Many coins fall into the FUBAH category, including ones with scratches or environmental damage; the most irritating ones are stained. These may seem like restoration candidates at PCGS or NGC. However, chances are they will be returned in their original ungrade-worthy condition because dipping — removing a thin layer of a coin’s surface — may be the only removal method, and even in those cases, the stain will remain, and the specimen will be permanently damaged.
I have written in the past about cleaning coins using MS-70 detergent or Jewel Luster (e-Z-est coin cleaner) dip. The former may remove light PVC damage or verdigris. The latter strips surface metal. True, some coins are candidates for a dip. Expert numismatists know which coins and what percentage of dip and water, etc., to use. (I can’t share formulas here.) But in almost every case, this devalues the coin, earning a details grade from major holdering companies.
Stained coins tempt bidders and buyers because they believe that the marks can be removed with MS-70. They can’t.
I have learned over time not to bid on such coins, even when tempted to do so, as in this example.
The surface here is gem quality. But the ink stain not only would be difficult to remove; there may be an underlying scratch. Beginning hobbyists might believe these coins have value. In my view, this one above has been rendered as “silver melt,” only worth the content of precious metal.
Here’s another example. It has the same ink problem on a 1950-D Franklin half with what looks like full bell lines:
This coin in MS-65 FBL condition would be worth $290 retail. That can lure even experienced hobbyists. But the ink stain across “DOLLAR” dooms the piece and again may reveal a scratch beneath.
This 1916-S Mercury dime had an ink spot which someone tried to remove with a dip. So the coin now has two problems: stain and dipping. It’s another tempting case because the reverse has full bands. A gem coin for this date and mint mark retails at $1,000. Even at MS-63, we’re looking at $225.
But in my view, the coin is beyond all hope and not worth a bid. Perhaps a hobbyist might want it for an album. In such a case, I wouldn’t bid beyond $35. You can see how value is destroyed by an ink stain followed by a dip attempt to remove it. Values plummet.
It goes without saying that a coin with a stain as vivid as this one, probably due to a foiled attempt to artificially tone it, isn’t worth a bid beyond silver melt:
Major holdering companies sometimes overlook minor stains, such as the ones on the reverse of this 1884-O Morgan:
The dull patina on this coin comes from it being stored in a manila envelope. Even with the stains and fingerprint on the lower left by “ONE,” this might be worth a low-ball bid of $50.
You also might find lesser-tier slabbed coins with a grease streak, like this otherwise desirable 1883-O Morgan in an old green PCI holder known for its toning propensities. However, I do not think this would crossover to PCGS or NGC. It might have a chance with conservation from those companies.
As you can see in the examples here, hobbyists must be prudent before wasting funds on FUBAH coins. There are tens of thousands of coins on eBay, HiBid, Proxibid, and Live Auctioneers, not to mention premium ones offered by Stacks Bowers, Legends, Heritage, and Great Collections. Save up and bid on graded coins or raw ones without flaws.