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How to clean coins from a house fire


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#1 The Dear Wife

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 01:29 PM

Hello,

Several years ago my husband's parent's house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. After the fire, they picked up many coins from the ashes that had been stashed in the house. Recently while settling their estate, we found those coins and my husband has inherited them. There is a big glob of them melted together with most of them being half dollars. There are other coins mixed in too, and a lot of coins that are not melted with other coins.

My question to you guys who have experience with this sort of thing is, how do you clean them? Is there some way to restore their brilliance? I have tried soaking one in vinegar and I tried jewelry cleaner on another one but neither one helped. I would also like to know if there is any value left in those coins that are melted together? Is there somewhere we might sell them? I would appreciate any information you might be able to give. Thanks.


Sandy

#2 wyndham

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 07:03 PM

Sandy, the coins that are melted together will sell for silver price, if that's what they are silver or silver clad, hope so. The others should not be cleaned as this reduces any collecting value. Just soak them in warm dish detergent like Dawn over night and pat dry, don't rub or try to buff them. Silver is around $16/oz depending on the current market so you might want to weigh them to get an idea of how much weight you have.
Try to get a book at the library on coins to help you figure out what you have. Be careful of undervaluing what you may have. Wyndham
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#3 Mtnman

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 07:10 AM

I don't know, but I've been told, that those melted bunches of coins are actually collector items and fetch a pretty penny. Can't help with who collects them or how much they're worth, just something I was reading in a book the other day.

Randy

#4 OldSalt

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 08:23 AM

Sandy, I concur with Wyndham.
If you can get your hands on the gray sheet, you can find up to date values of your coins. If not, use the current Red Book to find out an estimated retail value.
The problem is grading your coins since the coins you have are not encapsulated. The difference in one grade to another can mean big bucks. There is a book you can buy called Photograde. It is probably the easiest way for you to determine the grade of your coins. Most dealers will try to under grade your coins to buy them cheaper from you, then sell the same coins at a higher grade. You can expect to get 10% under gray sheet for your coins when selling to a dealer and when selling to the public, gray sheet is expected. When buying from a dealer expect to pay 10% over gray sheet. Discolored coins or coins with rainbow type colors can bring a premium. If your coins are blackened from soot, you may want to take one or two lesser value coins to a dealer and see how much he would charge you to clean it or what he suggests.
For the coins that are melted together, you may be able to sell them on ebay with a starting bid of their spot intrinsic value/silver content and see what happens. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


#5 Mike Furness

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:36 AM

Old Salt,

Pardon my ignorance but what is the "gray sheet" and where is it found?

I inherited a small cache of various coins ... most of which are US silver coins. Some few clad coins I assume are face value I am sure. As the personal representattive of the estate I am charged with selling them and distributing the cash since none of the heirs wants to just take them.

Thanks,
Mike

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#6 OldSalt

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:38 AM

QUOTE (Mike Furness @ Jul 16 2008, 08:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Old Salt,

Pardon my ignorance but what is the "gray sheet" and where is it found?

I inherited a small cache of various coins ... most of which are US silver coins. Some few clad coins I assume are face value I am sure. As the personal representattive of the estate I am charged with selling them and distributing the cash since none of the heirs wants to just take them.

Thanks,
Mike


Mike, you can get it here: http://www.greysheet.com/ for a small fee. However, if you have any coin dealers nearby, they might let you have last weeks copy for free. Remember, proper grading is the key to obtaining the correct prices for your coins and I would recommend the photograde book. If the coins you have are encapsulated in a plastic holder, you will need the Blue Sheet instead. Are you in the Phoenix area?

#7 Mike Furness

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 08:43 AM

Old Salt

I am but a short day or two walk innocent0009.gif from Phoenix ... Exeter, NH!

Thank you for the inside info on the gray sheet. I do have a coin dealer nearby who has worked with me before on my beach finds. I am a mere 6-7 miles from Hampton Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

Thanks,
Mike

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