Gift Buying: Thinking Outside the Box
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Gift Buying: Thinking Outside the Box

I know the frustration of trying to find a gift for somebody who seems to have everything. What finally helped me take the angst out of gift buying was starting to think outside the box. Since then, it seems to be easier to find something that my loved one will like, whatever the occasion. These days, I look in unusual places for gift ideas. Instead of retail shops, I see what is happening at local auction houses. I may look into getting my loved one something they've expressed an interest in recently, like taking guitar lessons. I may even surprise my friend with a visit from a chef who prepares a special meal just for him or her. If you have the gift buying blues, let me help. I'll provide some tips on how to get clues for wonderful presents that will delight and amaze your loved ones.


Gift Buying: Thinking Outside the Box

Coin Appraisal - Understanding How Tone Can Affect Value

Peggy Lee

If you have one or several coins you think may be worth some money, then you should probably get them appraised by a professional. Appraisers take a wide variety of things into consideration when determining the value of a coin. The condition of the coin and its rarity will likely be the biggest factors that determine a coin's worth.

Condition refers to imperfections across the coin while the rarity relates to the age and the number of similar coins that were produced. During a coin appraisal you may be surprised to find out beauty may be considered too. Generally, the tone of the coin is looked at. Keep reading to understand tone and how it may affect coin value.

Understanding Tone

Tone refers to the appearance of a coin in relation to the patina that forms on the exterior of the metal. This tone forms over time as the metal in the coin interacts with its environment. Usually, interactions occur with the air where the oxygen oxidizes the metal and the metal loses electrons. The result is a breakdown of the metal material and the formation of a coating.

Most people think of oxidation as the formation of rust, and this may make you feel negatively about oxidation. However, only steel forms rust or iron oxide. Copper, on the other hand, forms a material called copper oxide. Nickel oxide, gold oxide, and silver oxide are common oxides seen on the exterior of coins as well.

Tone Coloring

The different types of oxides create different tones across the surface of your coins. Copper will form a red-brown, orange, or dark brown coating, and gold will appear with a red, orange, or yellow tone. Nickel will look gray on the exterior, and silver will appear black or brown. In some cases, silver will also appear with a rainbow colored tone.

These colors are likely noted if coins are formed from pure metals. This is rarely the case though, since most coins that have been created for circulation will contain a variety of metals to ensure durability and strength. This means you are much more likely to see some combination of red, brown, gray, black, and yellow tones on your coins.

Poor Tone 

The appearance of the tone, the variation, and the depth of color are all natural indications of age and many coin collectors will see this tone as beautiful. However, if the patina or tone is so dark that it reduces coin detail or if oxidation appears patchy to the point that the coin appears to be of poor quality, then the tone may actually be detrimental to appraisal value.

Although this may be true, it is not wise to clean your coins. Coins that are cleaned of their patina or tone will lose a great deal of their value. In fact, an appraiser will probably not be able to give the coin a numeric value based on the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) scale. Only the details of the coin will be evaluated. Unfortunately, many coin collectors will not buy coins that are not fully evaluated on the NGC scale, because this scale is the standard for determining specific coin condition and value. 

Artificial Coloring

The cleaning of a coin that removes tone can reduce value, and so can the addition of artificial tone. Artificial tone is often applied to a coin that has been cleaned of its original patina. The coin is then dipped in chemicals to produce an ideal patina or tone, like a lighter brown or red color when a black one was originally seen. Unfortunately, altering the tone of a coin will make the patina look unnatural. Usually, the lack of color variation, the placement of the color, or the appearance of a rainbow colored patina only on the outside edge of the coin will indicate artificial coloring.

You need to make sure you never try to alter the tone of a coin, because the appraiser will be able to tell. This professional will also be able to note this issue if your coin was altered like this before you acquired it. This is one reason why coins should be appraised by an expert before you buy a coin, not just when you think about selling it.