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.

Related Articles:

 

Amateur Hobbyists Really CAN Get Lucky… Start Detecting and Enjoy Beginner’s Luck!

Coin found metal detecting.

What a great coin Logan found with some luck and his uncles metal detector.

Recently, a Green Bay, Wisconsin teen found the treasure of a lifetime at a local beach. It was 13-year-old Logan Williams’ first ever treasure-hunting trip! He stumbled upon a Large Cent, wreath variety, minted in 1793. This was the first coin mass-produced by the U.S. Mint and its composition is pure copper.

According to Logan, “I borrowed my Uncle Mark’s metal detector and my friends and I took it down to ‘Fat Ladies Beach’ (Tourist Park). After searching for about 30 minutes, I got a good, strong signal. I dug down a few inches and found a coin. It looked pretty interesting. At first, I thought it was a token or something. I’d never seen a coin like it before, but I knew that it was old.”

The seventh grader, on spring break, never thought he would come across a rare 16th century copper coin. Curious about the coin, Logan and his mom took it to “Card and Coin-Packer City Antiques.” Owner Mike Worachek was amazed. He said in good condition, this coin lists at around $3,000. He recommended that the teen “send it in to get graded, especially for a coin of that value. The company will secure it in an air-tight, sealed holder.”

At first Logan thought about selling the coin to purchase video games, but instead decided to take Worachek’s advice. Logan said he’ll continue to hunt for treasure, but plans to buy his own metal detector. It just goes to show that there IS such thing as “beginner’s luck!” Get out and hunt, so you can tell your own exciting treasure-hunting story!

Find a Beginner’s Metal Detector at MetalDetector.com’s Summer Sale!

Detect Private Property (With Permission) for Extraordinary Finds!

A Story Button from the 1800's to early 1900's

A Story Button from the 1800’s to early 1900’s

The reason why many detectorists seek out private property is because it is pristine land for treasure hunting. Beaches and parks are detected every day, but private property is virgin territory- never hunted before. This is a chance for you to find TRUE treasure and get your hooks into valuable finds!

Homesteads Dating Back to the 1700’s and 1800’s

If you check out YouTube videos posted by “Hooked on History,” you’ll see several detectorists unearthing amazing finds. They all talk about old private property and ask permission to hunt these areas. Typically, these are old homesteads in the rural Midwest dating back to the 1700’s and 1800’s. Most of the homes are no longer standing, but they have markers indicating where outhouses, dump sites and building foundations existed. In one video, “Treasure in the Ground Metal Detecting Private Property 2017,” father and son hobbyists were thrilled with their discoveries!

Finds on Private Property

The treasure-hunting duo from “Treasure in the Ground” found exceptional treasures. They hunted a house formerly standing in the late 1700’s and another former homestead from the late 1800’s. Finds included: foreign coins, a pewter spoon, a clock face piece with Roman numerals, a 1941 Mercury silver dime, and a 1943- S silver Washington quarter. It pays to ask permission!

Interested in Coin-Hunting Metal Detectors? Here are Our Recommendations:

Entry-Level Coin Detectors:

Fisher F4

Garrett Ace 200

Tesoro Mojave

Whites CoinMaster

Mid-Level Coin Detectors:

Garrett AT Pro

Bounty Hunter Platinum

Fisher F70 with 11″ + 5″ DD Search Coils

High-End Coin Detectors

XP Deus

Whites Spectra VX3

10 Best Spots to Find Treasure at Your Local Park!

Marcus found this 1754 1/2 Reale coin near older trees while metal detecting in a local park.

Marcus found this 1754 1/2 Reale coin near older trees while metal detecting in a local park.

The local park is usually the FIRST place hobbyists start detecting, and parks can be very lucrative when it comes to metal detecting. Finding treasure in your own neighborhood—right down the street—is exciting because this is the history of your city. Amazingly, people have found some of their best treasures at the park—including YouTuber “Mark D.”, who hunts with his Garrett AT Pro, and found a diamond and ruby brooch in Denver, CO. He also got an “80” signal on his detector, which was a copper memorial, right next to a Mercury dime. Mark uses his Garrett Pro-Pointer to pinpoint targets, after getting a signal from his detector.

Some people say that popular area’s in parks are “hunted out” after years of metal detecting, but don’t be deterred. Experts say if you follow a few valuable tips, you will most certainly be successful hunting your favorite local park!

Hunt These Areas at Your Local Park

  1. Outer Edges of the Park: Older coins are often found at the outer edges of the park. Why? Grass is usually only mowed in the modern sections of the park. However, people also frequented the outer edges of the park many years ago. This is where lost coins and jewelry are lying.
  2. Under Large Trees: There are always treasures around park trees, especially where the shade is. Hunt the shady side of trees that are near volleyball courts, baseball diamonds and activity areas.
  3. Volleyball Courts: You will find lots of jewelry and coins in the sand of a volleyball court. Players use suntan lotion, which loosens rings; while other jewelry can simply fall off.
  4. Park Pools: It’s always a “given” that people lose jewelry and coins around the pool. They take off watches and necklaces and inadvertently leave them behind.
  5. Picnic Areas: Groups of people leave all sorts of things where they lay down blankets in the summertime. “Music in the Park” is a festive evening activity, where coins and valuables are later discovered.
  6. Ball Fields: Especially if they are old fields where games were played many years ago. Spectators dropped old coins, possibly from a century ago!
  7. Gazebos: This is the site of group photos, including wedding and graduation photos. Where there are people, there are lost valuables.
  8. Play Areas: Perhaps the most obvious search spots are the playgrounds, or tot lots at the park. It’s mostly the parents losing items here, such as rings and coins.
  9. Dirt Piles: Don’t pass up these areas where trail repair projects or construction is happening. Old dirt equals easy finds!
  10. Grass by the Parking Lot: Search the grassy area leading to the parking lot. This is where people are digging for their car keys, while other things (including coins) fall out of their pockets.

Related Article – Best Metal Detectors for Finding Coins and Jewelry.

Metal Detecting Old Farm Land for Lost Treasure

Bruce Lilienthal, hit the jackpot. He found a large, unusual rock on his Minnesota farmland.

Bruce Lilienthal, hit the jackpot. He found a large, unusual rock on his Minnesota farmland.

Metal detecting at pre-existing homesteads and old farmhouses is a GREAT tactic because old relics and coins lie here. What can you expect to find when you detect and dig an old farmland? Arrowheads, pottery shards, buttons, porcelain and metal thimbles, bits of colored glass and old ammunition or bullets. In 2013, amateur detectorist and producer, Bruce Lilienthal, hit the jackpot when he found a large, unusual rock on his Minnesota farmland. After testing and researching, he and his wife learned that it was a meteorite. They sold the rock for a modest $10.5 million!  It pays to search farmland, for MANY different reasons.

Scout Out Large Trees around a Homestead’s Foundation

Farm “markers” are indicators that a farm pre-existed; they often include large trees. These trees have grown very large because nobody has cut them  down. Always watch out for these markers because a favorable hunt site exists nearby. When you do find a “marker tree,” detect the area that immediately surrounds it. There are likely buried coins and relics hidden in the dirt! It was a common practice for people of past centuries to bury hoards of coins and valuables near marker trees. People intended to reclaim their possessions, but it often never happened. Now’s your chance to recover these precious items with your metal detector!

Sell Your Finds! Know the Value of Your Treasure

Sell Your Treasure Finds for Top Dollar! Learn How Now.

Sell Your Treasure Finds for Top Dollar! Learn How Now.

The amazing thing about metal detecting is that you can take this hobby into so many different directions. Whether you’re a land or water hunter, your treasure finds are all valuable. What you do with your treasure finds is entirely up to YOU. Some hobbyists drop all of their coins into a big jug to save for their next vacation. Others display collections of old coins, jewelry and relics in their home. Relic hunters are known to loan items to local museums. And lots of detectorists sell valuable finds for a profit! You can earn extra income—all while participating in a hobby you love! If you are looking to make some money on your finds, there’s a few things you need to know before you sell:

  1. Correctly identify your find
  2. Get an estimate of its value
  3. Decide where to sell the item

Identify What You have Found!

This can be the tricky part. Let’s say you’ve found an old belt buckle. Is it just an ordinary men’s buckle or is it from a Revelutionary or Civil War soldier’s uniform? And what condition is it in? These are big factors in determining the buckle’s value. Our suggestion is to research your object before getting an estimate to sell. For example, if you have uncovered a piece of silver with markings, try to identify the manufacturer. Then, you can determine its age and value. Contact a local appraiser to ballpark your object’s worth. You can also post a photo of your find in a metal detecting community forum. Members are happy to help you identify your find.

Get an Estimate of Your Treasures’ Value

With 14- and 18-karat jewelry, you will see markings on the pieces of jewelry. You can look up these markings on the internet to see what it’s worth. To determine a coin’s worth, check popular websites such as NGC from the American Numismatic Association.

Where to Sell Your Treasure  

It’s easy to find a buyer online. Research high-quality coin and relics dealers that operate on the internet. There are online dealers that have been buying and selling coins, gold and silver through the mail for decades. If you want to sell gold/platinum/silver for melt, it is best to do it locally in person. Tip: Take the same item to several different jewelers and see who offers the best price.

 

Related Articles:

What are the Best Metal Detectors for Finding Coins?

What are the Best Metal Detectors for Finding Relics?

Relic Hunting: Tips for Detecting at Old Homesteads, Farms and Historical Homes

"The Marshall House" which was used by the British as a field hospital.

“The Marshall House” which was used by the British as a field hospital.

With warmer weather here (and better ground conditions), the thrill of treasure hunting beckons! If you’ve already hunted local parks, beaches and public venues in your neighborhood, it’s probably time for more advanced metal detecting. Over time, many detectorists start to realize that detecting on older private properties is where the REAL ACTION is! More old coins and excellent relics are found in private yards than anywhere else.  This is largely due to the fact that few people (if any) have ever swung a metal detector on this territory. It’s important to know the history of your area before deciding where to hunt and what you’re searching for. Do you live in a region where the Civil War was fought or where the first colonies once were? If so, you’re in ideal relic hunting territory.

Politely Ask Permission to Hunt Someone’s Private Property

There are some favorable tactics for gaining permission to hunt on private property. And in an upcoming article, we will fill you in on some of these “best practices.” But in a nutshell, it helps to explain to the home or landowner something on the order of: “I live here in town and I’m a  history buff. I appreciate older neighborhoods and properties such as this. My hobby is metal detecting, so I search for old relics in fields and old  properties. If something is interesting, I’ll be sure to show you; then offer it to a local historical society.” When you DO obtain permission to hunt, here are some tips for relic hunting success:  

  • Make sure you are good at plug cutting. You don’t want to tear up someone’s yard, field or farm!
  • Front yards were generally used a lot more than backyards. It’s best to detect the front before the backyard—specifically the  paths to and from the doors of the house.
  • Look for locations of the old out buildings. This includes sheds, barns, outhouses and wells. The paths to those areas where high traffic, with great old coin potential.
  • Get under the front porch, if possible. Lots of coins, old toys and other objects have likely slipped through the cracks. This was also a popular place for burying treasure.
  • If there are sidewalks, check along the grass edges. Coins and small objects land next to sidewalks and in the cracks.
  • Search under old trees on the property. People congregated in shady spots, also stashing items near roots.
  • Pay attention to clusters of trees, especially if they are in a row. These were usually intentionally planted years ago; it’s a good hint to check that area.
  • When you are done with the property, be sure to thank the landowner. If you had lots of luck there, consider giving the property owner a token of your appreciation.

Efficient relic hunting requires tools for careful digging and target retrieval. Many relic hunters swear by Lesche digging tools, as well as specialty shovels.

Related Articles:

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

What are the Best Metal Detectors for Finding Relics?

Expert Tip: Under-Searched Sites Will Yield Relics

Silver Navajo Indian Bracelet with Coral Inlay found in New Mexico with a metal detector.

Silver Navajo Indian Bracelet with Coral Inlay found in New Mexico with a metal detector.

The BEST places to find relics and old coins are at pre-existing homesteads, old farmhouses and former soldiers’ camps or battle sites. Obviously, there are many more locations that will yield valuables and artifacts, but these are a few good examples. Metal detectorists always face the challenge of choosing sites that are already picked over. Don’t shy away from these locations, because it’s impossible that every relic and coin has already been recovered. However, if you really want to increase your chances of treasure hunting success, it’s a great idea to find virgin sites or those that are under-searched!

How to Scout Out an Untouched Metal Detecting Site

Detecting enthusiast and relic hunter, Brian Palmer, has a clever tip for interested hobbyists. Investigate for signs of old home sites. In colder months (in some states), it’s almost impossible to treasure hunt. But you can do online research and scan old maps. It’s much easier to scout out sites when the grass isn’t high—and you can also see further into the woods. Palmer and his wife scouted around in the winter and found a fallen tree along a stone wall where there were stones in the outline of a home’s foundation. When they came back to search the area, their detectors hit on a jackpot of treasure!

Popular Relic Finds with a Metal Detector

The Palmers’ finds at this former homestead in New York included five Civil War “Eagle buttons,” flat buttons, a knapsack hook and two 1863 Civil War tokens. These tokens were issued because coins were scarce during the Civil War, but they only circulated for one year. They are great pieces of history! On another hunt they scouted ahead of time, the Palmers’ uncovered a World War I German buckle from 1839, an 1840’s Federal Navy cuff button and an Indian Wars 1874 Pattern belt plate. These are all examples of items you can find when relic hunting. Keep looking for new places to search and/or ask for permission if necessary. You, too, will come across some amazing relics!

Recommended Relic Hunting Metal Detectors:

Entry Level Relic Metal Detectors:

Mid Level Relic Metal Detectors:

Premium Relic Metal Detectors:

Resource:   “Western & Eastern Treasures” Magazine

More Than One Search Coil Will Help with Your Success!

Adding a larger or smaller search coil can lead to increased finds.

Adding a larger or smaller search coil can lead to increased finds.

As a beginner, your first metal detector comes with a “standard” sized search coil—and that seems perfect. It signals metal objects, and it’s very exciting to hear beeps while checking out your LCD display for depth and ID. But did you know that search coils are interchangeable for different detecting purposes? As you grow into the hobby, you will learn that one size search coil doesn’t “fit all”- they come in several shapes and sizes. The standard search coil is typically 7-11″ with a sufficient scanning width—sensitive to a wide range of targets. Great for beginners, these medium-sized search coils are usually the best for coin hunting and general purpose treasure hunting.

Benefits of Smaller & Larger Search Coils

If you hunt trashier areas, however, a smaller search coil will help you find valuables. Junk-filled areas are easier to work with a smaller coil, which will separate responses from undesirable targets. Smaller search coils usually range from 3-6″ in diameter. Larger search coils (12″ diameter and larger) are designed to detect deeper targets—including treasure caches. Offering much more ground coverage, you can hit targets more quickly and deeply than other search coils. Among the larger coils are “DD” coils, which cover more ground and detect less mineralization in one sweep.

In summary, most manufacturers allow you to attach search coils of different sizes and shapes to your detector. As you grow into the hobby, you may decide to equip your detector with a different sized search coil based on your hunting preference. To find interchangeable search coils for your detector, see the “Related Products” information for your detector model or check out MetalDetector.com’s Search Coil Options.