There are several reasons why someone would tape a coin. Sometimes, coins are taped to walls, jewelry, or coin albums. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, tape can damage the coin after many years.
Here is a Peace Dollar that was taped.
You can tell this coin has had tape on it for many years by the fact that it has a stripe where there is no toning. It may look as if the tape was good for preventing toning on the coin, but that is not the case.
While the portion of the coin covered by tape did not tone, there is a black stripe of toning where the oxygen, tape residue, and silver interacted. The portion of the coin completely covered by the tape did not tone because it did not have access to oxygen, but the rest of the coin toned faster due to material in the tape.
I have never personally removed tape from a coin. The goal will be to remove as much tape as possible with as little damage done to the coin as I can.
If this was a more valuable coin, I would not be doing this myself. For valuable coins, you should leave the restoration to the professionals at PCGS and NGC.
I used 3 methods to try to remove the tape residue.
If you have a valuable coin you are wishing to remove tape from, acetone is the recommended method. Acetone will have little to no effect on the silver, and should only loosen the glue of the tape.
Make sure to use 100% pure acetone in a metal or glass dish. Nail polish remover will not work as it often includes dyes, fragrances, and other ingredients.
I had high hopes that acetone would be able to remove all the tape and glue from the coin. Unfortunately, the acetone could not penetrate deep enough to dissolve all of the glue.
I was able to peel a small portion of the tape off with my fingernail, but it did not make a noticeable difference.
So after the acetone I tried another method I had seen online…
2.) Olive Oil
I was hesitant to try this method, because I do not know the long term effects of trace amounts of olive oil will have on silver.
I set another bowl aside with olive oil and allowed the coin to soak for about half an hour.
This method worked surprisingly well! I managed to get a decent amount of tape off the surface of our 1922 Peace Dollar.
It was unfortunate that I had to use my fingernail to get it off, as even a fingernail can scratch the surface of a coin, but it seemed the least damaging way I had available.
Here is a close-up shot of the Peace Dollar after the acetone and olive oil.
There was a very stubborn chunk of tape on her hair that I could not peel off. This was the hardest and driest section of tape.
So next I moved onto step 3.
3.) Boiling Water
Leaving the coin in boiling water is supposed to loosen the tape.
I filled a pyrex measuring cup with boiling water and placed the coin inside. I left the coin in for only a few minutes, taking the coin out when I could reach in without burning my fingers.
This method also worked great! I could see immediately that the section I had struggled to pull off in her hair was already loosened.
I was able to get the last chunk of tape off in one motion now. There were still small amounts of residue in her hair, as well as discolorations on the surface of the coin.
Unfortunately, I had done all I could with my less-abrasive methods. At this point I had too options:
- Clean the surface with a Q-Tip (abrasive)
- Let it soak overnight in acetone and hope for the best.
I chose option 1, simply because it is faster. If this was a more valuable coin and I was a professional cleaner I would have opted for option 2.
The toning from the tape has already damaged this Peace Dollar to the point where I am not worried if it gets a few scratches on it.
4.) Q-Tip and Acetone
The Q-tip and acetone worked very quickly. You can see however, that it did cause some hairline scratches to appear on the coin. 😦
Here is the before and after:
It’s a shame that this coin was taped in the first place. Aside from the tape in the first image, this coin was in relatively good condition with minimal scratches.
If you are looking for more information about proper coin handling, check out: 4 Essential Items For Proper Coin Handling and Storage.
Do you know a better way to remove tape from a coin? Share a comment below!