Every home hobbyist should know the fundamentals of rainbow toning
and how to distinguish that from artificial patinas. Rainbow-toned
coins command high premiums on the open market.
Recently I purchased a “brown box” Proof 1971-S Eisenhower
silver-copper clad dollar for $258 from Shane Canup, an eBay seller
and owner of Kryptonitecomics & Coins. I submitted the coin to
Professional Coin Grading Service in its original U.S. Mint packaging,
and it earned a grade of Proof 68 Deep Cameo.
Toned in old folder
I have a near complete set of rainbow-toned Ike dollars, the
majority of them taken from an old Whitman folder where they
target-toned in patterns of green, gold, red and blue. I submitted the
set to PCGS. All holdered at Mint State 65 or Proof 65 or better.
I buy toned Eisenhower dollars regularly from Canup. Determining
natural toning versus artificial or enhanced toning is more of an art
than a science, Canup acknowledges. A hobbyist must understand the
toning process for different metals, especially the patterns that
emerge based on different storage methods.
“Banded rainbow toning looks completely normal and natural on a
Morgan Silver dollar that was stored in a cloth bank bag,” he says,
“but if you were to see that same type of toning on a 2006 Washington
Quarter, then one would have to question how market acceptable the
toning would be.”
Third-party grading companies are reluctant to slab wildly toned
coins for fear they have been treated chemically and may become
unstable, degrading over time into black or unsightly hues.
Whenever Canup analyzes a coin, he asks, “Does the toning look right
on the surface and allow the luster to show through? Or does it look
applied and subdue the luster?
“If a coin is supposed to be album toned does the toning progression
start at the rims and then become lighter towards the center of the
coin? If a coin is supposed to be envelope-toned, does it have deeper
colors on the high points of the devices and lighter colors in the
Buying toned coins should be done for fun rather than for
investment, Canup says.
That should be the guiding principle for hobbyists, not only with
respect to toned coins, but for every item in their collection.
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