All silver will tarnish. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. But you would think that the way people talk about it that they had just contracted some terminal illness. Tarnish/Toning is actually a very normal thing in the world of Silver Coins.
What Exactly Is Tarnish?
Down to the the nitty-gritty. Tarnish is a chemical reaction that occurs when silver comes into contact with humidity and chemicals in the air which causes silver to lose its beautiful luster. When the atoms of silver come into contact with oxygen, a layer of silver oxide is created as a protective barrier – much like rust. However, unlike rust, silver tarnish is self-limiting and the underlying layers are not affected by the outer layers of tarnish. This not only happens to silver, but also happens to copper, aluminum, brass and other similar, soft metals. Tarnishing is simply the product of oxidation.
Tarnish vs. Toning
When strictly speaking about tarnish on coins, the term “toning” is the preferred vernacular. Toning on coins is sometimes a desirable trait that is all subjective. We’ve all heard the term “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That term could never be more apparent than when it concerns coins. Some people prefer crisp, pristine, “white” silver coins. However, some people love the beauty of rainbow-toned silver Morgan Dollars.
Rainbow toning in Morgan Dollars is more common than in other silver coins. This is because many coins were stored in U.S. Treasury vaults in canvas bags for decades and in some cases (The Battle Creek and Continental Bank Hoard) for up to a century. The coins that were closest to the canvas were constantly in contact with a tiny concentration of sulfur. Sulfur was used in the bags to prevent rats from chewing through them. The silver in the coins reacted with the sulfur to form a thin layer of silver-sulfide. It is that thin film that refracts the light and creates the beautiful rainbow toning seen on many toned Morgan Dollars.
How Can I Protect My Coins From Tarnish?
The best way to prevent coins from developing toning is to limit their exposure to the elements. For example, a basement is normally not a good place to store your coin collection because basements often contain higher rates of humidity than compared to the rest of the house. The best way to store your precious metals would be to have them stored in a hermetically sealed chamber (void of any air or gas) and have them not be in contact with any surface (impossible considering we have gravity). However, since this is a near impossibility, you’ll want to store your precious metals with as little contact to the air and elements as possible.
Many people purchase “air-tite” coin holders thinking they’re preventing air from touching their coins, but because there is air all around us, when they enclose their coin in the holder, they don’t realize that air is already present. (BUY AND USE NON PVC ONLY COIN PROTECTORS!)
NEVER ATTEMPT TO "CLEAN" A COIN! IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY CLEAN A COIN WITH NUMISMATIC VALUE (RARE, KEY DATE, ETC.) YOU RUN THE VERY LIKELY CHANCE OF DRASTICALLY LOWERING THE VALUE OF YOUR COIN!
SILVER COINS CAN RUN IN VALUE FROM THE ACTUAL SILVER WEIGHT VALUE TO EXAMPLES OF RARE MINTS AND DATES THAT THE SKY IS THE LIMIT!
At Texas Gold and Silver Buyers of San Antonio, Texas we are always PAYING TOP DOLLAR ON YOUR SILVER COINS! GIVE US A CALL OR COME BY TODAY FOR A QUICK, HASSLE FREE, TOP DOLLAR QUOTE.
Thanks for stopping by our blog. My name is Evan and I am the owner of Texas Gold and Silver Buyers in San Antonio. From time to time I will post blog entries to help educate and inform our customers and potential future customers on all aspects of Precious Metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum & Palladium!)