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'Right to clean' a wrong

I had a telephone call from a woman who asked me whether it would be OK clean her coins with acetone.

I asked if she was trying to remove green residue from PVC.

She jumped on the green part and I got the idea she did not really know what PVC was. She also used another term that I could not make out even though I asked her to repeat it.

I thought it would be rude to ask her to say it a third time.

I did find out that the coins she was thinking of cleaning were cents.

At that point, I told her that a general rule in the hobby is that it is usually better not to clean a coin. Too often, the result is coins with an unnatural color that no one would want to buy.

She accepted my advice, but with a tone of voice that leads me to believe she will clean her cents anyway.

Just what is this urge to clean coins?

Some collectors find the advice not to clean to be an intrusion on their right to clean.

Sure, you have the right to do something to your own property, but if you want to sell that property to someone else, you need to offer it in a condition that the next buyer wants to pay for.

It is not a matter of right but simply of pleasing that person you are going to sell your coins to.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."