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Post you latest circulation finds -1988 Lincoln - no copper layer cent-better photos added

rec78rec78 Posts: 5,630 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 9, 2020 8:54AM in U.S. Coin Forum

H, I got this 1988 Lincoln cent from a casino voucher cashing machine. There is no copper layer on it. It appears to have been issued this way. It looks a lot better in person. How hard would it be to take the copper layer off? Does it have any value? The background is a pure white sheet of paper, the camera made it that color. I did not edit the photos except to crop them to size.
Regular coin added to left for comparison.



  • MsMorrisineMsMorrisine Posts: 31,837 ✭✭✭✭✭

    it looks more like a coin with a funky copper patina

    Current maintainer of Stone's Master List of Favorite Websites // My BST transactions
  • rec78rec78 Posts: 5,630 ✭✭✭✭✭

    No, it is not a copper patina, I assure you. Sorry my photography skills are still way below amatuer. It actually looks almost white. It weighs the right amount for a zinc cent.

  • CameonutCameonut Posts: 7,235 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Many years ago I worked as a plating engineer in a very large plating shop. Here is my take:
    First, to answer your question, I think it would be nearly impossible to remove the copper layer without destroying the zinc layer - or making look much worse than it is. The materials used to remove copper are relatively aggressive and actually would do more damage to the zinc underneath. It would also be very difficult to uniformly "unplate" the copper by making the cent an anode and applying current. So I don't think the copper was removed by any process I know about. Keep in mind that typical plating thicknesses are less than a thousandth of an inch thick.

    I see several possibilities:
    1 - the copper layer was never plated - most likely - the whitish color is simply zinc oxide
    2 - immersion plating in a silver solution. Silver will preferentially "immersion plate" on a copper surface with no electrical current applied. It yields a surface that often looks like your piece. This is very likely and I did this dozens of times to make novelty pieces. The silver cyanide plating solutions I used yielded a smoother and less "frosty" surface finish.
    3 - form an amalgam with mercury. Not likely, but possible. The copper oxide layer would be removed with dilute nitric acid and then the piece is dipped in liquid mercury. The copper and mercury form an amalgam on the surface. I never did this but suspect that the amalgam would have a silvery copper look to it, which isn't like your piece. I think this is unlikely for a number of reasons (mostly Occam's razor).

    For obvious reasons - do not attempt any of this at home! Cyanide will kill you and mercury is extremely toxic when vaporized.

    It would be interesting to take this to a coin or jewelry shop with an XRF to see if the surface is zinc or silver.

    “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson

    My digital cameo album 1950-64 Cameos - take a look!

  • ChrisH821ChrisH821 Posts: 6,179 ✭✭✭✭✭

    cool piece

    Collector, occasional seller

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It does look as if it may have been coated with some substance... try an acetone or MS70 bath and see what happens. Acetone will not harm metal. Cheers, RickO

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