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Patina is a
word used by numismatists to describe ancient coins, not new circulating
coinage. Patinas form on metals, like copper and actually protect
them from further surface abrasion. Caused by water vapor and airborne
sulfur compounds that react with copper and other metals, a patina
is a natural incrustation or oxidation. Every time a penny is held
in someone's hand it oxidizes. The more a penny is handled, the
more its shiny surface dulls forming a tacky brown coating. So much
for a coin's image.
of Greenville, Tennessee makes the penny blanks that are shipped
to the US Mint for stamping. The old method of processing blanks
consisted of a toxic and flammable rinse of BTA (benzo triazole)
in a solution of Isopropyl/alcohol to inhibit surface degradation.
This solution caused staining, which gave the blanks an uneven appearance.
The post-plating process necessitated a more effective, drier film
protection, without a sticky, slow-to-dry surface. A treatment process
was needed that would keep pennies tarnish-free longer while eliminating
toxicity and flammability issues.
was brought into the penny, face-saving operation in 1982. Cortec's
VpCI®-316 was applied in a 1% solution to a re-circulating rinse
system. The blanks were dipped, rinsed and steam dried for a more
effective, drier film protection against corroding elements. Cortec's
VpCI®-316 is a water-based lubricating film that works through a
unique vapor phase action producing a thin transparent protective
coating on metals.
a residual lubricity that is drier and more effective; it actually
prolongs the life of the dies at the US Mint up to five times longer.
The product was designed to replace hazardous corrosion inhibiting
products for copper, brass, copper nickel alloys and silver. VpCI®-316's
environmentally acceptable formula is nitrate, phosphate and silicone
free eliminating the fire hazard and chemical toxicity associated
with oil/solvent-based inhibitors.
became involved, 365 billion pennies have been protected with VpCI®-316.
Because millions of pennies land in household penny jars, the mint
is constantly replenishing dwindling penny reserves at the rate
of 20 billion pennies a year. That's why the U.S. penny represents
35% of all coins minted in the world. The case for the sparkling
penny is a case for embodying universal symbols and founding Fathers
in shinning symbolic completeness.