Civil War Relics & Old Coins

Last weekend was so great, I had to go back for more! My brother couldn’t make it but I invited my dad to come out with me and we headed west to a town with roots in the 1830’s. We got there just in time too. I didn’t want to leave too early because I don’t like knocking on doors early in the morning. When we arrived the home owner was on her way out, but luckily gave us the go ahead to stay and detect.

It’s a great place to hunt because the area is large, there is no interference, very little trash, and lots of old treasure. It was about40 minutes in before I had my first good target – a smashed Minié ball. about 30 minutes later I found a musket ball and about 1 minute after that another.

Another 15 minutes or so when by and I hear a faint signal that read 21 on the Equinox but the tone was hampered with what sounded like trash one direction and OK but not that great in the opposite direction. It sounded just like the first two musket balls, so I called my dad over so he could swing over it with his AT Max. He too agreed that it didn’t sound that great but I told him I think it is another musket ball, so I let him dig it and keep it, it was his first musket ball for the day!

We continued on and the next thing I know I’m digging up another musket ball. Shortly later my dad says, hey I got another one too. Moments later I hear, Mike, and I see my dad waving me over. He’s sitting on the ground with a huge smile on his face. He found what appears to be shrapnel from an exploded canon ball! How cool is that?

Then things slowed down for a while, but we continued on and it was worth it. My dad found a 3rd musket ball and I got a 1902 V Nickel. By this time my dad was getting tired so he went back to the car to sit down.

I kept at it though for about another 30 minutes. I was closer to the road and there was more junk in the ground. But then I hear this loud strong 34 or 35 VDI signal sketching from my Minelab Nox head phones. It was reading to be at about the same depth as the other good finds, but I thought to myself, there’s no way its going to be anything good. I was wrong; it was a 1901 Barber half dollar!

I detected for another 15 minutes or so but I knew my dad was waiting in the car for me so I figured I’d save the rest of the field for next time and we packed up for the day.

Garret AT Max finds included 4 Musket Balls & Exploded Cannon Ball Fragment- US Civil War Era
MineLab Equinox 800 finds: 4 Musket balls, 1 Minié ball, 1902 V Nickel and a 1901 Barber Half Dollar

American Civil War Era Relics Found

Tim and I hadn’t been out hunting for a while, so we were excited to get out to see what we could find. We usually take turns picking locations to go detecting and this weekend I chose to return to Bartow county. In the past, we’ve done pretty good finding some older coins and relics out this way. We’ve found V nickels, a shield nickel, and a blade belt tongue or batwing to name a few. Tim and I both didn’t expect to find much because we’ve been out numerous times and usually come home empty handed despite having hours of fun.

But we both had a pretty good day. At the first stop for the day, Tim started things off by finding a ’48 silver Roosevelt dime and a really cool wooden nickel play coin circa 1940. The site must had been worked over pretty well in the past though, there were few targets and I left with not much more than a wheatie.

GTI 2500 Finds including a 1948 Silver Dime and wooden nickel play coin token

Across the street from the 1830’s location number 1 was a new house that we gained permission to hunt next. It was a pretty big yard, but hard to tell where the property line ended. Neither of us found anything but clad at this location though. So to lunch we went.

After lunch we hit location number 3 – a property across the street from where I found a large cent last year. Here there was a gigantic yard to hunt and we didn’t waste much time before we got started. Unfortunately, after only 20 minutes or so the owner told us he had an emergency to tend to and asked us to leave. Luckily he said we were welcome back in the future though. Before we chased off Tim found a really cool iron work, perhaps from a bench?

We were off to location number 4, a couple doors down from location number 1. This site too had a large yard for us to hunt. The owners of the 1965 built house said it was 5 acres in total. After about 30 minutes searching in the field I found a super worn mercury dime. I was happy to finally get on the board for the day. About 5 minutes later I unearthed a musket ball – a first for me. Two-three minutes later, Tim is shouting at me, Minié ball!

With excitement in our eyes we continued to hunt the large field. A flat iron was among one of the more interesting finds. It has some writing on it, so I’m going to try and clean it up to see if I can date it. After the flat Iron, I was lucky enough to find another 3 musket balls and my first Minié ball to go with them. Meanwhile, Tim uncovered some horse shoes.

It was getting late in the day and we had to call it quits, but the property owners told us we could come back again in the future. I think we’ll be taking them up on that offer.

Equinox 800 finds of the day include a Flat Iron, Minié ball, and 4 musket balls.

Amazing first hunt of 2021

Wow, what a great day! Mike and I went out metal detecting and the good finds just kept coming!

We started near Mike’s house and I scored a magnificent BPOE badge which stands for benevolent protective order of elks. I also found a wheatie and a 1965 silver half dollar!

Antique BPOE (Benevolent Protective Order of Elks) badge/shield, 1964 Silver half dollar and a wheat penny — found using a Garrett GTI 2500

We headed further north and our first stop was a local church. We had previously obtained permission to detect this site from the grounds keeper but we had missed a small section on the other side of the church so we decided to give it a try. Mike and I found a few clad coins and I scored a 1965 Bahrain 100 fils (roughly 27 cents) coin. What a obscure find! It rang up as a nickel on my GTI 2500. Another example of why it’s important to dig the nickel signals!

By this time, Mike was pretty discouraged because my finds were pretty good and all he had were some clad coins. However, I kept telling him, “you’re going to beat me by the end of the day, I just feel it!”. Sure enough, our next stop Mike scored a 1916 Barber dime in excellent condition! He hit a homerun, what a beautiful coin and a extremely hard to find coin!

However, Mike and I weren’t done yet. After lunch we headed back to the same site where he had found the Barber dime and I found a 1907 V-nickel! It was my first v-nickel in Georgia, I had found them in Michigan, but not down south so I was thrilled. As amazing as Mike’s Barber dime was though, he out did himself and scored a silver 1899 Barber quarter!!!! Mike just hit a grand slam (using the baseball analogy again)! Mike also found a cool buffalo nickel (no date) and four wheaties, but finding two barber coins in the same day was outstanding!

1899 Barber quarter, 1916 barber dime, buffalo nickel (no date) and 4 wheaties found using a Minelab Equinox 800

One more stop and Mike found some more clad and a few more wheaties. No more silver on the last stop, but we were riding the clouds and you can’t win them all. I found a few old pocket knives and couples of bullets shells at the last site. Here are my finds for the fantastic day!

1907 V-nickel, 1964 silver half dollar, 1965 Bahrain 100fils coin, antique BPOE shield and numerous clad and relics found using a Garrett GTI 2500

During the last week of 2020 I found a gold ring and now its the first week of 2021 and I’ve already scored a v-nickel and silver half dollar! Mike’s first week of 2021 and he’s already got two, count them two, Barber coins and his first silver quarter. How many detectorists can say their first silver quarter was a Barber from the 19th century, simply amazing! Welcome to 2021…it looks like it’s going to be a fantastic year!!!

Mike’s find from the amazing day in North GA included a 1899 Barber silver quarter, a 1916 silver barber dime (excellent condition), a buffalo nickel (undated) and numerous “wheat” pennies — All found with a Minelab Equinox 800

Silver & Gold found!

My wife called me around 3:30 and told me that she would be running late and would be home later than usual. I thought to myself, “yes! That will give me a couple of hours to go metal detecting!”. I’ve been itching to head back to the 1906 farm house site. During my last visit I pulled out a couple more pennies from the 1940s and 1950s, so I knew there could be more! It’s getting tougher to find the good stuff, but you can’t give up on a productive site until it’s completely worked out!

Arriving at the farm, I knocked on the door and I was greeted by a nurse. She said the owner was sleeping and asked me who I was. I told her the owner normally gives me permission to go metal detecting in her yard. She said, “just a minute, let me check with her”. The owner was confined to her bed, she had recently taken a fall. I asked if I could speak briefly with her and took off my shoes and went inside to go talk to her. The owner is always very sweet and immediately wished me luck and I was off running!

My first good find of the day was a “war” nickel. I was working in all-metal mode and the target rang up as a nickel, but when I saw it, it just looked strange! I immediately, thought, silver “war” nickel and checked the date — 1945.

I was digging every single target that didn’t fall in the “iron” range, so that included a few larger iron relics and even a couple of nails fooled my detectors discrimination. I continued to work the field and out popped a 1942 “wheatie”. Not a spectacular find, but with the silver “war” nickel and the wheat penny, I was encouraged there might be additional good finds waiting to happen.

I worked the yard from around 4:00pm until dusk which since it’s winter was 5:45. I got another pull-tab signal about 3 feet from the large tree in the front yard and I thought to myself, “another pulltab :(“. I cut the plug and in the bottom of the plug I saw gold! It was a beautiful two tone gold band. My wife thinks it might be a wedding band, but I’m not sure. It’s around a size 5.5 or 6 and fits my pinkie perfectly. It’s a beautiful ring, but unfortunately it’s not marked. I’ll have to take it to a jewelry store or pawn shop to have it tested, but it sure looked shiny and new in the Georgia dirt!

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I think the saying still goes, “Dig everything and a site is never worked out!!!”. It’s not often you find both silver and gold when you go metal detecting, but when you do, it sure feels great! Good luck and I hope to see you all in the field getting your own silver and gold!

Metal detecting finds using a Garrett GTI 2500 in all-metal mode — large iron spanner wrench, part of plow blade, 1942 “wheatie”, 1945 silver war nickel and a two-tone gold ring!
Gold ring, 1945 silver “war” nickel, 1942 penny and assorted relics found metal detecting using a Garrett GTI 2500

Tale of 3 wheaties — metal detecting tips

I’m no expert on metal detecting, but I’ve enjoyed the hobby for many years. I normally write about my adventures, but this article is going to be a little different. I’d like to spread a little knowledge…like I said I’m no expert, but I’ve noticed I find more when I follow these three rules:

  1. Slow down
  2. If your metal detector has an all-metal mode, use it.
  3. Dig everything and a site is never hunted out!

Tip #1 is the single most important metal detecting tip I can pass over to you. In fact, this is probably the single biggest mistake most metal detectorists (even the pros) make all the time. I know I make this mistake all the time! I even notice my self doing it and I continue to do it! It’s very, very frustrating! It’s just human nature to try and find out what’s in another area or to start going faster when we should start going slower! For instance, I had about an hour and half to work the 1906 farm. Mike, my dad and I have been to this site many, many times, but it’s a large farm, so there is no way it’s hunted out. I decided to try the above tips and see if I could pull any more old coins from this farm. Here are the my results:

Metal detecting finds — 1.5 hrs of metal detecting hunted-out 1906 farm house

As you can see, I didn’t find anything to write home about, but I managed to pull three more old coins from this yard! I did this by practicing my above three points. I slowed down, way down! In fact, I was just taking very small baby steps and overlapping my coil and swinging multiple times over each area. I was also working in all-metal mode which on the Garrett GTI 2500 is super sensitive! I did just one single strip in the front yard that has yielded many old coins including silver dimes and quarters in past hunts. I really didn’t think I would find this much! Just look at how many pull tabs I pulled out, every single one of them could have been a gold ring or gold jewelry! I even found three more old coins, they just happened to be wheat pennies, but my dad, my brother and I had missed them and if we missed these coins, we missed other old coins too! Like I said, I only did one small strip in the front yard. I also noticed as my time was running out, so did my patience! The last 15 minutes or so, I was rushing and my finds stopped dead!

I know it’s easy to “cherry pick” with modern detectors. They’re extremely reliable when it comes to target ID and it’s easy to just dig the “high” tones, but this is a mistake! Gold coins and gold jewelry are very easy to miss and will read anywhere from foil to zinc penny on the conductivity range and that’s a huge conductivity range! So tip #3 is almost as important as tip #1, but I think if you only get one thing from this article it should be slow down, slow down, slow down.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all out there getting the gold! Good luck!!!

Awesome Day!

Tim and I were excited for another day of detecting. We rendezvoused at my house at 7am and were at the first field by 8. Tim had yet to visit the latest producing honey hole and he was due to find some silver. The air was brisk this morning and our hands were freezing. But we quickly warmed up when Tim uncovered his first Mercury dime for the day!

Shortly after his lucky find, laying directly on the surface, I found a pretty buffalo nickel. The weather went from mid 30’s to high 50’s very quickly and we found ourselves taking off our jackets as we continued to search the field. We both found some wheat cents and clad before we decided it was late enough in the morning to go knock on doors to get new permissions.

There was a home I had been eyeing about two blocks away from 1890. Unfortunately, we were denied access to the property by the land owner. We went back in the opposite direction where, only a block or so from the field, was a home from 1935. Tim and I were greeted by a kind elderly man, which after some explaining of what metal detecting is exactly, were granted permission to give it a go in his gigantic yard. Thrilled, Tim and I geared up and headed in opposite directions.

Moments later, on the side of the house, I was smiling when I dug a nice wheatie, but then I hear “Oh, Mike!”. I look over my shoulder and in the front yard Tim’s first target was a 1934 Washington quarter. We knew we were in for treat. It was very exciting, target after target I was finding old wheat cents. There must have been 7 or 8 when, BAM, I score my first silver for the day, a shinny Merc only inches deep.

An hour or two later, Tim and I find ourselves both searching the back yard. I had skimmed through it earlier, before I jealously entered Tim’s front yard turf after hearing he had found his 3rd piece of silver, a 2nd Mercury dime. As we swung in the back, Tim asked if I’m ready to get some lunch, to which I replied with his favorite line to me, “15 more minutes”. About 5 minutes from then, Tim glees with excitement, “Mike, I got another one”. It was a 1946 Roosevelt. That 15 minutes became about 45 after I then dug up my 2nd mercury dime for the day.

Tim and I thanked the old man and asked if we could come knocking on his door again. He said that would be fine, but was befuddled as to why after we showed him our great finds. Tim and I filled up on some great lunch before heading to the next location. It was the neighbors house. We were able to get permission from the neighbor before we left for lunch when he had spotted us detecting while he went to get his mail and sparked up a conversation when he curiously asked us what we were doing.

His house was new, built in 1978 I believe. But he told us that before it was built, there were a couple older homes on the lot that were tore down. He further explained that on his other neighbors yard, there used to be a mortuary. He said that he was good friends with that neighbor, who was currently out of town, but that it would be OK for us to head in that lot too as he knew he wouldn’t’ mind.

Tim and I were lethargic from lunch, but still excited to hit this lot becuase we had done so well at the house next door. Around 40 minutes into the hunt, I got a nice 32 signal on my Equinox 800. I dug up the barrel of an old cap gun. But wait, a cap gun usually doesn’t ring up in the 30’s. I check the hole and sure enough, that nice 32 signal still toned away. I continued to dig and found a beautiful sterling silver winged Saint Christopher ‘be my guide” emblem.

Getting tired, I headed towards Tim to see if he had found anything. He did! It was a buffalo nickel. We then headed to the mortuary lot, where we didn’t last but another 20 minutes before calling it a day. We knocked at the door and told the owner our thanks.

Tim’s Garret GTI 2500 finds of the day included a 1934 Washington quarter, 1936 & 1944 Mercury Dimes, 1946 Silver Roosevelt dime, an undated buffalo nickel, and 10 wheat cents.
Mike’s Equinox 800 finds include a 1942 Mercury dime and 1941 Mercury dime, St Christopher “Be My Guide” Stick Pin for car visor circa 1940, buffalo nickel and 15 wheat cents.

Saturday Detector Hunt

My day started early, I woke up around 6:15am to get ready. My daughter was scheduled for physical therapy in Atlanta and it’s around a one hour drive. After taking Taylor to therapy and then driving her home, I headed towards Mike’s house for the day’s hunt.

Mike and I would have a visitor this afternoon, his name was Scott and he was reading our blog and wanted to join us on a hunt. We said sure and we’d be happy to bring a new comer along with us. Scott just started metal detecting about a month ago and had purchased a Minelab Equinox 800, so he had the right equipment to find some serious treasure!

Mike and I decided to take Scott north to a small mining town nestled into the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. We arrived around lunch time and the town was bustling with tourists. We parked along a road just off the town square and started knocking on doors to ask permission. The first home we tried was turned into a business and after talking with the next door neighbor, we found out he was only there during normal business hours, so Saturday would be hard to catch the property owner.

We proceeded up the road and knocked on a early 20th century home. The young lady that answered the door was very pleasant and said sure right away. We told her we had parked down the road and would just go grab our gear. When we got back, she informed us that her sister (who also lived in the house), didn’t want us tearing up her new sod. I asked her if maybe we could stick to the backyard and she went inside to check and came out and said that would be fine.

It wasn’t a huge back yard, but Mike, Scott and and I all went in different directions. There was a section of the yard without any grass and I suspected that the original kitchen from the 19th century used to reside there. I started in that area and my first target was just junk, but mixed with the soil was a piece of broken porcelain china, which supported my theory. As we were detecting, someone next door at the church was taking leaves to the road and we asked if he would mind if we detected the church property. He said, “sure, no problem, just fill in all your holes”. So we secured our 2nd location of the day. After about an hour in her yard and not much to show for our efforts, we finally called it quits on the early 20th century home. We thanked the young lady for her hospitality and as we chatted, so told us she grew up in that home and gave us a few tips on what the neighborhood looked like when she was a child. It’s always pays to ask questions and most people are happy to talk about their past and give great tips!

The church yard wasn’t very big, but we found a couple of cool relics. No old coins would surface that day, but there is always next time!

My finds from the church yard included an old pocket knife, copper kids bracelet and about $1.47 in pocket change (all clad). I was using my Garrett GTI 2500.
Mike found some very interesting relics including a Corbin padlock, some house and car keys and a Tootsie toy train from the 1930s! Mike was using a Minelab Equinox 800.
Close-up of 1930s or 1940s-era Tootsie toy train marked “Pioneer stock shippers”
1930s or 1940s Tootsie toy train — non-dug example

After the church yard, we walked down the street and knocked on a few homes and no-one answered the door. Then we knocked on a small bungalow from the 1950s and a gentlemen named Bill answered the door. Bill said sure he wouldn’t mind and he also said he was thinking about purchasing a metal detector too. Bill said his property was part of a large hotel that existed backed in the last 19th century, so it was a great place to metal detect. In fact, the town had a deep mining history that dated backed to the early 19th century, so who knows what goodies we could find!

Here are my finds from the 1950s bugalow that was originally part of a large hotel property in the 1880s. These finds were found using a Garrett GTI 2500.

My most interesting find was a round hollow copper button. Here are some close-up photos of the button:

Close-up of button found using Garrett GTI 2500 — found by the author
Chart — dating old buttons (1963 Dating Early Plain Buttons by Their Form. American Antiquity)

It appears my button is the type F dated from the 1812-1830 time frame! I just got on the 19th century board and the early 19th century to boot too! Metal detecting is a great hobby! Its fun meeting new people, enjoying the afternoon/outdoors and finding relics and coins from the past. We didn’t find any old coins or anything spectacular but we all had a great time! Scott also scored a terrific antique large axe head, see photo below. Till next time, stay safe and good luck!

Axe head found by Scott using a Minelab Equinox 800
Here’s a similar vintage axe head — New Jersey Pattern
Kentucky pattern axe head — Keen Kutter brand
Similar axe head sold by the dozen ($20/dozen) in 1905 — L. & I. J. White Company

Another Score

I realize that people are going to read this and think you never scored a first time let alone again. But it can be tough to find coins over 50 years old. Tim and I have been out numerous times at homesteads old enough for turn of the 20th century finds, but come home empty handed.

Wheat cents are fairly easy to find, however, even those can get us excited, especially if we been swinging for a couple hours. Silver coins and coinage before the modern designs, such as a buffalo nickel, can be difficult to find. That is why when I do find silver, I consider it a win. And today, I won again!

This is actually historic for me, it marks the 3rd time in a row I’ve gone out and recovered a silver coin. Almost, 4 times in a row, but I had an outing in between with not much more than a Tootsie car. Anyway, this Sunday morning, I was able to dig up about $1.28 in clad, six wheat cents, and a 1951 Roosevelt dime.

What did you find today?

Silver again!

All week long I’d been yearning to search for another silver dime. After this past Sunday, I had I counted my tally for the year and I was at 9 silver dimes. So, I was hoping that within a little less than two months, before the end of the year, I’d make that an even 10.

My brother was feeling under the weather, so he was unable to join me. But I called my dad up and we met to hit the field where I had found the war nickel the Sunday before. I was in luck! About 30 minutes in I swung, heard a crisp 28 tone and right on the surface, without even digging, I could see some nice shinny silver. It was a 1944 Mercury dime!

Pumped up as ever, I continued to search the area. About 30 minutes later, I uncovered a 1954 Rosie. It is unusual for silver to tarnish in GA soil, but the obverse of this one was blackened. I didn’t know for sure it was silver until I was able to get it cleaned up a bit to be able to read the date.

My dad didn’t make the board this hunt, but he did find around $1 in clad. I think my total clad was about 73 cents. I was lucky enough to snatch 3 wheeties too.

My First War Nickel!

This past Saturday Tim and I went detecting but didn’t find anything exciting. Sunday morning I was making plans with my dad to meet him and my mom for lunch and he wanted to meet later in the afternoon because he wanted to hit the dirt to do some detecting. After getting off the phone with him, I thought to myself, I should get out there too, and boy, I’m glad I did.

It was a fantastic morning! I went out to a field where a I knew for sure used to sit a house from the 50’s. Not too old, but I figured old enough for silver. I ended up getting a few neat finds. The tally included $1.16ish in clad, a wheat cent, an 1942 mercury dime, a Namco token, an 1909 Canadian one cent piece, and my first war Nickel dated 1942 P.

Obverse of significant finds from 11/1/2020. Includes 1942 War Nickel, 1942 Mercury Dime, and a 1909 Canadian One Cent Piece.

The ground was very wet that morning and when I dug the nickel I couldn’t see the date or mint marking. But, I knew it was something special because it had a glow that just seemed to bright for a regular nickel.

Don’t be lazy. Get off your keister and do some swingin’ and a diggin’. I’m sure glad I did!

Reverse of significant finds from 11/1/2020. Includes 1942 War Nickel, 1942 Mercury Dime, and a 1909 Canadian One Cent Piece.