While much of numismatics and connoisseurship focuses around type, years, mintages, and condition, there are other nuances worth considering while enjoying coin collecting. Many individuals build their collections around a type that they enjoy, whether that be the Morgan dollar series, Barber coinage, or period, such as the early Federal era. From here, they attempt to collect each year, mintmark, and major/minor variety, sometimes with a focus on pieces in mint state, other times just what they can afford at the time.
However, over the past few decades, there has been a positive market trend in pieces that exhibit characteristics that add to a coin’s eye appeal and increase its desirability to the collecting community. In some instances, these characteristics don’t add much value to a piece; in others, they can significantly impact an otherwise unsubstantial coin. Skinner’s August 2018 Coins and Currency auction had a few such coins that exhibit attractive toning, turning these pieces into colorful works of art and history.
When assessing the toning of a coin, or how the metal has interacted with various chemicals in its surroundings over time, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are many types of toning achieved from different methods of storage that can affect the pattern, the area of effect, or even the favoring of specific colors. Four coins in the August sale come to mind that exhibit sought-after toning that elevates them past their blast-white counterparts.
An 1862/1 3 cent silver trime (Sold for $400), and an 1884-CC GSA Morgan dollar (Sold for $523), both display a bold plethora of color. The 3 cent piece is with strong hues of blue and green, the Morgan dollar with an allover rainbow effect and nice color progression.
A lot of Small Group of American Coins and Notes includes a Booker T. Washington commemorative half dollar (Sold for $135) that had been stored within its original informational pamphlet. Because of this and the positioning of the coin over many decades, the full obverse toned except for one section. This area was shielded by the printed text, leaving a negative of the text, reading “Washington” boldy across the face. An 1811/0 Colombian 8 escudos (Sold for $1,169), shows hints of mulberry to the fields and towards the edges. While this toning isn’t as extensive as the three previous coins, gold doesn’t react chemically in the same way silver might. It is the small percentage of impurities in gold coins, such as copper or silver, that react, causing this rare and coveted toning.
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