Searching for “Coin Spreads”- How to Pinpoint and Dig Them

Whites Dig Master Digging Tool

Whites Dig Master Digging Tool for recovering your metal detecting treasure finds.

Searching for old coins is exciting, but searching for “coin spreads” is even MORE exciting! What is a “coin spread?” Well, back in the day, it was very common for people to bury small caches of coins and other valuables in the ground. Burying coins was easier than trying to keep them safe inside a home, so former farmland is a hot commodity for cache hunting. People often forgot where to dig and/or forgot to retrieve their treasures.

“As real treasure finds go, a coin spread is one of the most realistic for anyone with a metal detector to make.” – Daniel Bernzweig of MetalDetector.com

In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, farmers and homestead owners buried their valuables inconspicuously in socks, Mason type glass jars or small wooden boxes. These containers decay over  time, leaving metal valuables intact and in the ground. During plowing season, coin sacks are brought closer to the surface. And over time, coin sacks break and the coins are spread across a small area of land. Sometimes, handfuls of coins are found altogether. If you stumble upon a coin spread, adjust your metal detector’s sensitivity to easily pick up coins.

Pinpointing and Digging a Coin Spread

Once you’ve pinpointed a small area where a coin spread is present, it’s time to dig up your treasure! The depth of your digging area should be no less than ten inches. Each few inches of soil should be carefully removed from your target area and examined for the presence of coins. Move slowly and carefully! If your metal detector has multiple search coils, use the smaller search coil. Adjust the sensitivity of the metal detector and scan every scoop of dirt. When you’ve dug deeply enough, stop for a few minutes to examine the “walls” that you’ve created by digging. A large piece of tarp comes in handy; you can spread your dirt on the tarp to better spot coins.

Methods for Digging up Coins

Every detectorist has their favorite method of digging. Just remember: it’s important to maintain the integrity of coins when digging (no scratching) all the while doing your best at leaving the ground as you first found it. That’s why there are tried and true methods for digging up coins.

  • The Plug Method: Use a small search coil to determine the approximate location of your target. After locating the target, take note of the depth and cut a square block of soil. Lift under your target so you can recover it. A tool with a serrated edge, like the Lesche digging tool makes this work easy. After you’ve located it, replace your block of soil so it’s restored to its former appearance.
  • Alternate Plug: Dig up a half-circle, a “v”-shape, or cone-shaped hole.
  • Use a Handheld Pinpointer Probe: Experienced detectorists often use a pinpointer to locate their target. After determining your best search location, use a handheld probe to search the hole or continue digging until you find the target. You can also search the flap area for the coin if it is not visible.

Necessary Tools for Coin Retrieval

Here are a few of our favorite tools for pinpointing and digging up coin spreads:

Metal Detector Pinpointers and Probes

Makro Pointer Waterproof Pinpointer

Garrett Pro-Pointer II Pinpointing Metal Detector

Garrett Pro-Pointer AT Waterproof Pinpointer

Whites TRX Pinpointer

XP MI-6 Pinpointer

Metal Detecting Trowels and Digging Tools

Whites Dig Master Tool

Garrett Edge Digger with Sheath

Pro Digging Trowel

Saw Tooth Pro Digging Trowel

Fisher Teknetics Ultimate Recovery Tool

Digging Deep for Hidden Treasure- What are the Advantages?

Detech Chaser Metal Detector

The Detech Chaser Metal Detector, a great unit for deep coin hunting.

Using a metal detector is a science in itself—particularly, discerning  its individual beeps and tones. Once you have mastered your detector, you can focus on how deep you are finding targets. Some hobbyists only focus on targets that are buried 2-5″ deep. Others swear that their best targets are buried much deeper. Civil War relic hunters often talk about great finds buried 10″ and more underground. If you are looking to find better treasures, you may consider a detector that is built to find deeper targets, such as the Teknetics T2, Fisher F75. or Detech Chaser. One well-known treasure hunter who makes videos, “Aquachigger,” always digs deep holes while searching 1800’s homes- finding “Seated Liberty” quarters, Indianhead pennies, muskets, belt buckles and buttons.

Listening to Your Signals

The textbook coin signal is “round”. What this means is that for coins laying flat, the signal has the same characteristics no matter what angle you scan it. As you walk around the target while swinging the coil back and forth, a coin sound will be smooth and repeatable. If it beeps for half an inch one way, the “round” signal will beep for half an inch every other way. Oversized objects (like pop or beer cans), may give loud signals from one angle, but no signal from another.

Get the Most Depth Out of Your Detector

Here are expert tips to get the best depth out of your metal detector:

  1. Turn up the Sensitivity.  You can find the optimal setting for the particular conditions you’re using, but you’ll have to fine-tune it.
  2. Adjust the Ground Balance to be neutral or slightly negative. If your ground balance is positive, it’s easy to overlook a lot of stuff.

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Whites Bullseye TRX Pinpointer – Save Hours in the Field!

Whites Bullseye TRX Pinpointer made by Whiles Metal Detectors

Whites Bullseye TRX Pinpointer made by Whiles Metal Detectors

For locating treasure in the hole 10x faster, rely on Whites Bullseye TRX Pinpointer! Like a miniature metal detector, this unit fits easily into any digging hole to precisely locate treasure you have targeted. Whites Bullseye TRX is waterproof up to 10 feet and is completely automatic (no tuning needed). Features include: LED light, audio/vibrate alert, auto “power off,” lost pinpointer alarm and much more! Loyal Bullseye TRX owners say this pinpointer beats the competition because of its tip detection and ground balance “ratchet,” which instantly zero in on your target. According to Ashtro in NC, “Where it is pointed is where your target will be. With tip detection, the Bullseye TRX is the best bang for your buck!”

 

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See all models of Whites Metal Detectors

Coins, Coins…They’re Everywhere! Here’s How You Can Find Them

MetalDetector.com customer Rick of Dimondale, MI found not one but two 1942 walking liberty half dollar's and in the same hole!

MetalDetector.com customer Rick of Dimondale, MI found not one but two 1942 walking liberty half dollar’s and in the same hole!

For coin-hunting buffs and newer treasure hunters, there is no greater rush than digging up a valuable old coin. Millions of coins worth untold sums are just waiting to be recovered by a hobbyist with a metal detector. So, if you are armed with a metal detector and a bit of enthusiasm, there’s a good chance you’ll unearth a wealth in coins! Some will be clad coins: modern coins with an inner core of copper and outer layers of nickel-copper alloy. But, there are older coins underfoot which are much more valuable and dated. These include: Indianhead and Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, Barber dimes, Liberty and Washington quarters, Liberty-walking half dollars and many other types of silver coins. Older silver coins are made of near pure silver, not alloy.

Lost & Buried Gold Coins are a Hot Commodity!

Believe it or not, U.S. gold coins are still found by hobbyists today! The first gold coins issued by the United States Mint started circulating in 1795. From 1838 to 1907, $20 Liberty Head gold coins were minted; followed by $20 Saint Gauden gold coins from 1907 to 1933. These, and other ancient foreign coins are unearthed by coin shooters. Experts say that a dedicated coin hunter can recover from a handful to over a 100 coins on any given weekend. Basic clad coins at “face value” can easily be cashed in at a Coin Star machine. But more importantly, older coins are worth several times their face value. As seasoned hobbyists say, “A single coin can be worth thousands of dollars. But, even a few weekend’s worth of coin shooting can pay for your metal detector.”

Digging Tools Needed for Coin Shooting

When you are setting out to dig up coins, it’s important to figure out which tools you will need. There’s no sense dragging a shovel if you won’t need it. The type of digging tool(s) you’ll need really depends on your soil conditions and the depth of coins. Some areas only require a probe and a screwdriver. But in tough terrain, you may need a small hand shovel or a serrated digger. Serrated diggers, like the Lesche Digging Tool and the Garrett Edge Digger are often a lifesaver when it comes to coin shooting. They are made of high-quality steel for strength and durability; and their serrated edges cut through weeds and brush. Both diggers also come with a sheath that hangs from a belt on your waist.

How to Skillfully Dig Up Coins

When digging up a coin, try not to stick your bare hand into the hole to feel around. Your target may turn out to be a piece of jagged metal. Instead, wear gloves and use your digging tool to bring the soil and target to the surface. Most detectorists like to use the “flap” method to dig up a coin. Using a trowel, cut out three sides of a square into the grass, digging about 3 or 4 inches deep. Then, you use your digging tool to lift the flap up and expose the hole. This leaves one side of the square attached to the rest of the grass, so some of the roots remain intact. This leaves less visible damage and the grass will grow back easily. At this point, you can sift through the soil until you spot your target. Or, as many seasoned hobbyists suggest: a handheld pinpointer makes easy work of finding a coin. Pinpointers, such as the Garrett Pro-Pointer AT and Makro Pointer can be used inside your hole to locate the target or when searching through mounds of dirt you’ve already dug. Upon recovering a coin, do not rub the coin between your fingers. Most soils contain a lot of sand and silica which will scratch the surface. Lastly, be sure to go over the area again with your detector. Some coins are part of a “pocket spill” and it may just be your lucky day!

Got a great “coin find” story to share? Be sure to post your story and a photo of your find on “My Metal Detector Finds.” Here, you can read about amazing finds posted by everyday detectorists. The stories are fascinating and they’ll inspire you to get out treasure hunting!

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Metal Detecting Diggers, Pinpointers and Headphones

Having that extra accessory item to go along with your new metal detector can make a big difference in your overall success.

Having that extra accessory item to go along with your new metal detector can make a big difference in your overall success.

If you’ve just purchased or received your first metal detector during the holiday season: Congratulations! You are about to embark upon the most exciting hobby of your life! The first order of business is to read over your owner’s manual and detect a little bit in your own yard. Secondly, you should consider what other equipment you may need to make your detecting adventures easier and more successful.

Although most accessories are optional, there are definitely tools that make this hobby more enjoyable. Among them, you will need some kind of digger to retrieve your finds. Some detectorists use diggers as simple as a screwdriver or small gardening tool, but when you are recovering deep treasures in rough turf, you may need a full-sized detecting shovel. Hand-held pinpointers make finding coins and relics a lot faster. Most detectors have a pinpoint mode, but the hand-held units fit easily inside the hole as you dig, making for speedy target retrieval. Headphones not only save on your battery power, but they allow you to  hear faint signals—which is really important!

Metal Detecting Pinpointers

A small pinpointing probe is one of the most useful pieces of  equipment that you can carry. Pinpointers are little detectors in themselves; and their job is  to check the inside of your hole to precisely locate the target you are digging. Metal detecting pinpointers save you time and  frustration, along with objects that you would otherwise lose. You’ll hear stories from other detectorists about targets they couldn’t find after extensive searching and why they never leave home without a pinpointer. The Garrett Pro-Pinpointer II and Garrett Pro-Pointer AT are excellent models as well as the Makro Pointer and White’s Bullseye TRX.

Hand-Held Diggers and Shovels

You really can’t do without some type of a digger when metal detecting. Remember—holes need to be dug conspicuously and thoroughly covered up afterwards. This is especially true when digging on private property! Detectorists are always worried about fellow hobbyists ruining the future of detecting by leaving messes and holes behind. Diggers come in many shapes and sizes, from  small hand trowels to industrial garden spades. They are normally made of stainless steel, either with the head welded to the shaft or made all in one. It’s important to use a sharp implement that will do the job and will not leave you with an unwieldy hole…The ideal size for the blade is about 4 inches across, and about 5-6 inches high. Among the most popular diggers is the Lesche digger with a serrated edge—it is designed to easily cut through roots and tough ground conditions.

metal detecting headphones

hobbyists and professional metal detectorists alike choose to have a quality pair of metal detecting headphones.

Detecting Headphones

Headphones should always be used as they enable you  to hear the faint signals; not just the obvious loud ones. Detecting without headphones in public areas may disturb other people and draw attention to yourself. There are many high-quality detecting headphones on the market, and they are very affordable. Experts recommend buying the best pair you can afford without  breaking the bank. You’ll find a variety of metal detecting headphones at all different price points.

Belt Pouches and Kneepads

A pouch that has a few different compartments is very handy as you don’t want your good finds mixed up with junk targets. Hobbyists often say they keep coins in one pocket, relics and other items in the other and tools in the third pocket.  Also, a few small plastic bags are useful for smaller, valuable finds. Many detectorists recommend kneepads for kneeling down on rocky or rough ground. It really depends on your digging style, and you’ll discover what works best for you as you get into the hobby!

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What are the Best Metal Detector Pinpointers?

What are the Best Digging Trowels and Shovels for Metal Detecting?

Choosing a Metal Detector Headphone

Using an Electronic Metal Detector Pinpointer

Pictured above is the Garrett Pro-Pointer.

Pictured above is the Garrett Pro-Pointer. One of the most popular units and as seen on TV in episodes of “Diggers” on the National Geographic Channel.

Whether your metal detector has a built in pinpointer feature or not, we highly advise you to carry a hand held, electronic pinpointer with you on all of your metal detecting excursions as well. Here’s why –

1. Hand held pinpointers are easier to use than the pinpointer on your metal detector while you’re actively digging up a target.

2. They also zero in on a more direct target area than your machine even when using the smallest search coil to help decrease your target retrieval time.

3. An electronic pinpointer will decrease your digging time too; something every metal detectorist is always hoping for!

4. Using a hand held pinpointer helps make unearthing your treasures safer. The more you know about where the treasure is, the less likely you are to nick, scratch or otherwise damage it.

5. And, metal detecting is less taxing to the land you’re metal detecting when you use an electronic pinpointer. The more precise you can be the less you have to dig.

There are a variety of different types of metal detecting pinpointers to choose from. To find the best hand held pinpointer, consider where you do most of your metal detecting. If you like to go near the water, you’ll want a water resistant device, if you’re out hunting for gold you may want a more rugged pinpointer. From here, you’ll want to consider size, depth rating, and other more specialized features like these. For more on how to find the right pinpointer to meet your needs, please read our article “What are the Best Metal Detector Pinpointers” as well as these other related articles:

Metal Detecting Accessories and Necessities

Digging Etiquette and The Best Tools for Target Retrieval

Pinpointer Metal Detectors: the Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

Michael Bernzweig of MetalDetector.com said "Now is the time to pick out the perfect stocking stuffer during our annual Thanksgiving metal detectors sale which is now on." He went on to say "a pinpointer metal detector like the Garrett Pro-Pointer or the Makro-Pointer make the perfect gift idea for anyone on your 2014 holiday shopping list."

Michael Bernzweig of MetalDetector.com said "Now is the time to pick out the perfect stocking stuffer during our annual Thanksgiving metal detectors sale which is now on." He went on to say "a pinpointer metal detector like the Garrett Pro-Pointer or the Makro-Pointer make the perfect gift idea for anyone on your 2014 holiday shopping list."

The holidays are approaching and before you know it, bells will be ringing, mistletoe will be hanging in doorways and malls will be packed. For “think-ahead” shoppers, we’ve got savvy stocking stuffer ideas as gifts for the man or woman in your life. If your husband, wife or relative enjoys metal detecting, gift giving should be easy. There is one gift that fits perfectly into a Christmas stocking… It’s a metal detector pinpointer! Pinpointers are extremely handy in the field; they pinpoint treasure so you don’t end up digging aimlessly. Once a metal detector signals and the detectorist digs a small hole, a pinpointer is placed into the hole to determine the target’s exact location.

Pinpointer metal detectors typically range in price from $60—$150, with popular models at about $125. The latest handheld pinpointers are more durable and feature advanced circuitry. The Makro Pointer is brand new—just hit shelves November, 2015. It’s a fully waterproof hand-held pinpointer with a LED flashlight and 360 degree detection tip. That means the detection tip locates targets in every direction. This new model will help you pinpoint coins sized objects. As an added bonus it can also find gold nuggets as small as 1/10th of a gram with ease. The most popular hand-held pinpointer on the market is the Garrett Pro-Pointer. It features easy one button operation—immediately alerting the user to the target. At the low end price-wise is the ever popular Fisher and Bounty Hunter Pinpointers. This is a must-have in many hobbyists’ toolbox. For more on metal detecting pinpointers, check out: What are the Best Metal Detector Pinpointers?

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Great news, our Thanksgiving Metal Detectors Sale and Deals are now available!

Learning article: “What Metal Detector Accessories Should I Start With?