in the images.
Toning is a game of chemical chance. Some coins, well handled and put away in a drawer for two decades will emerge with beautiful oil-like ripples. Other coins, similarly stored in a drawer only twenty miles away will emerge pitted and marred.
Carefully stored coins will tone too, albeit slower and typically more evenly. Storage and Coin Display can help your collection age and appreciate in all the right ways.
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