Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting for old coins and relics.
Where to Find Old Coins and Rings When Metal Detecting
If you want to detect old coins and rings, you have to do a little research to find sites in your area with some history behind them. Randomly selecting a site without doing any research is a bad idea. Much like choosing real estate, location is very important for this hobby.
Places where people congregated a long time ago are far more likely to produce older finds. Living in the mid-west, I don't have the opportunity to find civil war relics, but I find old coins on a regular basis by treasure-hunting historical sites from the 1800s using my Garrett AT Pro metal detector. I'll share some of the types of places that produce the best finds for me.
I've gone treasure hunting at several different places, but one of the best metal detecting sites for me has always been permissions at old homes, preferably those built before 1900. If you happen to live in a historical area with homes dating back to the 1800s or earlier, there's a good chance that many of those homes have never been metal detected because most people are too scared to knock on the door and ask for permission.
My best metal detecting finds have come from the grounds around old homes. I found a 4 pfennig from 1795 found near a well in the back yard of a home built in 1880. I have also found lots of silver coins and rings by metal detecting around old properties.
Getting permission is easier than you think. Some people say yes and some say no, but I get permission more often than not. If you want to find your first silver coin, old homes are your best bet. These are also great places to find rings dropped by one of the many people who lived in the house over the years. The grass along a front walkway is often a hot spot.
Old House Sites (Torn Down)
Abandoned sites where old houses once stood are good places to make interesting finds, and these places are often overlooked by others. After researching local spots, I hunted an old house site minutes from my house and found a silver Barber dime and two relics. I had driven past the place hundreds of times not knowing a house once stood there—until I did a little research.
There are several spots in my area that you wouldn't know were once house sites without looking at an old map. There are likely spots like this in your area too, including sites of old school houses. Many old school houses once stood in corn fields. These are some of the best places to go metal detecting if they haven't yet been hunted.
Old Swimming Holes
If you're buying your first detector or looking to upgrade your gear, I definitely recommend an all-terrain metal detector. This gives you the advantage of being able to treasure hunt old swimming holes. In the 1800s, people spent a lot of their summer days at their local swimming holes, dropping coins and jewelry in the water while they swam. These are really good places to find old coins and antique rings.
Old swimming holes that were once very popular a long time ago have often never been hunted before because they're harder to find than physical sites like a house or park. The only way to find them is through research. With water detecting, you need a good sand scoop in deeper water, but in shallow water you can recover finds with your hands, using a good pinpointer to locate the object.
Not many churches have been treasure hunted because, like private homes, you need to get permission to hunt them, and most people aren't confident enough to ask. Go inside the church, talk with the pastor, and ask for permission. I've never been denied permission.
The best churches to metal detect, if you're after the old stuff, are the ones built before 1900 that haven't been heavily landscaped. Dirt displacement makes it a lot harder to find anything, and you don't want to damage well-manicured grass. I found lots of coins and one silver ring in the backyard of my local church. Most of them were close to a walkway.
I will say that parks are hit or miss, but if you can find old parks in rural areas, you have a better chance of discovering a site that's never been detected before. Old parks can be loaded with coins and rings (along with plenty of trash), but you usually don't have to ask permission to hunt them.
While it's true that many old parks have already been hunted out, that's not always the case, and there's almost always something left in the ground that someone else missed with their detector. In my town, there's a very old park that's been hunted for many years, but I was able to find a small hot spot in a wooded area that produced several old coins, a token, and an old military button, so far.
Researching Metal Detecting Sites
Using a good metal detector is obviously important, but researching local history is also key to finding cool stuff in this hobby. I love history anyway, so the researching part for me is very interesting. You can research old spots in your town by using sites that sell old maps.
Sites like Historic Aerials are good resources for topographical maps, some of which date back to the mid-1800s and older. This is a good way to find where the oldest houses stand or once stood. Another option is to use Google Earth to view older maps. Your local library and historical society are also excellent resources.
© 2018 Matt G.
Matt G. (author) from United States on October 31, 2019:
Thank you. I enjoyed writing it.
Gary Baker on October 31, 2019:
Thank you I enjoyed reading you’re article