History

A Nice Visit With an Old Friend

“You did what?” I asked my old friend when she came to visit. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we took the time to exchange stories. We always used to amuse each other this way. She had the best ones to tell. We both took our turns and passed a few hours. When she got to describing her new hobby, I was nonplussed. She said she went coin shooting, thus precipitating my outburst. She reached into her handbag and pulled out a handful of old coins. I admired this collection, especially when I found out that she had used a metal detector to track all of it. Not only that, but that it came from an area not far from her house. I found that amazing. I thought you would have to go far afield to another state.

I asked multiple questions: how do you know where to go? What started you on this road? Are the coins worth anything and what do you do with them? I went on and on. Finally, she started from scratch to describe this interesting world of which I knew absolutely nothing. There are other people like her who search for coins with metal detectors like these ones on a regular basis. It isn’t just for curious kids at the beach. It is a true hobby that yields some profit. “I didn’t go into it exclusively for this reason,” she explained. “I like the people I meet and enjoy the challenge of the hunt. If I find something valuable, so much the better.”

“Coin shooting” is the name of her hobby whose goal is mostly to find cold, hard cash. There are serious devotees as a result. A diligent detectorist will go frequently enough to make a good haul over time. Certainly enough to pay for the metal device and many times over. I asked her to go on. Is there any skill involved? “You have to know your machine and how a coin will read as you search. There is a coil inside. You have to test it quite a bit.” I got the message. This sport wasn’t for novices.

“If you don’t want to waste your time, you set the metal detector to eliminate everything but coins. No one wants to dig up a bunch of worthless trash. Each device has a ‘discrimination knob.’” It was getting more interesting. You could actually tell it whether you wanted pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters. I learned that pennies minted before 1984 bring in three to four cents apiece. I didn’t know that a detectorist never walks away from a dig. There can be more than one coin in a hole. It is someone’s stash! Old coins are better than the new. If it is rare, it will bring in some money. You can go to a coin tracker website or consult a reputable dealer. “We all have our own,” she added.