Coin and Paper Money Collecting/Mercury dime


very dark shink dimes
very dark shink dimes  
I have two dimes from the 1940s that are so dark that I can't read the date. I think they may have been coated with something like lacquer or like the days when as kids we coated them with mercury to make them shine.

They have a brown shiny appearance. How can they be cleaned so that I can read the date? I know not to try to polish them, but there must be something.

Hi Beth,

To me, they actually look like they've been in a fire.

However, it is possible they may have been coated.  If mercury was used, I would strongly emphasize that you wear those thick cleaning gloves when you handle them -- mercury is very poisonous and can be ingested through your skin.

If they're from the forties, their value will only be for the silver they contain -- currently about $1.80 each.  Even if you clean them up, they will not be worth more.

If you really want to clean them up, you can try baking soda -- it's abrasive enough to remove most surface dirt but doesn't leave heavy scratches like polishing can.  If the coating is lacquer, however, baking soda will not likely remove it -- you may have to try soaking it in paint thinner.

Good luck!


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Dan Moore


My strong familiarity with all U.S. Mint coins, extensive reference library, and close relationships with many other dealers allows me to identify just about any coin made in the USA. I receive regular updates to all the current price guides -- both wholesale & retail -- to provide accurate values. So, with a good description or pictures, I should be able to identify and value any U.S. coin you have.


I've been a coin dealer since the 1980's and a coin collector since the 1960's. I specialize in U.S. Silver Coins and have an active online website -- The Working Man's Rare Coins -- -- offering information and inventory in U.S. coins.

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