Toned versus White.
by Dean Albanese
I had a great conversation with my friends Charlie Brown and Patrick Anthony this week about white coins vs. toned coins, and we all agreed that not enough people are educated about this subject. Coins that are white bearing a date from the 19th century and early 20th century are 100% coins that were dipped out at one point. Like old silver-wear this metal content cannot stay originally silvery white forever, the fact is you have to dip it if you want it to be "flashy" again. This is not a bad thing (taking off the corrosion and toning), as long as it is done correctly and the original skin is left of the coin. Nowadays unfortunately too many "white" coins are turning milky and cloudy, giving them all very unattractive appearances. Believe me I do love a nice white, flashy, lustrous or deep mirrored silver piece (business strike or proof) as long as it has not been played with and stolen of its original surfaces. At the present time these coins are very rare because so many have been ruined. So throw away mintages and pops, because when a "white" coin has an attractive original appearance it is definitely rare and will continue to become even rarer as time goes on. It seemed the past 8 or so years "white" coins were very popular and people wanted the Deep Cameo look on a proof coin, or a White Lustrous look on a business strike coin so of course all the crack-out dealers and doctors over dipped way too many silver coins and you can just walk any bourse floor and see in cases how rare a silver coin is with an original "white" look. They are out there and can be found but the fact remains that too many of our historic coins have been ruined because of a "money making" fad which could have been stopped by the simple education dealers should give customers.
Toned versus white example
Now toned coins are also rare, because yes they can be artificially toned, unfortunately. Artificial toning is a rare case because dipping a coin is so much easier to do; so don't be so paranoid buying toned coins. There is nothing like a deeply rich toned coin with rainbow colors, bull's eye toning, or one side toning. To me these coins show the life of a coin, they tell a story and give each coin their own uniqueness, because no toned coin is the same as another. The fact is eventually every silver coin tones and would eventually turn black or very dark if it were not encapsulated or preserved by dipping it some way or another. So to have a beautifully toned piece of silver holding your favorite portrait and design is like an artistic masterpiece and should be viewed as such. These coins are rare and will continue to become very scarce with the potential of out-performing many other coins in the rare coin market because of these facts, and because people are becoming more educated and will want to own these coins which there are not enough of.
Don't let this market insight make you wary of buying "white" or "toned" silver pieces, because all it takes is a simple conversation with the dealer who should be happy to explain why the coin's appearance is as it is. To me it's fun to explain why coins look as they do, every coin has a story and holds a journey of beauty and history within its periphery.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and happy hunting!
Dean's father David Albanese is a Nostomania coins advisor. Albanese Rare Coins can be reached at their outstanding web site.
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