My recent post about coin cleaning reminded Roland (Swiss Rolly) about an incident when he was a schoolboy in Hertfordshire. The technique he describes certainly cleaned the coins but isn’t recommended for your precious detecting finds … this is a delightful story from childhood.
“When I was at junior school, the building was an old Victorian construction made of relatively soft red bricks. Don’t ask me how but someone discovered that it you scraped a coin against the brick, a very fine abrasive like powder came off. If you rubbed this into the coin for ten seconds or so, it was miraculously cleaned and pennies came out as clean as the day they were minted.
In fairness the Victorian, Edward VII and George V coins required a bit more elbow grease, but George VI came up like new. Clearly we were all oblivious to the tiny scratch marks we made on the coin but who cares when they looked pristine to our eyes. Anyway, this craze soon caught on and everyone started to clean his or her coins. I’m sure they must have been puzzled in the school tuck shop as to why all those ultra clean coins were turning up.
As the term went on the coin clean craze seemed to hit new heights. A game developed out of who could clean the most during a break time. The demand to clean coins increased and new walls were found for scraping. It soon came to an abrupt halt when in one assembly we had the ‘this has got to stop and stop now’ speech. Evidently some teacher inquisitive to why large groups of pupils looked as if praying at the Wailing Wall soon clocked what we were doing and all hell broke lose.
What we had done was effectively wear the bricks away. We had gouged out deep penny sized holes in the wall as we twisted our coins to get out the precious red powder. Basically we had ruined rows and rows of bricks on a number of walls. Some had almost disappeared.
And that was the end of that, until your article had triggered this memory. I was curious to see what had happen of our brick sculpturing. By coincidence I was driving past my old school, stopped to look, and couldn’t believe my eyes. Fifty years later some of our handiwork still survives. You can clearly see from the picture the penny sized bullet holes we created. It was actually far worse than that and it is clear from the picture, extensive brickwork on the right had to be replaced.
I wonder how much our cleaning exploits eventually cost. Hey, but it was great fun while it lasted. After summer holidays it was all forgotten as the conker season was soon on its way.”