Metal Detector Coins – What to Expect

Metal detector coins are really no different than other coins, except that at some point in the past, they were lost. As the technology of detectors has improved, so have these devices become more available. Many a coin collector has emerged from an afternoon of searching a beach, an old playground, or even a backyard.

So what kind of coins can I expect to find with a metal detector?

Depending on where you look, you could find virtually any type of coin that has ever been made. Remember that everyone has lost a bit of pocket change along the way, and most of us have found some as well.

What kind of coins do you want to find?

What would be more exciting to find – a modern dime or quarter made by the bazillions from a tough copper-nickel alloy, or a solid silver coin made when your great grandfather was a small boy?

Think about it… coins are made to circulate among people who earn and spend them. Coins have been spent for almost anything, and anywhere. With a bit of thought, you can imagine where larger groups of people would have congregated, what attracted them to that place, and what they would have spent their money on.

Was there an amusement park located near your town in years gone by? When the circus came to town, where did it put up its tents? Is there a lake with a beach that people have gone to for years? What about schools, playgrounds, areas with older homes? (Be very sure you get permission to do your search. Metal detecting is not a license to trespass.)

Learning the history of your own community, speaking with older relatives and friends – mining their memories – can provide the clues you need to get started.

What kind of coins can be found with a metal detector?

Again, almost any kind of coin that has ever been made. Modern detectors are designed to discriminate between different metals. And it is possible to filter the feedback from the device to emphasize or exclude coins of one composition or another.

Can I find valuable coins?

Most of what you will find will be common rather than rare. After all, most of the coins in circulation now, as in the past, are common within their historical context.

But don’t forget, prior to 1965 dimes, quarters, and halves were made of 90 percent silver. And prior to 1933 gold coins were in use.

Won’t they be kind of messed up from being in the ground, or underwater?

Sure.

They’ll be heavily tarnished and dirty for the most part. You’ll be tempted to clean them, but don’t. Collectors pay much less for coins that have been cleaned. They like them undisturbed. And since you may well be on the way to becoming a coin collector yourself, you will want to keep your coins as original as possible.

Two final thoughts on coins found while metal detecting. First, these coins are acquired at no cost, other than what you’ve spent on your detector. (Don’t count the value of your time – this is fun, not work!) Second, you are receiving each coin, not from a coin dealer or an auction, but from the hand of the person who lost it. That connects you with people and events of another time in a way rather different from reading a history book.

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