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Just curious: natural or artificial toning?

A couple of years ago, I put together this cardboard holder for my 2019 American Liberty Silver Medal* with the intention of toning the silver. My question is whether this piece now exhibits natural or artificial toning? In other words, if one intentionally tones a silver coin but in a traditional sort of way, does this act preclude it from being considered naturally toned?

  • As a collector of the coins and medals I have designed, this is but one approach I have taken to build a personal collection that will one day be perceived as different or somewhat unique. It will be comprised solely of unslabbed items such as U.S. Mint-issued sets, singles, and other miscellaneous raw material. Each item will feature my signature in some creative way. With this approach, I have liberated myself from having to deal with grading and value worries and focus only on my collecting objectives.

Comments

  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,424 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess it would depend on how quickly they tone.
    Why your signature are you famous?

    Successful BST with ad4400, Kccoin, lablover, pointfivezero, koynekwest, jwitten, coin22lover, HalfDimeDude, erwindoc, jyzskowsi, COINS MAKE CENTS, AlanSki, BryceM

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,427 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If the toning happens slow enough and doesn’t end up looking fake it will most likely be market acceptable. It’s risky though because if you deliberately expose a coin to conditions that cause toning you can easily end up with environmental damage that’s irreversible. Technically because you did it intentionally it’s artificial though.

    Mr_Spud

  • thefinnthefinn Posts: 2,653 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not artificial, but questionable.

    thefinn
  • AercusAercus Posts: 381 ✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    You intentionally toned the silver. By definition, that's "artificial". The artificial/natural toning distinction is itself artificial. The real question is market acceptable or not market acceptable.

    Exactly this. The real division is market acceptability. And really these days it means tpg acceptability.

    Aercus Numismatics - Certified coins for sale

  • mark_dakmark_dak Posts: 1,091 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Kind of hard to tell, am I seeing any color there or simply going to end up dark from the rim inward?

  • jedmjedm Posts: 2,936 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I like the way you're using the inside of the box...(cereal ?) to show your "outside of the box" thinking! Have fun with your coins.

  • ConnecticoinConnecticoin Posts: 12,512 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Were those milk spots on the coin when it arrived from the mint?

  • MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    You intentionally toned the silver. By definition, that's "artificial".

    If he didn't know the coin would tone, it wouldn't be intentional. Would it still be artificial?

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If that is 'intentional'... then all the album stored and tarnished coins are also 'intentional'.... I am becoming weary of the entire AT vs. NT endless discussion. Experts can AT coins so they are undetectable by the 'other' experts....and AT coins have sold for incredible premiums.... So, all y'all can continue to beat this dead horse, it still will not run. Tarnish is tarnish.... People hate it on silverware, but treasure it on coins.... Final definition.... Tarnish is environmental damage..... Period. Exclamation point! Love it or leave it.... your choice. Cheers, RickO

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    You intentionally toned the silver. By definition, that's "artifici

    al".

    If he didn't know the coin would tone, it wouldn't be intentional. Would it still be artificial?

    LOL. In my book, yes. In others, no. ALL album toning is artificial in the sense that contaminants (sulfur) in the cardboard cause the formation of silver sulfides on the surface. That is (intentional or unintentional) introduction of non-native substances onto the surface. But that's why I say that the "natural" vs. "artificial" debate is spurious. There is toning that is deemed market acceptable and toning that is deemed not market acceptable.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Aercus said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    You intentionally toned the silver. By definition, that's "artificial". The artificial/natural toning distinction is itself artificial. The real question is market acceptable or not market acceptable.

    Exactly this. The real division is market acceptability. And really these days it means tpg acceptability.

    Totally agree. And, of course, sometimes they can't make up their mind and so "Questionable Color".

  • Steven59Steven59 Posts: 8,290 ✭✭✭✭✭

    When you buy actual coin albums and the coin tones in them could very well be natural. BUT to make a coin holder out of material that you know will tone the coin is a questionable practice. Like stated - it will be up to a TPG to decide for sure.

    "When they can't find anything wrong with you, they create it!"

  • HalfDimeDudeHalfDimeDude Posts: 1,205 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Personally with the toning as its spreading on the surface those spots will not get better I dip it and hope for the best...I do like some toning....but then theres some that is just nasty looking.

    "That's why I wander and follow La Vie Dansante"

  • TreashuntTreashunt Posts: 6,747 ✭✭✭✭✭

    NT

    Frank

    BHNC #203

  • MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    ALL album toning is artificial in the sense that contaminants (sulfur) in the cardboard cause the formation of silver sulfides on the surface.

    Isn't all toning due to a coin being in the presence of contaminants?

  • Dave99BDave99B Posts: 8,352 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Natural

    Dave

    Always looking for original, better date VF20-VF35 Barber quarters and halves, and a quality beer.
  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    ALL album toning is artificial in the sense that contaminants (sulfur) in the cardboard cause the formation of silver sulfides on the surface.

    Isn't all toning due to a coin being in the presence of contaminants?

    Yes. But oxygen in the air might be considered a natural part of the environment. Vacuum is not natural on earth. Sulfur, on the other hand, less natural unless you live near a volcano vent.

    But, that's why all such distinctions are ridiculous. It is "natural" for a coin in a cardboard holder to tone. It is also "natural" for a coin in a PVC holder to turn green. But is it "natural" for a coin to be in such a holder in the first place? One is considered "environmental damage" while the other is "natural toning".

    People on this forum will tell you that a coin that spent 50 years in an album and has toned is "natural" but if I take the same album and the same coin and put it in the oven for 12 hours the toning is "artificial". "Accelerated natural"?

    It is "natural" for a zinc Lincoln to corrode completely in a mildly moist atmosphere. So, is zinc rot "natural toning" and therefore somehow acceptable? That green verdigris on your large cent formed naturally due to 150 years of exposure to humid summer air, but that is somehow "environmental damage" rather than "natural toning".

    In the end, it is "market acceptable" vs. "market unacceptable". The rest of it is destined to be a 600 post thread arguing semantics.

  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    How about a new term for this: "Accelerated toning". The problem is that it looks pretty much like natural toning and may be impossible to tell apart. Also, it would need to be differentiated from "Instant toning" often accomplished with heat or chemical application but with an instant reaction. Instant toning doesn't look natural and isn't generally considered market acceptable.

    If it looks natural, it's market acceptable and to me, this looks natural and I'd buy it.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    In the end, it is "market acceptable" vs. "market unacceptable". The rest of it is destined to be a 600 post thread arguing semantics.

    I agree 100%. The coins are what they are. If you like them, buy them. If you don't, don't.

  • MrBlusterMrBluster Posts: 320 ✭✭✭

    Looks natural, I like the medal . Very nice.

  • pmh1nicpmh1nic Posts: 3,137 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 24, 2021 12:07PM

    I had a silver coin (can't remember what it was) that had been in an envelope for ten years and acquired some nice concentric toning. I brought it to the LCS and showed him the coin. I explained to him what I had done. He paid a premium for the coin then asked "do you have any others like this?" Opinions about toning, how it's acquired, what it's worth are all over the place.

    The longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it possible for an empire to rise without His aid? Benjamin Franklin
  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @sellitstore said:
    How about a new term for this: "Accelerated toning". The problem is that it looks pretty much like natural toning and may be impossible to tell apart. Also, it would need to be differentiated from "Instant toning" often accomplished with heat or chemical application but with an instant reaction. Instant toning doesn't look natural and isn't generally considered market acceptable.

    If it looks natural, it's market acceptable and to me, this looks natural and I'd buy it.

    Actually, a number of people including our own @ricko actually do use "accelerated toning" for AT rather than "artificial toning" for the reasons laid out above.

  • MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    Actually, a number of people including our own @ricko actually do use "accelerated toning" for AT rather than "artificial toning" for the reasons laid out above.

    Using "accelerated" instead of "artificial" doesn't really help all that much. You still need a way to distinguish either one from non-accelerated/non-artificial examples and neither description allows for a discrete "True/False" determination. Both exist on a continuum, where the transition from one state to the other is not readily apparent.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    Actually, a number of people including our own @ricko actually do use "accelerated toning" for AT rather than "artificial toning" for the reasons laid out above.

    Using "accelerated" instead of "artificial" doesn't really help all that much. You still need a way to distinguish either one from non-accelerated/non-artificial examples and neither description allows for a discrete "True/False" determination. Both exist on a continuum, where the transition from one state to the other is not readily apparent.

    I agree. But it is at least more honest. I mean, everyone likes "artificially-induced album toning" as long as it happens slowly. LOL.

    That's why I just go with MA. If someone can whip up 1000 ASEs in their lab in 15 minutes and the market accepts them, I'm fine with that.

    Not to go off on a tangent, but this "original" or "natural" debate is really unnecessary. It is common for museums to curate artifacts for the protection of those artifacts. Why should it matter to anyone if someone PROPERLY cleaned a coin to preserve it? There's a certain embrace of affect here that has nothing to do with the numismatic artifacts themselves. Many coin people would rather pay more for a "100% original coin" that is less attractive than a "curated" coin. Just kind of silly.

    If you think long into the future, it might make more sense to put a thin layer coating over coins to passivate the surface against future "original" "natural" toning. 1000 years from now, your rainbow toner is going to be black...but not if properly curated.

  • FreeThinkerFreeThinker Posts: 51 ✭✭✭

    Thank you all for your kind comments. I would only reiterate what I tried to say in my last paragraph, that my only interest in collecting coins and medals is to acquire those specimens that attribute me as the designer. Since the terms, "natural toning" and "artificial toning" seem to connote a marketing context, I probably should have avoided them altogether.

    Again, my collection comprises coins, medals, and sets purchased directly from the Mint or individual coins I have picked up in circulation. Condition, and therefore the item's potential numismatic value, is of little importance to me. Therefore, I have no TPG coins or medals. What is important are the objects themselves and the stories on how I acquired them. This is what I plan to pass on to my son.

    Personally, I consider this coin to be naturally toned because I have simply chosen to house it in a manner similar to that of millions of other old coins and medals, which are now slabbed with the designation of being "naturally toned." Regardless, it doesn't really matter because this medal will never be slabbed, at least not in my lifetime.

    It is what it is... the designer's own personal specimen of a medal that he designed.

  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,591 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • AercusAercus Posts: 381 ✭✭✭✭

    @FreeThinker said:
    Thank you all for your kind comments. I would only reiterate what I tried to say in my last paragraph, that my only interest in collecting coins and medals is to acquire those specimens that attribute me as the designer. Since the terms, "natural toning" and "artificial toning" seem to connote a marketing context, I probably should have avoided them altogether.

    Again, my collection comprises coins, medals, and sets purchased directly from the Mint or individual coins I have picked up in circulation. Condition, and therefore the item's potential numismatic value, is of little importance to me. Therefore, I have no TPG coins or medals. What is important are the objects themselves and the stories on how I acquired them. This is what I plan to pass on to my son.

    This is the most important thing. I love this project. Creating a set that gives him insight into what appealed to you and your creativity is very cool.

    Aercus Numismatics - Certified coins for sale

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FreeThinker....I completely understand your point and process. Good to have you here and we welcome commentary from you on designs - both of your own and others. Cheers, RickO

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 3,767 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It is progressing quickly with the toning, in 10 years it will be interesting. Depends on the sulfur content.

    Creative and beautiful design of Liberty. Did you create the design drawing, with Joe Menna completing the digital sculpting?

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty - biography of US Mint's first chief engraver
  • FreeThinkerFreeThinker Posts: 51 ✭✭✭

    @ricko Thank you for that warm welcome. I will be glad to contribute my thoughts, when appropriate, on coin design and other art-related issues.

    @Nysoto Thank you for your comments and yes, I created the drawing, or line art, of the design from which Joe based his bas-relief sculpture on.

    As a side note...
    Regarding Liberty's appearance, my son's college friend, a young woman of Malaysian-American and African-American ancestry, posed for the portrait. My intent was to make Liberty's features racially ambiguous, a clean departure from the Greco Roman style that has historically defined the allegorical figure.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FreeThinker .... Based on your intent as described, I would say your achieved design is admirable. I liked that design from my first viewing. Thank you for the back story. So often we have heard about how images were derived or modeled. Good to have the designers factual story of how the image was created - and why. Cheers, RickO

  • SmudgeSmudge Posts: 9,241 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don’t like the holder. Looks like cheap cardboard made to facilitate fast tarnishing.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,826 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Smudge said:
    I don’t like the holder. Looks like cheap cardboard made to facilitate fast tarnishing.

    Um... that's exactly what it was. ????

  • FreeThinkerFreeThinker Posts: 51 ✭✭✭

    Just an update to show how this medal continues to tone. It's been slightly more than 2.5 years since the first picture was taken making a total time span of about 4 years and 7 months since I inserted the medal into the cardboard holder.

    Whether this medal is marketable or not is beside the point. I'm really enjoying this hobby in my own personal way. Some day, my son will inherit my collection, an oddball mix of my coin and medal designs, with autographed COAs and many silver issues that exhibit similar toning.

  • ConnecticoinConnecticoin Posts: 12,512 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 23, 2024 5:09PM

    The color on the rims would likely be graded “questionable toning” based on my PCGS submission experience. But I think it looks cool and would just enjoy it as-is.

  • FrazFraz Posts: 1,794 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 24, 2024 6:07AM

    Donk

  • DoubleEagle59DoubleEagle59 Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Market acceptable, but is it PCGS acceptable?

    "Gold is money, and nothing else" (JP Morgan, 1912)

    "“Those who sacrifice liberty for security/safety deserve neither.“(Benjamin Franklin)

    "I only golf on days that end in 'Y'" (DE59)

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