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Quest For Silver

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It should be an easy goal really.  I made it a personal challenge within the first 10 minutes of swinging my coil at an elementary school in an old neighborhood of my hometown, built in the 1930's.  With my kids playing in the bark chips, I powered up my Etrac, and dug my first wheatie within the first 10 feet of starting.  I said to myself... "self, you will find a silver coin here".  That was in May.  Since then, I have stopped by this location at least a half dozen times, usually when time was too short to fight traffic and drive into Portland OR to hunt the old parks and schools there.  My hunts at this school have been under two hours each time... but still plenty of time to use a methodically test several areas of the plot.  I have used my Etrac, Explorer SE Pro, CTX and briefly, my ATX.  

My first visit, I found 4 wheats and a couple dollars in clad quarters along with an equal amount in other clad.  Most of my recoveries were less than 6".  Clad showing up in the 2-4" range, and the wheats in the 4-6" range.  All the earmarks of a site that hasn't been overly pounded in recent years, and still giving up old coins.  There is a fair amount of trash and iron in the ground, I found myself digging plenty of can slaw and pop tops, pencil erasers and rusty nails, bits of chain link fence and other undesirables... but I was able to isolate enough high tones to keep my interest.

So, I started my research.  I found that the existing school structure was built in the mid-90's and is positioned on the opposite side of the plot from where the original school structure was built and stood in the 30's.  Sadly, much of the prime playground was now covered by the new building, parking lots, asphalt playgrounds and basketball courts, as is the case for many old school grounds.  In the illustration below, you can see where the old school buildings stood (blue blocks in the lower right of the picture).  Armed with this new knowledge, it made sense that I pulled several wheats from the area just off the edge of the playground on the left side... that ground existed from the time the original school was built.  I have placed yellow dots to indicate the general area I found my original 4 wheats and a few additional wheats during subsequent trips.  During my second trip, I also found an aluminum tax token from Washington State (shown in red), and I was convinced I was digging a silver coin... high tone, 6+ inches... silver in the hole... Aluminum.  Not unhappy about that find... more proof that this site is dated and this target was a solid 2 way tone in 4 directions... so it gave me comfort that those that came before me, left a few goodies behind for me.  In one of my follow up trips, the clad finds diminished, but I did find a silver ring in the area used as a youth soccer field.

But in these several hunts, maybe 5 or 6 hours swing time... no silver coins.

Last night, I spent about 1.5 hours coming in from the opposite side of the field (where the old school previously stood), and my Etrac was nulling all over the place.  It was expected... I'm sure that was a lot of fill dirt and loaded with bits of iron from the demo.  But surprisingly, I recovered a 1930 wheat and another tax token just below the basketball court, in an area that should have been previously covered by the old building... so my guess is that it was dirt moved into that area during the demo and it happened to contain a few old targets.  But again, no silver coins.

I post this, for two reasons... to share my misery (and hopefully ultimate celebration) of my thus far futile attempts to find just one silver coin in this old ground.  I won't be able to give up on it until I do... which could be a long long road ;).  And second, to see if anybody has any tips looking at the pic and positioning of the buildings (old and new) as to where you would focus your hunts..  Obviously, a lot of my time has been spent gridding the small area where the majority of the yellow dots are... not to say I won't be re-gridding that area (which I plan to do with the ATX after reading the other forum thread which also included the Tom D. Behind the Mask article link.) in hopes to clean out anything that may be masking a nice target.  It has become my obsession.  LOL.

This site has to have silver, and I am going to find it. :)

Happy Hunting to all.  Tim.

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I had a near by school I used to hunt because it was good for when I didn't have time to venture out further.. It was very frustrating.. I found over 30 wheats, before I finally scored a rosy out front near the street.. I later found a real deep merc dime several hunts ( and wheat cents) later.. All I can figure is that it was cherry picked for silver many years ago... As for those Washington tax tokens! I live in Washington and I have learned to hate those things.  Most times they will ring up as a quarter on my E-Trac.. I was hunting a very old park earlier this year and hit that beatiful, perfect, deeeep tone 8-10"down.. I very carefully dig down to unearth my Standing Liberty/Barber Quarter and out pops a Washington Tax token!!  20 minutes later I do the exact same thing! Mental Torture...    Your entire school yard is worth detecting but I would probably hit those trees between the old school location and the very bottom left corner near the houses.  Especially if those are old houses.  Out front along the street too..  Good luck.. there's a silver coin out there somewhere..

Bryan

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Great post! I got my start detecting silver way, way back in the day. Then I transitioned to gold detecting and coin detecting sort of fell by the wayside. Even when not nugget detecting my time in town tends to get spent looking more for jewelry than coins. A big reason for that is I prefer not to plug (dig deep holes) in parks and other public places. Popping shallow targets with a screwdriver looking for a ring is easier and less damaging politically - and one ring makes up for a lot of coins!

However, I have been doing a great deal of metal detector testing the last couple years in Reno, and the easiest way in general to do that is to just go hit the parks detecting for deep coins. I like trying to find borderline “iffy” targets still in the ground to compare detectors on. It is very difficult to see any real edge on one detector versus another on 98% of the targets I find. Long story short it is a great learning experience but it has also eased me back into coin detecting. I have always enjoyed finding silver dimes in particular, especially Mercury dimes. It has been a very long time - like a couple decades - since I have dug silver in earnest. I am getting back into it now though and so I hope to have more finds to post here in the future.

The problem of course is trying to find places where there is any silver left after decades of heavy detecting. Unfortunately so far I have been too chicken to do the knock on doors and ask permission thing, so just eking out a missed coin here and there out of the standard public areas will have to serve for now. The key there is just like a lot of detecting - patience and lots of hours.

Anyway, best of luck to you in your search for silver!

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44 minutes ago, Cabin Fever said:

I had a near by school I used to hunt because it was good for when I didn't have time to venture out further.. It was very frustrating.. I found over 30 wheats, before I finally scored a rosy out front near the street.. I later found a real deep merc dime several hunts ( and wheat cents) later.. All I can figure is that it was cherry picked for silver many years ago... As for those Washington tax tokens! I live in Washington and I have learned to hate those things.  Most times they will ring up as a quarter on my E-Trac.. I was hunting a very old park earlier this year and hit that beatiful, perfect, deeeep tone 8-10"down.. I very carefully dig down to unearth my Standing Liberty/Barber Quarter and out pops a Washington Tax token!!  20 minutes later I do the exact same thing! Mental Torture...    Your entire school yard is worth detecting but I would probably hit those trees between the old school location and the very bottom left corner near the houses.  Especially if those are old houses.  Out front along the street too..  Good luck.. there's a silver coin out there somewhere..

Bryan

Ugh! yes those tax tokens sound sooooo goooood at depth!!!  Thanks for the suggestions and well wishes Bryan!  Tim.

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8 minutes ago, Steve Herschbach said:

Great post! I got my start detecting silver way, way back in the day. Then I transitioned to gold detecting and coin detecting sort of fell by the wayside. Even when not nugget detecting my time in town tends to get spent looking more for jewelry than coins. A big reason for that is I prefer not to plug (dig deep holes) in parks and other public places. Popping shallow targets with a screwdriver looking for a ring is easier and less damaging politically - and one ring makes up for a lot of coins!

However, I have been doing a great deal of metal detector testing the last couple years in Reno, and the easiest way in general to do that is to just go hit the parks detecting for deep coins. I like trying to find borderline “iffy” targets still in the ground to compare detectors on. It is very difficult to see any real edge on one detector versus another on 98% of the targets I find. Long story short it is a great learning experience but it has also eased me back into coin detecting. I have always enjoyed finding silver dimes in particular, especially Mercury dimes. It has been a very long time - like a couple decades - since I have dug silver in earnest. I am getting back into it now though and so I hope to have more finds to post here in the future.

The problem of course is trying to find places where there is any silver left after decades of heavy detecting. Unfortunately so far I have been too chicken to do the knock on doors and ask permission thing, so just eking out a missed coin here and there out of the standard public areas will have to serve for now. The key there is just like a lot of detecting - patience and lots of hours.

Anyway, best of luck to you in your search for silver!

Thanks Steve, great comments as always.  I do have other sites I go to, and while I'm not exactly raking in the silver, I have found a few "leftovers" here and there... I'm with you... something about those mercury dimes!!  Of course, if I am ever lucky enough to uncover a seated... I might change my tune a little  ;).  This site though, has thrown down the gauntlet and I am refusing to let it be my Waterloo. lol. 

When I am not coming to blows with this schoolyard...  I am working to hone my research and hunting skills to do exactly what you outlined above.  I am trying to focus my future detecting on "renewable" targets.  As you mentioned, one piece of gold is worth the best day of silver coin hunting in $$.  I also agree with your comments about digging deep plugs and try to be judicious in my deep hole digs.  I am also hoping to get past my fear of door knocking... good to know it isn't only me :).  Tim.

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Excellent post, Tim.  This sounds very much like a site I've been hunting this summer (and maybe again this weekend) -- new school built in the early 90's to replace a much older one (don't know how old...).  I've found a few Wheats and one Merc.

Here are my impressions of your site:

1) Finding Wheats is a great marker, IMO.  I can't imagine many detectorists who refuse to dig copper coins but then have the ability to instead select silver dimes.  The ID's are so close (on my detectors anyway) that trying to distinguish would seem to be hopeless.  Thus I think you should find silver dimes where you're finding wheats.  There just aren't as many of them.  This summer at various sites I've found about 40 Wheats and five silver dimes -- that's an 8::1 ratio in this small sample.  So just continuing to go over that area which has produced wheats could produce more goodies.

2) Again, from my experience at the site mentioned above, the street sides of the location of the old school are where I've found most of my oldies.  In my case there was less excavation/backfill done there.  Any old indicators (old trees, old sidewalks, etc.) are good places to search.  Another 'trick' is to look for uneven ground (especially sloped) where water has caused some erosion.  This can expose deeper old ground and even turn some buried coins into surface coins.  I can't tell from the photo how flat the area you are searching is.

3) I like Cabin Fever's recommendation of searching near those houses.  That is far away from both the new school and the old school, possibly meaning there wasn't much excavation done there when they tore down the old school and built the new one.  I agree with you that sometimes backfill brings in old stuff, but more often than not it adds too much baren overburden to good ground making the old stuff way too deep for detection.

Good fortune in your next hunt(s) there.  Don't discount the wheaties (there may be some scarce dates+mintmarks among them!) and hope you find some silver.

 

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My thoughts on this.............

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.41.16 PM.png

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1 hour ago, GB_Amateur said:

Excellent post, Tim.  This sounds very much like a site I've been hunting this summer (and maybe again this weekend) -- new school built in the early 90's to replace a much older one (don't know how old...).  I've found a few Wheats and one Merc.

Here are my impressions of your site:

1) Finding Wheats is a great marker, IMO.  I can't imagine many detectorists who refuse to dig copper coins but then have the ability to instead select silver dimes.  The ID's are so close (on my detectors anyway) that trying to distinguish would seem to be hopeless.  Thus I think you should find silver dimes where you're finding wheats.  There just aren't as many of them.  This summer at various sites I've found about 40 Wheats and five silver dimes -- that's an 8::1 ratio in this small sample.  So just continuing to go over that area which has produced wheats could produce more goodies.

2) Again, from my experience at the site mentioned above, the street sides of the location of the old school are where I've found most of my oldies.  In my case there was less excavation/backfill done there.  Any old indicators (old trees, old sidewalks, etc.) are good places to search.  Another 'trick' is to look for uneven ground (especially sloped) where water has caused some erosion.  This can expose deeper old ground and even turn some buried coins into surface coins.  I can't tell from the photo how flat the area you are searching is.

3) I like Cabin Fever's recommendation of searching near those houses.  That is far away from both the new school and the old school, possibly meaning there wasn't much excavation done there when they tore down the old school and built the new one.  I agree with you that sometimes backfill brings in old stuff, but more often than not it adds too much baren overburden to good ground making the old stuff way too deep for detection.

Good fortune in your next hunt(s) there.  Don't discount the wheaties (there may be some scarce dates+mintmarks among them!) and hope you find some silver.

 

Good stuff GBA!  Some great stuff to keep in mind the next time (s) I am there.  

1)  well, I have found 7 wheats, so one more and I will expect the silver coin to be next bases on your 8:1 ratio ;).

2)  interestingly enough, the area running diagonally, in line with the wheat and token I found last night in front of the two big trees, is all sloped down to the asphalt playground... so your comment about erosion unvovering deeper targets makes sense!

I did test that lower right corner by the houses a bit last night and on a previous hunt, but will give it a harder look next time out.  Similar comment to the curbside..I tested one curb area, but will focus a full hunt on the perimeter soon.   

Thanks to all for taking the time to thoughtfully resoond!!

 

Tim

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48 minutes ago, johnedoe said:

My thoughts on this.............

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.41.16 PM.png

JD, it is funny you say that... as I was plotting the old school against the current map, that area stood out to me as well.  I think you are exactly correct about that being the old entrance and should have had a lot of traffic over the years!.  

I am excited to get back out there! 

Tim.

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You could go to google earth pro and look at historical images. This might give you a better representative where to look. I am not sure if the regular google earth has this feature.

image.thumb.png.ca9c3058ca89447cf504d3dc365c1daf.png

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