Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting on the weekend for old coins and rings.
Finding Old Coins Metal Detecting
With a metal detector, you never know what you're going to find, and that's what I love about the hobby. In my metal detecting adventures, I've recovered rare silver coins, tokens, rings, and other interesting relics that would otherwise be lost forever.
Most of the metal detecting I do is in search of old coins. I love finding silver coins and being the first person to hold them since they were lost.
While it's always possible to find a buried coin cache, or even a single coin worth a lot of money, it is rare. Most of the 1800s coins I recover from the ground aren't worth much more than their face value, but I metal detect for my collection, not to sell my finds.
Most of my metal detecting finds were recovered from the yards of old homes built in the 1800s. Getting permission to metal detect old homes on private property is one of the best ways to find interesting coins and relics. Another good way to find rare coins and rings is metal detecting old swimming holes in lakes and creeks.
4 Pfenning Copper Coin From 1795
This 4 Pfenning German (Prussian) coin from 1795 is the oldest and most unusual coin I've ever found metal detecting, as of this 2021 update. Here in the Midwest of the United States, it's very rare to find a coin like this. To date, it is one of my best finds metal detecting, at least for coins.
I found the coin in the backyard of an 1880s home, not far from an old clothes hanger. I made the discovery at the end of the day right before I was about to leave. With a little research, I discovered this particular 4 Pfenning coin was minted from 1760 to 1814. Thankfully, the generous property owner let me keep the coin.
1 Kreuzer Copper Coin (Austria) From 1879
I found this Austrian copper coin under a massive white pine in the front yard of an abandoned house from the 1860s that I've metal detected multiple times. The coin was only a few inches below the surface, and it was the oldest and most interesting find from the property. Unfortunately, like many of the older copper coins I dig out of the ground, this one's in bad condition, but it's readable.
To date, this is the only 1 cent Kreuzer I've found with my metal detector. Most of the silver and copper coins I find metal detecting aren't as old as this one. This 1 cent Kreuzer was minted from 1857 to 1892.
1/2 Sen (Japanese) Copper Coin (Minted Between 1873 and 1888)
This antique 1/2 Sen is the only Japanese coin I've ever found with my metal detector. I found the coin at the site of a former 1800s school house in my town where I got permission to metal detect. At this site, I also found several rare American coins, one of which was silver, and one silver Canadian coin.
The exact date on this coin is very difficult to make out, but after doing some research, I learned that this 1/2 Sen was minted from 1873 to 1888, placing the date of this coin somewhere in that time frame.
Canadian 10-Cent Silver Coin From 1902
My 10-cent Canadian silver coin from 1902 is the only foreign silver coin I've ever found metal detecting. I found this coin in the same school house field where I found the 1800s 1/2 Sen I mentioned earlier. This particular field, where an old school house once stood, produced several awesome finds.
The Edward VII silver 10-cent coin was minted from only 1902 to 1910, making the one I found the oldest year from the series. The coin is slightly tarnished, but it's otherwise in good condition for being in the ground so long.
My Collection of Silver Barber Coins (1902 to 1912)
Silver coins are my favorites to find metal detecting. You can tell right away when it's silver because the coins almost always come out of the ground looking shiny and new. I remember when I found my first silver coin and how exciting it still is when I find one, especially when it's a half dollar or something really old and rare.
The Barber half dollar featured in the photo is the only half dollar I've ever found as of this update, and, unfortunately, I accidentally struck the reverse side with my shovel. It's still a beautiful coin that I'm happy to have in my collection. I found the half dollar in the front yard of an 1800s home. The other Barber dimes and quarter were found at various old home sites.
My Liberty Head Nickel Collection
I actually have more Liberty Head nickels, as well as Buffalo nickels, in my collection, but most of them are badly worn with the dates nearly unreadable. I don't find nickels very often when I go metal detecting because the audio signals are similar to some trash signals that I ignore more than I should. Nickels are definitely a challenge to find, compared to silver and copper coins.
The oldest Liberty Head nickel (also called V nickels) in my collection is from 1898. These coins were minted from 1883 to 1912 until the Buffalo nickel replaced them. Nickels don't hold up well in the ground, as you can see from my pictures. They always come out of the ground badly worn and almost unreadable.
My Collection of Indian Head Cents
Buried Indian Head cents develop a unique green patina that makes them one of my favorites to collect. I have around twenty of them in my collection. Featured in the photo are two of my older Indian Head cents in better condition.
All of the Indian Head cents I found with my metal detector were found at old house sites from the 1800s and early 1900s. The minting years for the Indian Head penny were 1859 to 1909. My oldest Indian Head penny is from 1878. The most common dates I find are 1890 through 1900. The older ones are harder to find.
The Metal Detecting Gear I Use to Find Old Coins
- Detector: If you're new to the hobby, you don't have to spend a lot of money on a super fancy metal detector, but choose one that's reliable and capable of finding objects at least ten inches deep. Based on my metal detecting experience on both land and in the water, I still recommend the Garrett AT Pro, which is the metal detector that found all of the coins featured in this article. As of this 2022 update, I still use it exclusively.
- Headphones: Since I go metal detecting in the water, too, I replaced the Garrett stock headphones (non-waterproof) with the water-proof Gray Ghost headphones. You can submerge them underwater without any problems. The headphones still work great.
- Pinpointer: I use the Garrett AT Pinpointer to recover all of my finds. A pinpointer is a must for locating your target on land and in the water.
- Digger: Using a comfortable and durable digger is also very important. Smaller shovels, designed specifically for metal detecting, are what you want to use. The digger that never leaves my side when I head out into the field is the serrated Lesche T-handle digger. I'm not a fan of the small handheld one.
Where to Look for Coins
If you want to increase your chances of finding old coins, I definitely recommend knocking on some doors and getting permission to metal detect private property instead of your local park. Public parks can definitely produce some nice finds, but yards around old homes can be loaded with coins.
More of My Articles About Metal Detecting
- The Best Metal Detecting Sites for Old Coins and Rings
- How to Find Deep Silver Coins with the AT Pro Metal Detector
- Tips for Underwater Metal Detecting Old Swimming Holes
- Tips for Metal Detecting Sidewalks and Curb Strips
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Matt G.