Medals, old coins, new coins are forever, keep them beautiful forever

If you’ve ever won a medal, been awarded a Military or Royal Honour or own a beautiful coin, you will undoubtedly want to keep it looking as beautiful as the day you proudly acquired it.

But now you and Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, thousands of military and civilian heroes and others have a problem in common – how to keep that precious and beautiful piece of metallic art sparkling.

A London 2012 Paralympic victory medal in perfect condition, being handled with gloves

Whether it’s an Olympic or Military medal or a coin, there are some common principles that apply to caring for it.

Here are some of them:

Keep the leaflet

If care instructions were included, don’t throw them away in your haste to display your pride and joy! It may be some time before you and Usain get the dusters out to restore that original sparkle, but when you do, you’re going to wonder where to start, what to use, and what could be damaging. Medals and coins are made from various metals and alloys, all of which can be damaged or enhanced by the way they are treated.

Below you can view the care instructions that were included with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic winner’s medals.

Keep the case

The original case or box is always the best place to store your treasure, but if you have it proudly on display in a cabinet, at least ensure you always carry it in its original case when transporting it anywhere. The athlete who left his Olympic medal in a taxi a few years ago was probably glad it was stored in its original case rather than being in a bag or sleeve when it was finally returned to him, undamaged.

Be careful with it

Try to avoid any sort of impact or abrasion – this may be particularly relevant in the first few hours of celebrations!  The material bought to make the ribbons for the London 2012 medals was strength-tested to ensure it would resist a medal being joyously swung around.  As far as is known, there were no such mishaps involving the ribbon, but the mount on one medal sheared off when it received what must have been a considerable blow when dropped in the athlete’s shower.

Be gentle with it

Whatever the metal or alloy, use only a soft, dry cloth for cleaning (preferably cotton or soft muslin).  Anything else risks irrevocably scratching or marking the metal, and once done, such damage can be extremely difficult to remove, if not impossible.  Your eye will go to that scratch every time you look at it…

In most cases it is advisable not to clean coins at all!

Be kind to it

Do not use any liquids, chemicals or abrasive cleaning substances.  The London 2012 Silver and Bronze medals were hand-finished with a special coating, so cannot be cleaned and probably will never need to be.  The Gold medals are plated in gold, so can be cleaned with care, as above. Wiping with a water-dampened cloth to remove the dirt and oils that dull the sheen, produces a more lustrous appearance immediately; in many cases this kind of damp-wiping will be enough to restore the original shine.

Paralympic Table Tennis Bronze Medal winner Sara Head at the Royal Mint presenting the Guinness World Record for Oldest Olympic Medal Maker.
Paralympic Table Tennis Bronze Medal winner Sara Head at the Royal Mint

To find out more about The Royal Mint’s long tradition of craftsmanship, heritage and artistryvisit the Discover section of The Royal Mint’s website

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