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With a bit of research looking at old topo maps and aerial photos, I found another promising site 5 minutes from my home. It's currently a school built about 25 years ago with a nice size sports field. What I found is that an older school was previously located where the sports field is now. Bingo! Along the street I could see old sidwalk and concrete steps outside the school fence so decided to start there on Saturday. Fisher F75 w/5"x10" concentric, de (default) process, gain of 70, no disc, 4H tones. Quite a bit of trash, but still manageable with this coil. Found a couple copper pennies (one at 4" depth, other a bit shallower) which I couldn't identify -- good sign -- so put them in the secret slot of my nail apron.
After about 3 1/2 hours of my allotted 5 I decided to switch to the 5" DD round coil (otherwise same settings) and test the schoolyard on the other side of the fence, but still in the shade. Might have been my first hit -- boucing a bit but in the 'good coin' range (i.e. higher than Zincoln) so started to dig. I had a couple issues with this hole: 1) 1/8"-1/4" roots of nearby tree -- try not to cut those, this isn't my property..., and 2) about 2-3 inches down I was hitting crushed stone. Was this previouly a driveway, or was it backfill? I should have been a bit more careful but when it's getting later in my hunt I'm tired and tend to work fast (sloppy). About 4 inches down I see white metal... Could it be? Out comes a coin and turning it over I see the classic reverse of a Mercury dime! My research has been justified; this is an old site. Kept searching but nothing else turns up of value. End of day 1 but I already have plans for day 2, even though I have other plans/tasks and won't be able to get out as early or for as long. (Good news: my sloppy digging/prying didn't mar the coin, but lesson learned?)
Day 2: decided to try put the concentric coil back on and return to where I found the Merc. I'm getting a lot of clipping of signals (recall, no disc so that isn't it) and start wondering if there is a problem. Then I remembered how many overloads I had gotten with the 5" DD the day before. Was this area littered with sheet metal scraps large enough to cause overloads and clipping? I kept going without success, then decided to wander over to another spot near the fence (less likely backfilled). Got a strong signal with high ID but when pushing the coil close to the ground (better pinpointing and ID determination) the detector overloaded. Hmmm, this seems like a small target, but overload? Pop can? I decided to investigate (I'm one of those paranoid searchers that just knows that as soon as I skip one it'll be the Heart of the Ocean ) so I push the tip of my Lesche down about an inch and out pops some kind of silver(?) jewelry, annular shape (but not a finger ring). Into the hidden pocket for later inspection.
As I return to where I found the Merc my eye catches something very bothersome -- a 3-4 inch diamter hole in the ground, rather deep. Had I forgotten to fill in my excitement yesterday? But where is the dirt pile? I'm sure this is something I had dug, but I never fail to backfill. In fact, after cutting a sod plug, everything that comes out of the hole goes into a gold pan I carry just for this purpose. Empty the pan back into the hole and replace the plug. I didn't leave my gold pan so I had to have refilled. WTF?? Well, I need to fill it back in so I look around for some stones. Peering on the other side of the fence (there was a deep drainage cut next to the street and I had seen rubble there yesterday which would work) I see another similar hole! Now I'm really annoyed. Is this why detectorists get banned, accused of not filling their holes? Obviously some animal (humans are animals, too) had re-excavated a couple of my holes. After filling in both I have a decision to make -- should I just cut bait and jump ship? I don't want any more of this to happen. This is a schoolyard and kids can twist ankles in such a hole. Then I decided I hadn't done anything wrong. Why let someone ruin my day?
With the signal overload still on the back of my mind, I decided to switch to the Fisher Gold Bug Pro with 5" DD and see how it performs. I also was curious to see what ID's it shows. Retracing my tracks inside the fence I confirm with several overloads -- something big is under the surface and I'm not digging it. Also, the sun is moving such that I'm running out of shade inside the schoolyard and I recall that I had left some ground unsearched outside the fence (where there is shade) so back there I go. The usual junk (foil, grrrr) but before my 3 1/2 hours are up I made three interesting hits which I'll finish with here before showing the loot haul.
A) Getting an inconsistent ID near nickel 5 cent -- that is typical of ring and beavertail so this is my guess. Handheld pinpointer (White's TRX) signals so I dig and find a small nail. Now most of you know that nails, depending upon orientation, can be all over the ID scale. Was this it? Then I look in the gold pan and there is round disk -- had already pulled it out without noticing -- dark (nickel size) coin. So the signal was jumpy because I had two targets, one good and one bad. I'm learning all the time.
B) searching right along the vertical edge of the concrete sidewalk I get a high ID (but not clean) and decide to dig. Nothing on the TRX at first, but then a couple inches down it sounds off, and a bit more digging reveals a tiny ring. How can that read high? Back over the hole with the GB-Pro and another signal, this time some junk (can't remember but probably wad of aluminum foil). Was the high tone from the junk? Did I even get a signal from the ring or was this find completely serendipitous? Into the hidden chamber!
C) about out of time, I get a strong coin (copper penny or dime) hit and figure it's close to the surface, probably a recent drop. Immediately I see an exposed tree root right where the signal is. Have to dig around that. TRX sounds strong and as I work my way around the root it seems like it's actually inside the root. Now what? In the past when this has happened I've just thrown in the towel, not wanting to damage anything. But I noticed the root appeared to split into two branches so I pried between and out pops a penny. Hmmm. I still figure it's new (Memorial, but not Zincoln) and put it into the pouch. Done for the day, I decide to attempt to atone for my sins (holes I dug, filled, and someone else redug) so I gather up a bunch of trash that the wind had collected along the fence inside the schoolyard and headed home.
The picture shows my good finds. The two days yielded 4 Zincolns (junky looking, as typical), 2 Jeffies ('77 and '81), one clad dime and one clad quarter. No copper Memorials but 3 Wheaties -- a '46-D from day 1 and a 1919 (considerably worn) -- this latter being the one nearly on the surface stuck in the tree root! The Merc is in nice condition but a super common date (1941 plain = Philadelphia mint). I suspect the gold ring is cheapo plate with a glass 'stone' but need to investigate further. I'll also do a specific gravity measurement on that other piece of jewelry to see if it is really solid silver or just silver plate. Neither of these had any markings that I could see.
My find of the hunt (from day 1) is the pictured penny -- 1932-D. Without considering the scaling from decades in the ground, the condition is approaching extremely fine (EF) based upon the lack of wear to the reverse wheat stalks. I'm soaking in olive oil per advice from SS-Al and Deft Tones, hoping this will clean up the scales. Looking at my Redbook, I count 140 date+mintmark 'business strikes' (meant for circulation) Wheat pennies in the 50 years (1909-58) they were minted. The 1932-D is #16 in lowest mintage. This is easily my scrarcest Lincoln detector find ever. With the scales it's not worth much, and even cleaned up it's likely only worth a few bucks (haven't searched Ebay for the appraisal), but it's still a top find for me.
Conclusion: In the past 7 weekends I've found old coins at all four sites within 10 minutes of my house. I'm not done searching any of them. However, I recall reading here (sorry, forget who the posters were) that some recommend to stop digging in the dry season in public places (like my parks and schools). I'm going to heed that advice. It's less likely that whoever redug my holes would have done so or made such a mess if it weren't dry season. Besides, I have some creeks to hunt which just might (very great longshot) yield my first detectable gold or possibly some coins. Crazier things have happened. That will keep me busy until the fall rains. And if I have just a little time to spend I'm going to work the backyard on my digging techniques -- try for smaller holes. That's gotta help in the long run, too.
This is a long post, so if you are in a hurry you can just jump to the end to see the (fuzzy) pic.
I've been searching a particular muni park for about a year now. It has been a city park since the late 40's, and in the late 19th and first quarter of the 20th century it was a stone quarry which eventually filled with water and became a swimming hole (legal or otherwise). You wouldn't know its history from looking, though. I'd estimate I've hunted there for 40-50 hours and two best finds are a 1900's Indian Head and Civil War button (don't know how that ended up here). About 6 weeks ago I noticed that an old tree overhanging the park (but appearing to be on a private lot with house) had been surrounded by one of those orange plastic fences with associated "keep out" signs saying something about "vegitation protection". At first I feared I might even share some responsibility since I've dug under that tree multiple times. Did I damge the roots? I decided to lay low and work in my other parks and schoolyards until the vigilante posse tired and went home.
Last week while driving by I noticed that the house (with the tree on its property) was gone! Unfortunately much of the lot had been dug up and smoothed, but quite a bit was still in its original sodded state. I fairly quickly reached a conclusion (which might not be right) that the city had bought the property to append to the park. In my possibly faulty thinking this made it fair game for hunting. I was out-of-town for the weekend but the morning of the 4th was open, so....
I took all three of my VLF's with small coils (5" round on F75, 6" 7.5 kHz round on my X-Terra 705, and 6" coiltek prototype DD on the Gold Bug Pro). I started with my new F75 in discrimination 'de' (default) process wide open for any metal, 4H tones (four in number with nickels hitting high), and I think a gain of about 90. Started swinging at 6:55 AM and within a couple minutes had my first positive signal. I tend to dig-it-all (except ferrous and maybe foil), at least starting out, so pulled out the Lesche (garden trowel size) and at about a depth of only 2.5 -- 3 inches (7-10 cm) out popped the all too rare glint of silver ("silv in the hole!" as KG and Ringy like to shout, but I kept silent). Those of you who coin hunt know that most of the time (all the time in my limited experience) you know silver immediately because unlike copper, nickel 5c, nickel clad, and the disgusting zinc coins, silver doesn't tarnish/discolor in the ground. First good target = first dig is a silver Mercury dime. I avoid rubbing coins right out of the ground and I don't wear bifocals anymore when hunting so I couldn't see a date if I wanted. But I knew the coin design I had. Date to be determined later.
By about 8:00 AM, with a few more good targets (copper pennies, but I couldn't see a Memorial and, as above, wasn't about to rub to find out) I decided to switch to the Gold Bug Pro. After another hour I went to the X-Terra 705 and finally with only about half an hour remaining before I had to get home and cleaned up for a holiday reunion I went back to the F75, but this time in fa ("fast") process. (Since my original dig I had not found any real silver, but in total I had 11 copper pennies, one Stinkin' Zincolnd, and one clad dime.) In my very limited experience, fast process is much more susceptible to EMI, and I have a Digital Shielding Technology (DST) version F75. So I turned down the gain to about 65-70 range, still quite high compared to many detectors. I looked at my cellphone a while later to see "10:30" and decided "time for one or two more digs" and quickly got an 83 reading, which is right where quarters are supposed to hit on the F75. Down about 4 or so inches I experience another coin hunter's high -- the white reeded edge of a silver US quarter! You now have probably figured out my title -- 'covers' = first and last digs of the hunt are the best finds of the day.
Although my picture taking is so bad you probably can't read the date on the Merc, it's a 1937 in F-12 condition. The 1940 Washington is well worn ('G' condition might even be stretching it). Neither has a mintmark and in terms of worth (to anyone but the finder ) these have silver bullion value only. Of the 11 coppers, 6 Memorials and 5 wheats, with the oldest being 1916 (plain = no mintmark, so Philadelphia); two in the 40's and two in the 50's, with none being key/semi-key dates+MMs. As mentioned, one Zincoln and one clad dime. Amazing (to me) ratio of old to new coins.
This weekend looks like another opportunity and I've only covered about 50% of the undisturbed ground in that lot, so fingers crossed for more excitement.
Quality metal detectors have been around long enough that it isn't easy to find virgin ground, no matter what the target goal (coins, relics, nuggets, even jewelry). As previously mentioned, I got hooked on coin collecting when I was in 1st grade thanks to the influence of my mom and two of her brothers. I found my first coin with a metal detector the summer before my senior year in high school (1970). After school and three years in a good job, in 1979 I sprung for a Garrett Groundhog, thinking I would use it to make a nice profit hunting coins and nuggets the way Charles Garrett and Roy Lagal described it in their books.... Then life (many other interests) got in the way. Fast forward 36 (now 38) years when I was again bitten with the MD bug. A lot happened in the treasure hunting world in those 36 years. Detectors got a lot better, and the hobby (or even 'profession' for some) had blossomed. The low hanging fruit had been picked. There is still plenty of treasure in the ground, but most is not very close to the surface and/or severely masked by junk metal, meaning it's going to take new equipment and techniques and/or a disproportionate amount of digging to find the good stuff. But as always, there are exceptions.
I mentioned in a recent thread last week that I had stumbled upon a lot where an old home had recently been razed, and it appears that the city now owns it with the intent of appending the land to an adjacent park. It's like stepping back in time -- a time when the detectors were few and primitive. And on my journey on this time machine I was allowed to bring along a Fisher F75! I felt like Cinderella at the ball.
My previous post reported that in 3 1/2 hours on Independence Day I found two silver coins along with five Wheat cents, using three detectors to sample the ground. This past Saturday I stayed the entire time with the 5 inch DD on the F75, FA (fast) process, gain of 70, zero discrimination, 4H tones. I had twice as much time to hunt and I only stopped to get water and food which I brought along in the car. I again dug two silver coins (dimes -- see photo below) but this time 34 coppers, NO zinc, and only two clad (dimes). Earlier my Wheat to copper ratio was 50%. If that held up I'd have 17 Wheaties. I could only hope. Arriving home and soaking them, I was amazed to see 27 reverses with Wheat stalks. You'd have thought I spent the day on a combine in Kansas. Four Wheats per hour. Will I ever again experience such a high recovery rate? To emphasize, I hunted two rectangles in those seven hours, one along the city sidewalk, about 6 ft X 60 ft. The other was of similar area along one side of the now missing house. I wasn't finding 'spills'. One hole had three coppers and another had two nearly touching Memorials, but all others were single finds.
The most enlightening thing to me is the depth of the coins. All but one (in that group of three coppers) were 4 inches or less. The Barber dime was in the 3 1/2 --> 4 inch depth range. The Merc was 1 inch deep! I don't think the ground where I found the Merc had been distrurbed or reworked recently. The sod looked typical of the area. Is this what it was like back in the late 80's and 90's? Many of you should remember.
I returned the next day for another 5 hours but the glass slipper had fallen off and the coach had reverted to a pumpkin. I'll give a followup post on that hunt plus next weekend's planned return hunts. There has to be more there, but now I've harvested the low hanging fruit and what's left appears to be seriously masked with iron nails from the missing house.
By KS Stick
Freezing Rain here in Kansas thought I would share my story if it's ok with Steve.
Two Gold Coins
It was July in 1985 I had been Metal Detecting since the early 60’s. I started with a Heath kit from Radio Shack than 2 Compass detectors Judge and Judge-2 , in 1983 I bought a Teknetics 8500 and converted it to a hip mount .
In July 1985 after a summer rain my brother was hunting arrow heads in a plowed field and a Deer had ran across the field his hoof had flipped over a 1880 Silver Dollar. I got a call that night from him and he told me the story said he would tell me where it was for half of what I found. That was agreed to so the next day we met and he took me to a field by a small creek and I commenced to hunt it. He started to hunt for Arrow heads again and I went to swinging my coil hoping for another silver dollar the first hit was a 1882 Gold 5 Dollar coin I stared in disbelief my first gold coin and I would have to give him half. That was not going to happen
As it is in Kansas in July after a rain it gets very hot and I was swinging as fast as I could to cover more ground I was beat and left worrying how to share a 5 Dollar coin, after all I had agreed to half and keeping ones word is what I have learned to abide by.
The next day I was early at the site it was getting hot already There were a few coins found Indian heads, a seated half, and liberty head nickels, early Wheat's and I was getting overheated when a front came through with a cool breeze that could only come from heaven.
Then it happened a hit and 1880 $5 gold coin appeared in the dirt, my worries were over I gave my brother his half of the Gold coins and I kept the rest of the coins that I had found.
Later we determined that it was a picnic grove from a small town a half mile away that was 4 houses and a church away from being a Ghost Town . My brother still has the Silver Dollar he found and the $5 gold coin I gave him and I still have my first $5 Dollar gold coin
I only ever owned a White's product. I started in1970 in high school with my 1st machine and tried to "earn" my way up the detector ladder so to speak. The only problem I ever had was a coil that went bad and I got a replacement right away. Let me tell you a little story. I live in Northern NJ and before the interweb there used to be a little metal detector shop called Geoquest on Rt 46 in Saddle Brook NJ. It was owned by a guy named Harry and his wife Leola. His shop had metal detectors hanging all over the place on pegboards. He had piles of them on the floor. Harry was a servicing dealer for White's back in the day. Anyway Harry was a short round man that always wore a shirt that was at least one size too small and the button buttonholes were screaming for mercy! He had display cases crammed with finds from all the local treasure hunters and I was hooked in an instant! Well those things weren't cheap and I could not afford to buy one right away and so I used to go hang out there and see if I could "help" out and maybe learn something. Well after a couple of weeks of being a pain in the a** Harry told me to come in the back and he handed me a machine. It was blue and primer grey weighed like 50 lbs and he told me to get lost for a couple of weeks. I didn't know what to say I was really happy to have a chance at trying this cool new thing. Well back then not many people had metal detectors and the ones that I know lived near the beach. I lived in an old town, Hackensack NJ and it was ripe for the pickin. I just didn't know what the hell to do. My first time out at an old park I most of the time trying to figure out how to tune the machine. I think it had a red button sticking out of the end of the handle to pinpoint with but I'm not sure. I started finding coins, lot's of coins, SILVER COINS!!!!!! They were only worth face value back then or maybe a little more but I was happy. I was doing something nobody else was doing. By the end of the summer I had enough coins to cash in and almost buy a nice middle of the road Whites machine. Harry recommended a Whites machine because he was a servicing dealer and they were very reliable. Harry was a mad scientist! He used to repair down to the component level on the boards and had all kinds of test equipment in his "lab". He used to see common problems like resistors and potentiometers going bad but he actually found weak links in the circuits and changed components to a different value for a permanent fix. Harry taught me lot's of things but the thing that sticks in my head is persistence and education. And how to solder really good! Harry let me have a brand new White's detector and told me to pay for it a little every week when I could. Back then people were trusting and honorable. Your handshake was your contract and bond. I studied HVAC and became an industrial chiller service technician and did well in that trade for 20 years. After that amount of time I wanted to change careers and I became an HVAC instructor at the school I graduated from 20 years before. I actually replaced my retiring instructor and was very proud of myself. I always stopped by Geoquest at least twice a month and took care of Harry's heating and cooling needs for free. Back then that's what you did to payback your debts. Not the monetary ones, the ones that really count the kindness caring ones, the personal ones. Harry's health was failing. He had bypass surgery and was doing well for a few months. The next time I visited Geoquest I had some bagels with a smear of cream cheese for Harry and Leola and coffee. I walked in and Leola looked like she was tortured. She told me that we lost Harry. I thought he was really lost I didn't realize he had died or I just didn't want to believe it. I stayed there the rest of the day helping Leola try and organise the shop and keep her busy but eventually we sat and cried. Harry was gone and Leola had to close the shop. There just wasn't enough money in selling machines to support the bills without Harry. After the store closed I tried to stay in touch with Loela but we never really kept on after the store closed. Harry lived his life with passion. Something most of us will never even realise what passion is. I laid off metal detecting for awhile while raising a family and got back into it about 6 years ago. I bought a White's V3i. I wanted the top of the line and I could afford it, I still can't really operate it well! That same day I got the V I found a 14k mens wedding band in a park. Thank you Harry I miss you.
If you asked me about buttons two years ago I would have probably smiled and walked away. Put a Metal detector in anybodies hand (especially a Deus) and you dig lots of buttons...and If you take metal detecting seriously (like I now have) you are forced to take a good look at them. I am privileged to know people that own or have rights to big tracts of land. So when a client of mine told me last week of a place on his fathers property that was and old homestead I could not wait to go there. All that remains of the place is a small depression in the ground probably about 5 foot in diameter. This they tell me was the cellar. There is nothing else to indicate that this was once somebodies house. It's back in the sticks and has never seen a detector.The old man (now in his eighties) that took me up there is a walking book of local history. His fathers father bought the property from a Frenchman that was married to a Miwok Indian. So while the old man sat in his side by side and told story after story I turned on the XP Deus......and the place came alive with iron sounds. My first target was a wedding band marked W.L & Co The gold plating on the outside was worn down to the silver lining....which made me appreciate how easy we have it in our day and age. I detected there about 20 min and found the first button and several other targets ....but the old man had other ideas and wanted to show me another spot down the road which turned out to be a bust. I spent the next hour driving around with the old man in his Polaris while he told story after story...my only regret was not having a tape recorder as my memory has never been that great. I asked if I could come back and he said yes.... so yesterday In the pouring down rain I hiked up a very steep hill and detected for about 3 hours unhindered...and had a Blast.