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Gbonus uralias

Silver, Titanium And Wheat

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Hello all and happy Monday.

I was able to get out for the day yesterday and decided to tackle an area I have been researching in the local forest.

An old trail camp site with no car access. This place has a lot of history even before the Forest service took it over and made it a public camp. I hiked in and brought my X705 with the Elliptical coil - I should have brought my 6" DD for where i was at, but the Elliptical worked OK. I just focused on two sites with the 2 hours I had to hunt.

I was stoked to score my first piece of Silver - 1940 Merc. and then a nice 1955 Wheatie.


Kept going and what was ringing out like a solid Nickel, ended up being a nice Titanium ring!! 


Also lots of Pennies, Dimes and Nickels with most dating in the 60's and 70's.  


As I was hiking up and out of the Canyon, I came across this..



I was very happy on my drive home and I feel confident that I have found some virgin ground that I can go back to again. I want to back-pack in some time and spend the night for a real good hunt. that would be fun. 


Edited by Gbonus uralias
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Nice finds for just 2 hours of hunting.  I think you've located a good spot!  As has been noted many times here and elsewhere, people tend to take the easy route, and that includes metal detectorists in general (but not all, as you show).  The tougher a spot to reach, the more likely it's virgin.

Don't mean to be too nosey, but how are you cleaning your finds?  The ring looks to have a lot of scratches and the striations from 1 o'clock to 7 o'clock on the Lincoln plus the reflectivity of the high spots make me wonder if you're being a bit too rough.

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Well I guess cleaning with the scrub pad side of the kitchen sponge is the wrong thing? Haha still new at this I guess.

The ring was fairly clean as was the dime, so I take blame on the penny only.


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6 hours ago, Gbonus uralias said:

Well I guess cleaning with the scrub pad side of the kitchen sponge is the wrong thing? Haha still new at this I guess.

The ring was fairly clean as was the dime, so I take blame on the penny only.


I'm not an expert on cleaning finds.  But here are some points I try to abide by.  I encourage others to chime in on their principles and techniques.  (These are mainly for copper and copper-nickel alloys such as US nickel 5 cent pieces.   All my (few :sad:) silver finds look like the day it was dropped and your Merc appears to have been similar, but you still may need to get some mud off of them.

-1) The best way to avoid damaging a coin is to leave it alone.  But eventually someone (probably you) is going to have to figure out the date and mintmark.  Just err on the side of caution until you have those identified.

0) First goal is to find the date and mintmark without damaging the coin.

1) Abrasives are the enemy.  (Unnatural discoloration also, but pennies and nickels are already going to be discolored from being in the ground.)  Besides abrasives in the cleaning matereials, just the soil that coats/cakes the find is trouble.  So never rub the find in the field.

2) Water is a good solvent.  I like to add a bit of very mild detergent (caution: this may be bad advice).  I use a splash of car wash liquid which is less harsh than dishwashing liquid.

3) Time is generally your friend (more on that later).  Exception is when using acids, alkalis, and some solvents which I'm not going to even touch on here.  Maybe this should have been higher on the list....

4) Be careful of soaking unlike metals.  I don't know which work bad together but I avoid including iron and aluminum with coins (hey, sometimes objects made of these can be valuable) and try not to include Zincolns, which you can get very good at ID'ing right out of the ground because their fast loss of material while in the ground and their horrendous growths.  A Zincoln that's been in the ground makes a good wood file by itself (and that's about all it's worth).  Another way to separate zinc from copper is by mass or weight.  Copper pennies start out (new) at about 3.1 g.  Zincolns start out about 2.5 g and go down quickly once in the ground.

5) Remember rule 0 -- you don't need to clean the entire coin, just get to the date & mm.  When I was young I could read any date that wasn't eve remotely present with my naked eyes.  Now I need strong magnification and lots of bright light.  Something in the neighborhood of 10x power works well for me, but find your own optimal combination of size and power.  My favorite tool is a 50+ year old spark plug inspection light/magnifier I got from my uncle, but I don't even know if these are still made.

6) After the abrasives are soaked/flushed away from the date & mm areas, find those and then look up the values.  Here's a good website for that:  https://www.pcgs.com/prices/  Keep in mind that a) these are retail prices, and b) the value depends strongly on the grade.  Anything in the 60's (mint state) cannot be found in the ground and most finds will be in the low numbers.  But 35's and 40's are possible.  Figuring out the grade is a step unto itself that I won't go into.  But if the chart on this website doesn't show a value then either it's so rare (and valuable) that they don't have an established price (that would be nice!) or 99.99999% it just doesn't have numismatic value, in which case you're talking metal content value and personal pride/satisfaction/aesthetic value.  Another good place to look if this page shows value is Ebay prices realized, but that takes more searching.  Still, you'll also get a handle on the condition (grade) most of the time.

7) If your research up to this point shows the coin may have collector value, stop cleaning it and get expert help/opinion, e.g. coin dealer, and make sure it's one you trust.  ['Trust' meaning a) honest, and b) know what they are talking about.] This is like anything.  Just because someone works in (or even owns) a coin shop doesn't necessarily make him/her an expert.  The Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) https://png.memberclicks.net/find-a-png-dealer members are the ultimate in integrity (and at a minimum high up in expertise) but there aren't that many of them.  Getting multiple opinions is always a good idea, and beware of the first offer....

8) If you find the coin has no value you can do as you like, but if you want to make the coin presentable you might still want to keep going here.

9) (Learned this from posters SwampstomperAl and DeftTones).  Soak in olive oil for a LOOONNNNNGGGGGGG time (as in months).  See step 3 above.

10) Once the abrasives are gone (make sure!) you can use soft things like wood and your fingernail, but take it easy as you go.  These items can separate the attached chunks of contamination, but they don't always work.  And even soft things can cause microscopic damage which the experts will notice.  Don't assume that soft cotton (handkerchief, washcloth) won't damage.  Ever get lectured by your optomitrist/optician??)

11) I've read (here and elsewhere) of people using abrasives to clean pennies and nickels to make them look presentable and I'm not going to argue with that.  But just make sure the coin has minimal numismatic value before going that route, since it's irreversible.

12) Regarding the color, even for coins with no numismatic value, it's worth noting that a different than original color may actually enhance the appearance if it's naturally occurring.  This is particularly possible with copper coins.  Coins that have obviously been cleaned lose much of their appeal in the view of many.  And, again, unnatural colored surfaces are a huge detriment to a coin's value, assuming it's otherwise a collectible date&mm.

That was kinda long (typical for me).  Hope it's accurate and, again, I encourage others to chime in with their knowledge and techniques, especially if you see something I said which is wrong.



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Great post GB!

I used to be extremely careful with every coin I dug, treated them all like they might be worth a million bucks. The truth is most coins dug out of the ground are worth little more than the melt value. The 1940 dime is a perfect example. Worth maybe $1.40 in silver. The date and condition add no value. So what to do? I get out the silver polish and make them look pretty.

The main thing is to be careful until you start getting a handle on what the key dates and values are. There are unfortunately very few high value coins in the 1900s not made of gold. 1800s and earlier coins get automatic attention. Excerpt of 1900 coins from this key date listing:

Lincoln Cent 1909-S VDB, 1914-D, 1922-D Missing D Strong Reverse, 1955 Doubled Die Obverse

Liberty Head Nickel 1912-S

Indian Head (Buffalo) Nickel 1914/3, 1916 Doubled Die Obverse, 1918/7-D, 1926-S, 1935 Doubled Die Reverse, 1937-D 3 Legs

Jefferson Nickel 1942-D/Horizontal D

Winged Liberty (Mercury) Dime 1916-D, 1919-D, 1919-S, 1942/1, 1942/41-D

Roosevelt Dime 1968-S No S, 1975-S No S

Barber Quarter 1901-S, 1913-S

Standing Liberty Quarter 1916, 1918/7-S, 1927-S

Washington Quarter 1932-D, 1937 Doubled Die Obverse, 1950-D/S

Barber Half Dollar 1904-S

Walking Liberty Half Dollar 1919-D, 1921-D, 1921-S

Franklin Half Dollar 1953-S Full Strike

I won’t list the dollars because any silver dollar is a major find! The unfortunate other truth is that even if you find one of the key dates above, the condition will probably be such that there still is no real premium value involved besides being able to say you found a key date. A 1926 S nickel can be worth hundreds of dollars, but finding one that even rates as good condition would be extremely challenging. One in good condition is worth about $15. Good for a nickel for sure, but nothing you will retire on.

Long story short anything not on the list above minted in the 1900’s is probably not worth more than face or silver melt value.

Love the Mercs no matter the condition!

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You beat me to my follow-up question GB! :biggrin:

Thank you for the well written and detailed answer.

I must admit that I am still a bit of a gorilla when it comes to extracting targets and your points on potential coin values remind me of that. My cleaning and handling methods will be modified accordingly. Thank you. 

Most of the time I just drop the coin into my pouch and move on, looking at them more closely, later at home. But getting them into the pouch can be a little ugly and I need to work on my removal finesse and clean up.

What if that wheat was a 1955 Double D - and I scratched it and or gouged it with a digging tool??? I'd be a little P-O'd. 

I was considering a sonic cleaner.... yes? no? maybe?  


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I have an ultrasonic cleaner - fabulous for cleaning jewelry, not much use for coins.


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12 minutes ago, Steve Herschbach said:

Love the Mercs no matter the condition!

(Thanks for the compliment, Steve.)

Show me someone who doesn't like a Mercury dime and you're looking at someone with a missing spot in their artistic appreciation.  Among US copper/nickel/silver my favorites in regards to beauty are the Walking Liberty Halves and Morgan dollars, but all series that immediately precede the 'famous American' issues are quite attractive, IMO.

You've made a good list.  I'll add/comment on a few.

For the Merc series you mentioned the 1919 mintmarked which I'm not aware are scarce.  However both the 1921 (plain) and 1921-D are semi-keys, although nothing touches the 1916-D in that series.

Among the Walking Liberty halves, I'd include the 1916 plain and -S, the 1917-S on obverse, the two 1919's you didn't mention (plain and -S) and the 1921-S.  Just about anything in the first few years (say up through 1923) with a mintmark is tough.  1938-D is the only scarce issue of the later years, but I think a lot of those were salted away because their value doesn't match their low mintage.

You mention several die varieties, including overdates, and those tend to be in a class by themselves because they are rare to very rare -- something on the order of a few percent or less of all coins minted with that same date and mintmark.  A couple to add there are two Lincoln Memorials:  1972 double die and 1969-S double die.  The former (1972) has many minor variations of doubling and only the strong one, which rivals the 1955 in terms of attractiveness, is worth much (low 3 figures if condition is decent).  The latter double die (1969-S) is so rare it challenges the 1943 and 1944 off-metal strikes at the lofty peak of the value chart among Lincolns, as in 5 figures in the higher circulated states (e.g. EF-40).  Even finding one beat up in the ground is going to fetch someone enough to buy you an new detector (maybe not a Zed, though).  And the fame you'll get as a metal detectorist will be priceless.  From the bible on the subject of die varieties,


the estimated mintage is less than 35!  It is impossible to know the mintage of die varieties because not only aren't those records kept by the mint, but few (if any) mint employees ever know of their existance until an eagle-eyed coin collector finds the first one.  So there could be more than this out there.  (Imagine finding a bank roll of them.  Then you can retire to Palm Springs.  :biggrin:)


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Amazingly, Brandon ( Dr. Tones ) has pulled not one but two "newer" US coin rarities out of the dirt that he got very nice returns on: 1) 1914-D Lincoln wheat penny (multi-hundred $$s at the very least -- private sale so never stated); 2) 1901-S Barber quarter (big time rarity -- thousands for this one even in ground-found condition, actually YouTube vid on this..) He also scored a stater across the pond..


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