What is the proper way to clean coins?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector.
The general rule of thumb is to never clean coins. Ever.
This is particularly important with valuable coins, because a speculator might clean the coin to improve it’s worth – but most cleaning actually is visible to coin graders, and such attempts actually reduce the coins value. But there are times to clean a coin, and consider the best way to handle them – look at this from the internet:
How to Clean Coins – Wikihow
If you are considering selling the coins, definitely do not clean them; store them separately and bring them to a dealer for appraisal. If your coins have sentimental value, souvenirs of a trip, or a gift from a friend, preserve them in a holder or frame, and clean them if necessary – the sentiment is worth far more than the coin.
There is nothing wrong with wiping your coins with an athletic sock or polishing cloth, as these do minimal invasive damage to the coin. You may also want to polish a coin that is deteriorating due to corrosion or oxidation – consider it’s value before attempting this, cleaning can actually diminish the collectible value of the coin if done harshly or with strong chemicals.
After you polish your coins, reduce any further damage by keeping them in plastic holders or traditional coin flips.
A fun thing to do with some coins is to use them as jewelry. In that case, having a clean finish will be necessary, and the finished piece may be worth more than the coin itself.
Here is how you can put an amazing shine on a coin:

He uses Mothers Metal Polish and a Dremel tool with a buffing wheel. (Links to Amazon)

If you are unsure as to clean your coins or not, bring them to a coin dealer and ask! Most are helpful professionals, and have a wealth of knowledge. You can also get an idea from these sites on coin grading, especially when dealing with a coin you suspect has value:
How To Grade Coins Using the Coin Grading Scale – Coin collecting guide for beginners
The Westin St. Francis Hotel washes it’s coins, and has an employee dedicated to the task! “Rob Holsen is the coin washer at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, and perhaps the only coin washer on Earth. He said the hotel on Union Square started washing its coins in 1934 when the general manager noticed a woman’s white gloves getting dirty.” From NBC news
Remember to have fun with your collection! Clean or not, sort your pocket change, and see where your coins have traveled from in the world!
Of course, if you don’t want to mess with those nasty, dirty, coins, just send them to me and I will “take care of them for you”.  Honest.
Thanks for reading my Blog! – Feel free to share!

 

Edited from my Answer on Quora.

Where can I get my coin collection converted into cash?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist
Converting coin collections into cash is a sometimes necessary event that requires some caution, to get more than the face value of the coins.
Collectible coins have a smelt value, a face value, and a collectible value.
You have several options. I would recommend calling in a coin dealer to estimate the value of your coins. some may be valuable, some common, and some just worth their “Smelt”[1] value.
Where to Sell Your Coins – Cointrackers

Several caveats;  Don’t clean the coins, Keep them together in some boxes and handle them with white gloves or a sweat sock to keep finger oils off the coins.  Take pictures of them to send to a remote appraiser and to establish that you had them (proof of ownership).  If you are going to keep them, organize them into coin flips and tubes, and make notations on the contents, condition, and dates.  Consider getting a safe, to keep them together and secure.  (coins can weigh a lot, too – keep that in mind).

Selling to a reputable dealer, collector, (or pawn shop) is the fasted route to liquidating your collection for cash. Keep in mind that these buyers are looking for values below market, to reduce their risk and make a profit on the eventual sale; you may be offered between 10 and 70% of the retail value of your coins.

 

If you have the time and ambition, you can use the internet for valuing your coins, and sell them on your own. Craigslist, EBay, and some of the popular coin sites (forums and for sale sections) are your best options.

 

There are even books on this topic:
Many public libraries have books on coins and periodicals on prices, that you can access for free.
I buy and sell coins on EBay and from individuals, at estate and yard sales. It’s a fun hobby for me, especially when both parties feel they got a good price!
You will need to understand coin grading, as there are many valuations for coins based on condition (grade).  Circulated coins (pocket change) are not worth as much as graded and certified “Mint-State” coins.
If you have the time, and enjoy coins, sort through them and get the valuation of each coin – so you can have a good idea of what the collection is worth.
I use eBay for that a lot, especially with older coins.
Best of luck – Please post a response and let me know how you fared!
Thank you for reading my blog! Feel free to share!
Footnotes
Edited and expanded from my original answer on Quora.
The Last Word:
link to coin-swallowing piggy bank! – from Amazon

 

Why is the cost of production of US coins relatively much greater than other currencies?

cost of production of US penny and nickel
By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist

US coins are backed by the might and presence of the US government. The US Mint produces all the coins and distributes them through regulated channels, and at high security.

In the UK, according to the Royal Mint: ”

The cost of producing United Kingdom coins varies according to the specification of each denomination. The value of metal in each coin accounts for a large part of the total cost, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the broader costs of the manufacturing process. These vary according to the complexity of the coin.  The Royal Mint does not reveal exactly how much it costs to make specific coins as such information could be used to its competitors’ advantage.”

While there is speculation that mints worldwide have similar issues to the US, I will focus on US coins.  It is generally acknowledged that the mint spends more on manufacturing pennies and nickels than than they are worth.

The coins (and notes) are minted to be as unique and resistant to copying as possible. As such, many of our minted coins are made of valuable metals vs. cheap alloys. sometimes these metals exceed the value of the coins. Even “cheap” metals, like zinc (used as a filler to reduce the copper content in a penny) have increased in cost over time.

Production is in the US, by Federal employees, paid on government pay grade. Private companies and other governments may be able to produce cheaper coins, but these are not backed fully by the US Government…

Penny Manufacture Cost – verified by Snopes
US Coins have a lot of detail (detail = expense) to prevent counterfeiters and criminals from stamping out copies of US Coins.  This extreme attention to detail (like seeing President Lincoln sitting in the Lincoln Memorial – see penny below) is visible under magnification.  “The Lincoln cent (or sometimes called Lincoln penny) is a one-cent coin that has been struck by the United States Mint since 1909. The obverse or heads side was designed by Victor David Brenner, as was the original reverse.” – From Wikipedia
If you click on it, the penny image will open in a new tab, and you can magnify it further using your browsers zoom settings.
You can tour the US Mint in Philadelphia and see how most coins are made.  I have been there, and it is an impressive operation.  In addition to the minting operation, debate about the design, the artist, and size considerations may take years.  Take a look at How new coins are designed.
If the US goes to all this effort to make a penny unique and secure, you can see we take our coinage seriously.  And it is not cheap! 
Thank you for reading my Blog! – feel free to share!
Edited and expanded from my Quora answer
The Last Word:

What is the value of a 1974 US Eisenhower dollar?

Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist
 
1974 Eisenhower Dollars
Clad Composition
Mintage: 27,366,000
Minted at: Philadelphia
Designer – Engraver: Frank Gasparro
Metal Composition: 91.67% Copper – 8.33% Nickel
Diameter: 38.1 mm
Mass / Weight: 22.68 grams
The 1974 Eisenhower Dollar is worth $5.96 or more in uncirculated mint condition. Click here to learn how to use coin price charts. Also, click here to learn about grading coins. The Melt Value shown below is how valuable the coin’s metal is worth (bare minimum value of coin). Click here to see the Melt Value of every US coin.[1]
NOTE: Coin Values as of June 2017.
On a personal note, I like the Eisenhower dollars, and have a few in my collection.  they have a solid feel, and are fun to collect.
Thanks for reading my blog! – Feel free to share!
Footnotes
Edited from my Quora answer, June 17, 2017
The Last Word:
republicans. They made them different back then.

 

Why do coins smell so bad?

By Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector (numismatist) and hobbyist
The bane of any coin collector is the smell that can haunt some of your coins.  No one wants smelly coins, but there must be a way to manage it.  Not wanting to suggest you Fabreeze your coins (Don’t do it), I did some digging on the web:
Coins Don’t Smell, You Do – Live Science
There also may be a reaction between the coins and your hands that creates an odor, related to the conductivity of the coins and their PH[1] .
Best suggestions here are to wear gloves, keep the room well ventilated, and wash your hands before and after. In the “Old days” of coin operated slot machines, your hands would be black from the dirt on the coins, and every casino would have a cup of moist hand towelettes for cleaning it off your hands.
Don’t use this with rare of collectible coins! –  EZEST Coin Cleaner Although it is ok to clean dirty pocket change or novelty (not highly collectible) coins.  Cleaning collectible or rare coins will actually diminish their value.  If you want to clean coins without harsh chemicals, consider an ultrasonic coin cleaning kit, under $75 at Amazon, Or from eBay.
I use these when handling coins in my collection:
If you can’t wait for the gloves to arrive, use a special coin cleaning tool, like this:
old sock for coin cleaning
Also known as an old sweatsock.  usually there are a few near the dryer, that you can recommission as coin wipers.
And is the smell is persistent, try a little aromatic spray:
This old method may work for you too….
(Image from Shutterstock)
Thanks for reading my blog! – Feel free to share!
Footnotes
Edited from my Quora answer, June 19, 2017

 

Where are some places to buy coins for collecting?

by Alan Chenkin, Novice coin collector and hobbyist
Coin dealers, EBay, Craigslist, and from friends and acquaintances are great sources. Let people know you are looking for coins, and you may be surprised.
If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is. consider buying a test kit if you are buying gold and silver; GOLD TEST KIT
When you acquire and store collectible coins, just wipe any dirt off them with  special coin cleaning cloth (an old sock), and put them in a “flip”, coin book or folder.  If you want to get a child or teenager into collecting, you can get them a whole kit from Amazon or eBay.
Coin collections start to grow quickly, so you need to keep them in an orderly fashion.
Best of luck!
Oh, and you might need one of these:
Keep in mind that coins can get heavy, make sure the safe is on a floor that can support the weight !
Thanks for reading my blog, and feel free to share!

Edited from my Quora answer, June 28, 2017

The Last Word: