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Re: Coin and Trade Token Depths.

April 13, 2022 12:01PM
I was trying to keep this short, but failed.... But to understand my answer I think it makes a big difference knowing about my coin sites and my detecting goals at those sites, as well as a bit about my detecting history.

I first detected around 1970 (using a Heathkit GD-48 T/R). After college and a couple years making money I bought a Garrett Groundhog (15 kHz VLF/TR) in 1979 with both coils (~8" and ~10.5"?). Unfortunately from a detecting standpoint I had so many other interests then and for the next 35+ years that I didn't use my early detectors much. (BTW, I still have both although the GD-48 is inoperable due to the deterioration of the plastic housings.) I returned to detecting in 2015 (buying a Fisher Gold Bug Pro), having missed the heyday of old coin finding in publicly accessible places.

Where I live, most of the soil is old (i.e. not glacially fed like much of the Midwest), moderately mineralized (2-3 bars on the Fisher F75), primarily clay with organic topsoil in the best spots. I use HistoricAerials.com to research public sites (properties currently public parks and public schools). They must have signs of human activity prior to 1960 or I ignore them.

My detecting goals in these places are simple -- I only care about old coins. I will recover jewelry and modern coiins if they masquerade as old coins, but otherwise I don't care about them. Thus I avoid modern parks (with exceptions detailed below) and tot lots in any parks. The worst thing I have to deal with, and it seems to happen frequently, is old land that has been reworked by machinery, bringing in fresh fill (usually clay angry smiley ) to cover the old-coin-bearing ground. And of course we all live with ground that has been detected previously, meaning many of the desirable older coins are long gone. One bonus I have is that modern public parks and schools were often built on land with previous use, including earlier schools, industrial sites (people lost coins there, too), and 19th Century homesteads. In one of my sites (a school) I lucked out in that I think backfill came from old parts of town where people had dropped coins!! But that seems rare and usually backfill steals from us (by covering primo ground) more than it helps..

Because we get enough annual rainfall (spread out fairly evenly throughout the year), fertilizer and watering systems aren't typical. But grass is mowed from beginning of April through end of October and those clippings decay and become new topsoil, in the process covering coins and leading to their depth. Because of the shade, that happens less under trees. And water flow (leading to erosion) also impacts depth in both directions. BTW, all of my parks and schools have iron trash (nails, screws, wire, etc.) as well as modern aluminum trash.

I've found old coins (e.g. silver dimes) at less than 2 inch depth. (BTW, my 'depth' is relative to soil level, not vegetation level!) I've found modern coins (e.g. clad dime) as deep as 8" -- but due to backfilling, not natural overburdening. My deepest coin is a Jefferson Nickel at 9" (it was in an area where water frequently flows which likely led to extra soil deposition). My deepest old coins (basically I mean Wheat and earlier small cents, any silver coin, Buffalo and earlier nickels) have come at 8". Those specifically are small 95% copper cents, USA nickels, and silver dimes. I've only recovered four silver quarters and I think the deepest were around 6", but that's a small sample size so no reliable data there. (As of yet no silver halves or dollars.)

I use the Minelab Equinox 800 with custom settings almost exclusively for these public sites. I like to use every piece of available info, and that includes the so-called 'depth-indicator' which is really just a signal strength indicator. That combined with the audio volume report and VDI give me a mental indicator of deep vs. shallow from, and that turns out to be around 4" for small coins. I'd estimate 80-90% of old coins are below 4". Because of aluminum trash that signals around USA nickels, I have developed a method (using fast recovery speed) that helps ID shallow nickels vs. shallow trash. But for weaker signals in the nickel zone that technique is not reliable. I dig everything with VDI about Zincolns. Strong (loud) Zincoln signals I'll often ignore but the weaker ones are diggable since those could be Indian Head cents.

The title asked about trade tokens. I get very few of the older ones but they tend to track coin depths based upon time of issue. I do get a lot of modern arcade tokens -- brass about the size of a USA quarter that ring up just above Zincoln in VDI -- right where modern aluminum soft drink bottle screwcaps hit. Typically those are in the top 3 inches since they were popular in the 1990's and later.

One last note -- my mental discrimination methods obviously fail in 19th Century sites where 3-cent, silver 5-cent, and gold coins are in the aluminum trash range. Two tones and dig all non-ferrous is my rule in that kind of site.
Subject Author Views Posted

Coin and Trade Token Depths.

Monte 490 April 11, 2022 06:44PM

Re: Coin and Trade Token Depths.

GB_Amateur 385 April 13, 2022 12:01PM

Re: Coin and Trade Token Depths.

jmaryt 400 April 12, 2022 10:15PM

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