Why is restoring and cleaning centuries old paintings considered a good thing, but cleaning old coins and currency is extremely frowned upon?

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Why is restoring and cleaning centuries old paintings considered a good thing, but cleaning old coins and currency is extremely frowned upon?

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It’s a cultural difference between art collectors and numismatists, but founded on real distinctions between the two. Coins are not unique, so the history of an individual specimen is part of what makes it interesting to collectors. They are also made to be useful. And as a practical matter, cleaning coins often damages them by removing some of the fine details, which cannot be restored in the way that paint can. The history of paintings is also interesting, but the unique expression of the artist is really what’s most important, and they are made to be beautiful, so restoring a painting to the state the artist made it is an improvement.

Preservation of art will make it last longer for future generations to enjoy, and these items are almost exclusively one-of-a-kind. Their value is derived from how well regarded they are as art.

Coins and other such collectables were mass-produced, so their value is derived from how rare they are and what condition they are in when they are collected.

If you let the Mona Lisa decay over time without making an effort to preserve it then it is lost forever and there is no replacement. If you take a bunch of old coins in poor condition and restore them, then the market for those coins becomes flooded and good-condition coins are no longer rare and therefore less valuable.

I hope that clears it up.