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There Was the Uncola and Now the Undoctored
August 17, 2010

A law of physics says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This sometimes holds true in numismatics.

Collectors and dealers worry about the impact that coin doctoring has on the hobby. They are right to worry. The purpose of coin doctoring is to deceive.

However, one of the things I have learned in Boston is that there already is a cottage industry undoctoring coins that have been treated with putty.

I understand that the putty, which can give coins a nice frosted look when new, is easily removed and there are dealers who are doing this and returning coins to a more natural state.

Now this process cannot create pristine coins, but collectors who live in a world of “what you see is what you get” are more able to evaluate a coin that has been undoctored.

Of course, other forms of coin doctoring can be destructive of original surfaces, so not everything done to a coin can be undone.

However, partial good news is better than no good news at all.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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