Written by: Daniel and Michael Bernzweig
You could find some of the best antique coins around if you head out with a metal detector. So, read on and learn from a pro how you can build your coin collection and so much more simply by going coin hunting with the right metal detector.
Selecting the Machine
Overall, the best metal detectors for finding coins are Very Low Frequency (VLF) style metal detectors; probably the most popular type on the market. From here, it gets a little personal! For example, you'll need to decide if you'd like the metal detector to be waterproof. Some of the best coin caches have been found underwater after all and, if you're an experienced diver you can have even more fun (and possibly success) by selecting the best metal detector that's not just waterproof but also rated for diving.
A metal detector with a medium to large search coil is best for coin hunting as well because it will search more deeply into the ground than a machine with a smaller search coil. Choosing the right weight machine for you and looking at other more customized features like this will further assist you in zeroing in on the best metal detector for you personally.
Learning to Use Your Metal Detector
Most metal detectors come with excellent user manuals to assist you in learning to operate that specific device. You'll also enjoy reading metal detecting books and/or watching metal detecting videos to further hone your craft and increase your success rate. Basically though it's just practice that will help you become more and more successful with your machine.
As for using your metal detector to find the best antique coins, you'll want to be sure to do a few things. Concentrate on one specific area and sweep it with your metal detector slowly and with small motions several times, as opposed to simply walking the area doing large sweeps with your machine. You see, the better coins are located deeper down in the soil because they're older. As a result, you want to use your metal detector to search as deeply as it can. These types of slow, concentrated motions will help you do that.
Choosing the Site
Now that you've got your metal detector and you know how to use it for coin hunting, you've got to figure out where to go. Always check the local laws before metal detecting on any site. If it is a private location, be sure to obtain permission from the owner. Some ideas of good places to find antique coins include:
Old Public School Yards
Old Antique Home Sites (With Permission)
Farms (With Permission)
Sunken Ship Sites (With Permission)
Public Boat Docks
Also if you do some research, you'll find more specific places in your area (or places you like to travel to) where you might find coin caches. Look for old properties where people gathered like former commons, fair grounds, public train stations, etc. You may also come across information on former garbage dumps that are now buried or other types of places like this that were active when these old coins were actually being used as currency but have since almost disappeared.
Then, once you find a place you'd like to go coin hunting with your metal detector, always be sure to find the owner and ask permission to metal detect on his or her property. If you don't get permission, you can't go metal detecting there. Also, metal detectorists are very keen on leaving a search site just as they found it. This means filling in and covering back up any digging holes you make, as well as not damaging vegetation while searching, and packing out any and all trash you make or find. We want people to keep letting metal detectorists onto their properties after all and only respectful behavior will help that happen.
At this point all that's left to do is head outside and start searching for coins! While you're sure to find some trash targets, and some treasures you weren't counting on, you're also highly likely to find some unique coins that otherwise would have remained buried deep underground where no one could enjoy them. However, if you equip yourself with a metal detector, you can not only enlarge and enhance your own coin collection, you'll be able to share these finds with other coin collectors, historians, and fellow metal detectorists too.
Michael Bernzweig manages MetalDetector.com in Southborough, MA. He has written on the subject of treasure hunting and medal detecting since the mid 1980s. He enjoys traveling with his metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.