Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finding Coins on the Street

Well it looks like we're having a real Winter this year!  After our 16 inch snow on December 19th, the temperature stayed pretty much below freezing for the next month. In mid-January we had a bit of a thaw, but here on the last weekend of the month, we got another 6 inch snowfall last night. In all that, I got out with the metal detector twice and found about $5.00 in change, no jewelry. 

As always, when one treasure source isn't producing, I can turn to another. This month was a bit of a surprise, we'll get to that in a minute. As I've talked about previously, coin roll hunting is a great way to treasure hunt.  I did go through a few boxes of halves but they were very bleak. I think out of 3 boxes, I found one silver half.  I did find a 1980 Panama half dollar (in the same box) which was a neat surprise. Does that count as Spanish treasure?

This month I also went through a couple thousand pennies, just to see what's out there.  I do look for the error coins, but haven't come up with a penny error yet. I have to admit that's a bit tedious. They can be worth some money though, so I'll probably keep looking for errors and see if it's worth my time. Every type of treasure-hunting isn't for everybody.  It's easier to just collect wheat pennies because you can't miss them. You could easily start a coin book for wheats just found through coin roll hunting.  I did have more luck with the wheats. They are fun to find.

Since yard sale season is still a month or two away, there is always thrift store hunting. That's good in any season.  If you have a few stores in a reasonable distance from you, they are worth checking out. My better half trolls through them on a regular basis and sometimes turns up a gem or two. Last week, she found a neat old Carnival glass vase.  They are called that because they were given out as prizes at carnivals during the Depression. They were also used for cheap giveaways at grocery stores to entice shoppers to come in.  Nowadays they can be worth a pretty penny for nice pieces.  The vase she turned up is from the 1920's based on the Imperial Glass cross mark on the base. We haven't been able to figure out what it's worth yet, but certainly exponentially more than the $1.90 she paid for it.  We have a small collection of Carnival glass, and it really looks good when it's all displayed together.  At this point, what it's worth doesn't matter, since it's not going anywhere but into the collection as a piece of found treasure.

So the final type of treasure-hunting I was able to do in January is moneywalking.  I've picked up 5 or 10 coins a month off the street when they appear in the path of my daily walks. But I've not had what you could call steady success with moneywalking.  I've been reading some other blogs for tips on what other treasure hunters have done to increase their coin finds, and I wanted to test out that theory of finding change in melting snowpiles. I put more emphasis on it this month and did the best I ever have.  In January, I was able to find 69 coins. That's like 6 months tallies from 2009.  I was amazed, but it truly does work. I only came up with 2 or 3 coins out of snowpiles, so the jury's still out on that.  I have concentrated on the ground under parking meters, and that continues to produce pretty well. I expanded my walking range to different streets and that has helped a lot.  In my city, though, they are taking out the parking meters one by one and replacing them with  2 or 3 parking machines per block.  I thought that would be the death knell for moneywalking in that area. However, last week I decided to start checking them and I've been pleasantly surprised to find coins in the reject slots, and not just grubby pennies. Here's a picture of January's returns just from moneywalking, over $2.00, including an angel token and a wheat penny.  That's great, I'm encouraged that this avenue of treasure hunting will be a producer as well, and I haven't even hit my first car wash or drive-through window yet! Ha-ha!  

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quick January Treasure Hunt

Rain Friday, rain Sunday but was able to get out Saturday for a bit.  We finally had enough warm air that the ground has thawed, although there are some dirty piles of snow still around.  Hit a couple of local schools with the Ace 250 metal detector. Came up with about $3 in change, not bad, was pleased to find a necklace and my first gold dollar of the year, always nice to find...certainly more efficient than digging 100 pennies!

Here's a quarter coming up from a few inches deep in a woodchip playground.   Keep hunting, it's out there! 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hunting the Copper Mine

If you have winter cabin fever like I do, here is an easy way to do some treasure hunting at your kitchen table.  Take $5 to the bank and ask for pennies. All banks have rolls of pennies. This is an easy and inexpensive way to get your family or kids into coin collecting or treasure hunting. 

There are several ways to approach the hunt.  You can buy a penny book at Walmart and see how many slots you can fill. Or you can look for rare coins.  Yes, there are still some pretty valuable pennies out there, and some recent ones too. Go to the Professional Coin Grading Service website, click on Price Guide, and then scroll down to Lincoln cents. You can see what the prices are for coins by grade. There are several error varieties out there. The 1999 with wide AM on the reverse is worth a couple hundred, and there are doubled dies listed from the 90's, 80's, 70's and 60's that are worth quite a bit in excellent condition. The 1969-S is worth about $60,000. That would certainly make my day! I keep a list of the potential valuable pennies and put them aside while hunting, then come back with a magnifying glass and check closely at the end.  The rest I toss into a bowl.

You can also just collect up wheat-back pennies.  You probably haven't seen any in circulation in a while (they changed to Memorial backs in 1959). However, they are still out there.  Hey, there's one right now, see?

I only found the one wheat, a 1958-D, out of this lot of 500 pennies.  But I was able to come up with three of the new 2009 Abe Lincoln pennies pictured below. You may not have seen any of these yet, but the Memorial back pennies that have been the design for most of our lifetimes are now also a thing of the past.  The 2009's have four different reverse sides with scenes from Lincoln's life, since 2009 is the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1809. (The Lincoln cent was introduced in 1909 for his 100th birthday).

The US Mint will introduce a new reverse design on the 2010 pennies that will have a union shield.  The first of these pennies was released on February 11, 2010, Lincoln's birthday.  Some people also collect pre-1982 cents since they were made of pure copper back then, making each copper penny worth more than 1 cent based on just the copper content.  (Now they are made of zinc plated with copper). So you can see there are lots of treasure hunting options.  I wonder if we'll be hunting for Memorial-back pennies in ten years?  Somehow I doubt it, but you never know!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seasonal Treasure Hunting

Here's what it looked like outside my house 3 weeks ago. Since then the temperature has pretty much stayed below freezing. And then we got an inch of snow last night. Suffice it to say that the ground is frozen solid. So the metal detector stands quietly propped up in a corner, awaiting fairer weather. But that doesn't mean that treasure hunting has to take a season off. As I've discussed in previous missives, there are multiple ways to reap the bounty of treasure that the earth provides for us.
The post-holiday time is a good time to start roaming through the thrift stores, as people clear out the holiday clutter in their houses. There are a lot of donations made between New Years (resolutions to clean out) and the Spring thaw when people open the windows and do Spring cleaning.
Another option is moneywalking. When snow is on the ground, dropped coins disappear silently. Match that with cold fingers and people fumbling with gloves on, and you can find dropped coins on the ground as the snow and ice start to melt. As the piles of snow started diminishing last week, I walked through town and found 5 coins on the sidewalk under parking meters. They wouldn't be there on a sunny Summer day, as they were dropped in snow and the person who lost them wasn't about to fish through a snowpile for a nearly invisible silvery dime. For the same reason, there can be coins in parking lots as people drop them when getting car keys out of a pocket.
Coin roll hunting is another good snowy-day activity that can feed your treasure jones if you don't care to traipse through icy parking lots and city streets.
Oh, and don't forget to check those Coinstar reject trays when you go in and out of stores. You may think they will never have anything in them, and usually you will be correct, but occasionally you'll hit some that have several coins in there and you'll be able to enjoy that little adrenalin surge of finding treasure. Aarghh.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 Treasure Hunting Wrapup

It is snowy and frozen here this New years weekend, so I went through the 2009 treasure chest and took some pictures. Last year I managed to dig up over 2500 coins with a metal detector, not bad. Added up to almost $200. Also managed to dig 21 rings from parks, sports fields and playgrounds, several pretty nice ones. When it was too cold or wet, I did some coin roll hunting for silver. Aarghh. The pictures are 336 quarters, 2 gold dollars, 2 half dollars and a military token, all dug. The pile of half dollars are all silver from the 1960s when they were made of either 90% silver (1964 and before) or 40% silver (1965-69). I picked out the four gold rings I dug, my first mate has already claimed them, as she has the silver dolphin ring. Other stuff is in previous posts. Little by little it all adds up to a full treasure chest.