The PNG, acceptable and unacceptable practices, coin doctoring, etc.

Dear fellow numismatists,

Below, with the permission of John Albanese, please find a preliminary draft (subject to further editing) of the "definition" to be presented to the PNG, by those of us on the "Coin Doctoring Definition Committee" .

I wish to give special thanks to John Albanese (who headed the committee),Tom Bush, James Garcia and Rick Sear for their above-and-beyond conscientiousness, efforts and contributions.

What we have prepared, is far from perfect, as would be anything pertaining to these topics. But I can honestly say that I am proud of our work.

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

PNG Definition

The coin collecting hobby and the industry that supports it have found it necessary to review and revise their standards many times. Throughout each era, price increases and/or price spreads have created a demand for more rigorous definitions as to what the market finds acceptable, and what it does not. In recent years, the PNG has worked in concert with NGC, PCGS, CAC and other industry leaders, to identify and define both acceptable and unacceptable practices for coin preservation and conservation. Acceptable practices aim at preservation and the conservation of previously damaged or manipulated coin surfaces. The most recent steps in the evolutionary process of coin evaluation have resulted in a more rigorous codification and enforcement of standards.

Additionally, there is a need to address practices and behaviors that are viewed as unacceptable, which affect the surfaces of coins in any way that deceptively alters the perception of the coin, in order to gain grade, designation or value enhancement. It is unethical and possibly illegal to use techniques and/or treatments to deceptively simulate or artificially enhance the qualities of coins so that they might appear to have higher technical grades and or more market-acceptable qualities than are naturally and/or otherwise present.

PNG also recognizes that there is confusion regarding what preservation and conservation techniques are considered acceptable. We will attempt to identify, define and/or describe what is clearly classifiable as intended to deceive.

1. Deceptive Surface Manipulation
Deceptive surface manipulations are carried out with the intention of altering the appearance of the subject coin, such that it may look to be of a higher grade than it truly is; may garner a higher grade after certification; may gain the attributes of a grade designation that it would not otherwise deserve; or may appear subjectively more attractive. These surface manipulations may irreversibly change the surface of the subject coin and/or may harm the surfaces of the subject coin over time. Methods of deceptive surface manipulation that are not considered acceptable by the PNG-
1) Mechanical disruption of surface metal (including, but not limited to, puncture or cut surfaces; plug or otherwise repair surface marks or damage; polish, whizzing or laser of surfaces).
2) Physical alteration of design details (including, but not limited to, modification of date or mintmark; engraving of missing or weak details to earn a grade designation; engraving of design details to simulate less wear; other methods to gain grade designation).
3) Application of exogenous materials to increase apparent mint luster, infer less wear, reduce evidence of prior manipulations or cleanings, replace missing details or earn a grade designation (including, but not limited to, application of solder; introduction of glue, plastic or other bonding agents; application of waxes, putties, powders or assorted grease or gels; exposure to dulling agents; addition of PVC; exposure to smoke or other gases).
4) Abrasive cleaning such as, but not limited to, the use of erasers or cleaning pads.
5) Copper/bronze coins are made from the most reactive of coinage metals. They are far more vulnerable to the production of artificial color, typically resulting in, but not limited to, various hues of red, blue and purple. Some conservation techniques safe for coinage produced in nickel, silver and gold consistently produce unacceptable results on copper/bronze. Artificial color may be achieved by exposure to agents that may or may not be acceptable for use on other coinage metals (including, but not limited to, arsenic; thiourea-based compounds; dilute acids; ammonia; chlorine and caustic solutions).

6) Artificial toning is the intentional, and/or inappropriate, accelerated acquisition of surface patina, primarily used to mask impairments on surfaces and/or to increase subjective eye appeal and/or grade. Artificial toning is always prohibited, and may result from intentional or inappropriate exposure to various substances or effects (including, but not limited to, direct heat; electrical current; immersion in certain liquids including bleach and/or others; exposure to gases; intentional or inappropriate storage conditions). It may be facilitated through the introduction of various compounds or catalysts including, but not limited to, sulfur, antimony, phosphorous, iodine, various alkanes, caustic compounds and acids.

2. Conservation
Conservation of coinage may include, but is not limited to, the removal of loosely adhered surface contaminants or incidental oils or grease; removal of prior, intentionally applied coatings; and the removal of harmful surface contaminants, with subsequent stabilization of the underlying metal. The goals of such conservation steps are to stabilize the surface of any treated coin, as well as to bring the coin within current market standards of acceptability. Methods of conservation that are considered acceptable by the PNG-
1) Low intensity, short term ultrasonic bath.
2) Use of rose thorn or similar device to remove carbon or particles without exposure of underlying raw metal.
3) Immersion in non-reactive solvent (water; acetone; alcohol; surfactants and other non-reactive organic compounds).

2a. Conservation (with historical exemption)
Conservation of coinage may include, but is not limited to, the removal of loosely adhered surface contaminants or incidental oils or grease; removal of prior, intentionally applied coatings; and the removal of harmful surface contaminants, with subsequent stabilization of the underlying metal. Additionally, the historically accepted procedure of dipping coins in dilute acids to remove unattractive toning may in some cases be considered conservation. The goals of such conservation steps are to stabilize the surface of any treated coin, as well as to bring the coin within current market standards of acceptability. Methods of conservation that are considered acceptable by the PNG-
1) Low intensity, short term ultrasonic bath.
2) Use of rose thorn or similar device to remove carbon or particles without exposure of underlying raw metal.
3) Immersion in non-reactive solvent (water; acetone; alcohol; surfactants and other non-reactive organic compounds).

3. Historical Exemption
Additionally, the historically accepted procedure of dipping coins in dilute acids to remove unattractive toning may in some cases be considered conservation.

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