What’s it Worth?

We had an unusually warm day yesterday and I decided to take the car to the car wash. Once I got there I realized I didn’t have any small bills and inserted a ten dollar bill into the changer, receiving a lot more quarters than I needed. In fact after putting them in my pocket I tilted to the left.

I started putting the quarters in the coin slot but stopped because they just didn’t feel right. I looked at each one and they were extremely light and felt almost like play money. Now I’m pretty sure our coins have been like this for some time but it took a sh#t load of them in my hand to really make me stop and take notice. So what does this have to do with the price of bananas? Absolutely nothing at all but it did get me thinking about what our money is ‘really’ worth and in particular my what my detecting finds are ‘really’ worth. Have I got a nice little nest egg, a rainy day fund or am I just imagining that?

I think many of us who started detecting years ago assume we have a decent sized cache should we need it but realistically we probably don’t. Why? Well first off we’re subject to the law of supply and demand and that changes daily as in the economy and in particular the precious metal market. Next and most important who are we going to sell our finds to? Most likely a coin dealer and it’s only reasonable that he or she needs to make a profit on what they buy, automatically reducing the value of our collection.

Weighing the options….

Now I’ve always been a coin hunter so I know my finds will always be worth face value but what about all that silver? How much are those Mercury dimes worth and what about the Barbers, Seated and the silver Roosies? What about the Indian heads, wheaties and other coppers? I’m aware of the keys and semi-keys and that certain error coins are worth more but do I need to start looking at and each and every one? Given my fondness for sitting on my ass maybe this is the way to go – invest in a good microscope, spend my days going cross-eyed and come up with a realistic value for my finds.

Of course there’s also the metallic value. With silver currently at around $17 an ounce I should be in pretty good stead. Then again could it go higher? I remember well the silver spike in 1980 when the Hunt brothers manipulated the demand and it rose to almost $50 an ounce. I jumped in, made a killing and a two months later the price fell to around $14 (it also spiked in 2012). Could something similar happen again? Is it time to consider selling? Maybe cull the more valuable dates, cash the rest in and buy gold or a few key coins? I am after all a year and half shy of turning 80?

How high will it go?


Books & boxes

Early on I put all my good finds in 2 x 2’s with a notation of grade, where I found them and stored them in coin boxes and like almost every other collector I tried my best to fill coin albums by date. When I look at the 2 x 2’s I’m often reminded of the sites and in some cases I actually remember the moment I dug the coin. Usually it was because it was a larger denomination coin or one that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t have been at that particular site. These 2 x 2’s are in a way souvenirs and the thought of selling them bothers me. On the other hand storing them in a safe and out of sight is hardly inspiring.

Yup, we all did it…

A dilemma

Putting a price on my finds is somewhat daunting. It means looking at each and every coin, reviewing my original assessment (G, F, VF, XF, etc.) and coming up with a current “dealer” price –  an extremely time consuming endeavor but the alternative is to take it ‘all’ to a dealer, let him or her put a value on it. I’m not at all comfortable with that. Of course I could leave it to my grandkids to deal with but would they make wise decisions? What to do, what to do…..

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” — Yogi Berra




Filed under Metal Detecting

27 responses to “What’s it Worth?

  1. Bob Sickler

    Dick… If you run out of good metal detecting spots down there in Texas, there’s always sofa diving at the local landfill! 🙂

  2. John Howland

    Ah, the great Berra. Great quote. Forget all that sofa diving do what we do over here. A Limey fisherman was once asked what we do over here in the UK in the summer. “We fish, farm, and fornicate,” came the reply, “But in the winter we don’t fish or farm.”

    Up yours


  3. john taylor

    re bury ’em dick! draw up a “map” and let the relatives find ’em! (or maybe not?)..you could re bury ’em, and give the map to the reverend howland,and me! from the looks of it, be well stocked in scotch, and mad dog for a beast of a long time! .i’m just sayin’


  4. john taylor

    ok! it’s the thought that counts! just sayin’


  5. Ed B.

    I understand your feeling that it’s a bit hard to let go of all those silver or old coins you dug over the years. I still have every silver coin and piece of sterling jewelry I ever found since I started detecting in 1983. To sell them would break my heart so I’ll keep them.
    If you did decide to sell yours be aware that common date silver coins are bought pretty much only for bullion value and that grade, whether just “good” or “vf” means nothing to the dealer, so no need to knock yourself out grading the common ones. If the coin has “REAL” numismatic value even an honest dealer will most likely only give you 40-50 cents on the dollar. On most numismatic coins the book or catalog value is usually higher than the real value. I attend coin shows 6-7 times a year and can say without a doubt that most coins sell for less than any “book” value.
    Now that I’m in my 70’s my buying and “collecting” has shifted from sets and type coins to 99% precious metal items because they are much easier to dispose of when the time comes and the dealer buy price is only a few percentage points below retail unlike coins with numismatic value where the buy price is only a small fraction of retail. I once read a quote from someone who stated that collectibles, whether it be coins or anything else are based on the “NEXT BIGGEST SUCKER THEORY” . In other words, to make a profit you have to locate the person who is willing to give you more than YOU paid for it.

    • Ed, I understand, trust me. I haven’t made any decisions yet and want to do my homework so that I’m not “that sucker”. Likewise if I decide not to sell I want to at least be able to pass on an “approximate” value to my kids/grandkids.

  6. john taylor

    i’m with you ed! still have everything i have found since ’77..can’t bear to let ’em go! most of it is bullion, and won’t fetch much if i ell! the sentimental value is worth more to me.i am thinking i may make a treasure map, and re bury everything, so when i ”croak” my relatives will enjoy ”rooting” around for the goodies! not sure exactly what i have, but it’s a lot, along with gold too!..never really cared about any of it to be truthful, just enjoyed finding it is all.

    dick! i gotta be honest with you! a man with your impeccable credentials as a salesman will stand you in good stead, when you decide to (dump) i mean ,unload all your treasure! i believe your concern to be “unfounded!” anybody that can earn a living representing “garrett” detectors as a “pitchman” for years, in my view, should encounter no issues whatsoever.

    • JT why don’t you really tell us how you feel about Garrett detectors? No on second thought don’t!!

      • john taylor

        dick! garrett detectors “suck!”..with that said, i wish you no ill will for selling them! i tried to use them but that “boing-boing” tone damn near drove me mad, and hell’s a fire, i am nutty enough as it is (ask the wife!). with that said, was always “cloaked” in that sh*t color brindle color “puke green”.every time i viewed one, would damn near “soil” myself! the earlier one had sh*t for depth, but the at pro (finally) got ’em some respect!.to each his own dick! i always had good luck with whitey’s offerings, particularly,the “dead nuts” accurate 6000xl pro.fantastic analog meter, and really super accurate. i like the little tesoro mojave.i have learned the audio, and it has great audio modulation love to “smack” curb strips! found my share, and more to find!

      • Hope that little anti-Garrett rant will do you for a while J.T.. Now put the bottle down, please!

  7. Tony

    Dick, this subject is always on my mind nowadays due to my age and my children have no interest. Back when Gold and Silver were at all time highs – I wasn’t and didn’t unload then as many of us should have but hey it’s a hobby and that is what hobbyist do. If we decide to move into a smaller home then I probably will be forced to downsize.

    • Yeah I get the “I will never sell my finds” mantra but age does indeed enter into it and there’s a good chance that whoever inherits it all will not care about the history/memories or get the true value. I also have a few big bills that are bothering me.

  8. Well, I’m with you Dick. I can’t see anything unethical with selling one’s finds and why not? They were all legally found and are your property to do with as you and only you see fit. Fine Arts dealers, and collectors, do it all the time.

    I seriously doubt that when we have passed to that big coin shooting park in the sky, our inheritors pay much attention to our collections except to find out what they are worth!

    Indeed, what is meant by the “true value” anyway? To us it means one thing, and to others it’s something completely different. For example that .55″ lead Minnie Ball I found at Gettysburg (NOT on the protected area) is more valuable to me than any of the gold I’ve found.

    (Maybe you’ll eventually be able to pay off debts – say of around 20 Bucks? I’ll watch for the mailman).

  9. Tony

    One person I knew (he is gone now) had a wise saying – Those coins and rings aren’t paying rent in my drawer, so out they go. I also wonder why I keep dug wheat cents? Do you think the Mint would take them back and reuse the CU

    • I had a friend who used to say “you can’t eat ’em”….

      I too have a lot of wheaties (rolls) and I keep promising myself that I will go through them again to check for all the errors that are supposedly bringing big bucks. As for the copper I suspect the bank would just put them in circulation.

  10. john taylor

    hi dick!
    if anybody should ask you, you can tell ’em..”well” i never seen him take a drink”
    i agree with the possible bank action just pitch ’em back into circulation. i’m just sayin’


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