Coinhunting, Theory & Reality…


Since this Bubba is dealing with cold temps and nursing aches and pains, I am once again recycling a scribble from one of my books. This one is from “In Search of Treasure”, published of course by White’s Electronics… Heres hoping it’s informative and useful to someone, somewhere…


I want to expound a little now on the actual act of coinhunting…. what it’s all about and what you can realistically expect of your efforts. In case you didn’t know, metal detecting, or if you wish, treasure hunting, is not an exact science, nor is it a subject you need to have a degree to excel at.  It’s an outdoor activity that involves four ingredients… a goal, good equipment, a plan and adequate research.

You buy a metal detector to find coins or other similar treasures, and as such you already have a goal. Next, assuming that you studied the various manufacturer catalogs, and compared the various bananas and oranges….you’ve bought the best detector your money can buy.  Now all you need to do is go out and find treasure.

Sounds easy, right?  Well it’s really not.  You’re overloaded with all the information and specifications you read about, what was promised you in the magazines, and now you are puzzled as to just where to begin?  You want to find old turn-of-the century coins….Barbers, Seated Liberty coins, etc., but just what do you need to do to find them?

Well start by exhausting those sites you “thought” held treasure… those areas that initially caused you to purchase a metal detector. After all no one invests in one if they don’t have some idea of where to use it. Whether it’s Uncle Buck’s liquor stash, Grandpa’s buried cache, or that old ball field off highway 66 that no one knows about but you, there’s a reason why your spent the money.

Initially you will find a coin or two, realize that indeed your detector does do what it’s supposed to do, and that in itself is pretty exciting.  I mean damn, now you can go home and justify the expense to your wife.  Soon however you will exhaust those sites you were sure would give up more than they did, and you will become frustrated. You will then start detecting the local school yards, parks and beaches, hoping old coins will surface and when they don’t, or when the finds aren’t of significant value, you will put the detector in the closet, to use another day.

Am I beginning to depress you? Am I on the money with my description of your coin hunting experience so far? Well, while this is not my intention, it is my purpose to explain where you went wrong.

Want old coins? Look in old places….


All seasoned detectorists have been through the above scenario, and those that continued and had success, were those that had a realistic plan, and knew how to achieve their goal. They read a lot, asked questions when needed, and documented their findings. In essence they knew that to find old coins, they had to research and find old sites.

To find a 1914D Lincoln penny, they had to hunt areas that were in use in 1914, and to find lots of silver they had to spend their time at “money sites”….areas that necessitated the use of money to exist (old carnival grounds, amusement parks, roadside stands, etc.). They had a plan, and they did what was necessary to make it come to fruition.

So if you do all these things will success come automatically? Absolutely not, but it will happen more frequently. Anyone with a metal detector can participate in hit or miss searches. Their finds will reflect that, with a decent find sprinkled in here and there among the trash. The successful detectorist however will consistently bring home interesting finds, day in and day out. He will also become more knowledgeable each time he searches because he took the gamble, and searched that site that no one had thought to check, and now understands the potential it offered…good or bad.

Each trip into the field should be a learning experience for you. Never waste your precious time searching the same ole school yard, when there’s a newly plowed field alongside that old farmhouse just outside town. Better yet instead of wasting time with clad finds and pull tabs, spend it at the tax office, looking up landowners whose property you’ve been wanting to detect.  A phone call may be all that is needed to assure your next trip out is a profitable one.

To sum up this lengthy dissertation, or if you wish, “who asked you” comments….

While you don’t need a degree to be a successful coin hunter, you do need to put in time and effort. Your detector will find coins IF there are coins to be found. Taking it to the right places is YOUR job, and it’s not a difficult one, unless YOU want it to be. You can work at your pastime or you can mope and complain. The end results will show which path you have taken, and you know what?  It ain’t rocket science!



They profess that it’s not jealousy when a hoard or historical find is uncovered, but my, my, my how they can suddenly go berserk when one is made. The recent Lenborough hoard has the archaeological blogosphere huffing, puffing and blowing so much smoke it’s hilarious. They piss and moan about how it was physically recovered (despite there being a FLO present), what damage was done to the area, and how now, everything of importance is gone.  Well of course. I mean now that this small, six by six area was disturbed, no reason to follow-up with any additional digging is there?

Yep, probably better this hoard, like all the others found by detectorists, was left in the ground for that archaeological dig that was surely going to take place someday in the not too distant future? 

Oh well, on to the next hoard!

Oh well, on to the next hoard!








Just ole bobblehead Dick….



Happy New Year


Filed under Metal Detecting

6 responses to “Coinhunting, Theory & Reality…

  1. Digging History

    Good solid information Dick, great advice to put a detectorist on the right track. I liked the “How dare the tekkies do this” section, I’l be interested in what else they have to say.
    Cheers Dick and my regards, James 🙂

  2. Now, if there was a ‘National Dickhead Day’, I have two excellent nominees.

  3. Great post as usual… Loved the bobble head pic….lol

  4. Dave Wise (HeavyMetalNut)

    great write up! research,patience & persistence!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.