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Rare Old Coins I Found with My Metal Detector

Updated on February 22, 2020
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting for old coins and relics.

Silver Barber coins I found with my metal detector.
Silver Barber coins I found with my metal detector.

Finding Coins Metal Detecting

I've collected several interesting rings and relics with my metal detector, but old coins are my favorite to find. There is something very exciting about unearthing an antique coin and being the first person to hold it in my hand since the day it was lost a long time ago.

Most of the older coins I recover from the ground usually aren't worth a whole lot of money, but I metal detect to find cool things for my personal collection, not to sell them.

I have found hundreds of coins with my metal detector, most of which came from private property around old homes from the 1800's. Getting permission to metal detect old homes on private property is the best way to find interesting silver and copper coins, as well as rings and relics. Another awesome way to make interesting finds is metal detecting old swimming holes.

The oldest coin I've ever found metal detecting.
The oldest coin I've ever found metal detecting.

4 Pfenning Copper Coin from 1795

This 4 Pfenning German (Prussian) coin from 1795 is still the oldest and most unusual coin I've ever found metal detecting, as of this writing, and it's rare to find a coin like this in the United States. The coin was an exciting discovery and one of my best finds metal detecting.

I found the 4 Pfenning metal detecting the backyard of an 1880's home, not far from an old clothes hanger. This particular coin was minted from 1760 to 1814. Thankfully, the property owner let me keep the coin.

My 1795 4 Pfenning copper coin I found with my metal detector.
My 1795 4 Pfenning copper coin I found with my metal detector.
I found this rare 1879 Kreuzer (Austria) under a massive pine tree at an old house from the 1860's.
I found this rare 1879 Kreuzer (Austria) under a massive pine tree at an old house from the 1860's.

1 Kreuzer Copper Coin (Austria) from 1879

One of my more recent finds, I found this Austrian copper coin under a massive pine tree in the front yard of an abandoned house from the 1860's. Unfortunately, like many of the older copper coins I dig out of the ground, this one's in bad condition, but readable.

I really like finding foreign coins like this. Living in the United States, I don't find them very often. Most of the older American coins I dig up are newer than this one. The 1 cent Kreuzer was minted from 1857 to 1892.

The reverse side of my copper 1 Kreuzer coin (1879).
The reverse side of my copper 1 Kreuzer coin (1879).
I found this rare Japanese 1/2 Sen in a field where an old 1800's school house once stood.
I found this rare Japanese 1/2 Sen in a field where an old 1800's school house once stood.

1/2 Sen (Japanese) Copper Coin (Minted Between 1873 and 1888)

The antique 1/2 Sen is the only Japanese coin I've ever found with my metal detector. I found the 1/2 Sen at the site of a former 1800's school house in my town. At this site, I also found several rare American coins and one silver Canadian coin.

I don't know the exact date of this particular coin, but I do know that this 1/2 Sen was minted from 1873 to 1888, placing the date of this coin somewhere in that time frame. If you can read the exact date in the two pictures I've included, please comment below.

1/2 Sen Japanese copper coin.
1/2 Sen Japanese copper coin.
I found this 10 cent Canadian silver coin in the same field where I found the Japanese 1/2 Sen. The coin is dated 1902.
I found this 10 cent Canadian silver coin in the same field where I found the Japanese 1/2 Sen. The coin is dated 1902.

Canadian 10 Cent Silver Coin from 1902

My 10 cent Canadian silver coin from 1902 is the only foreign silver currency I've ever found metal detecting. I found this coin in the same school house field where I unearthed the 1800's 1/2 Sen. This particular field, where an old school house once stood, produced several awesome finds.

The Edward VII silver 10 cent coin was minted from only 1902 to 1910, making the one I found the oldest year from the series. The coin is slightly tarnished, but otherwise in good condition for being in the ground so long.

Edward VII silver Canadian coin from 1902, the first year these were minted.
Edward VII silver Canadian coin from 1902, the first year these were minted.
I found these silver Barber coins metal detecting old homes and curb strips. The dates range from 1902 to 1912.
I found these silver Barber coins metal detecting old homes and curb strips. The dates range from 1902 to 1912.

My Collection of Silver Barber Coins (1902 to 1912)

Silver coins are exciting coins to find metal detecting. If you've never metal detected before, silver coins usually come out of the ground looking shiny and new, or slightly tarnished. When you see the shiny edge of the coin poking through the dirt plug, you know right away that it's silver.

The Barber half dollar is the only half dollar I've ever found. It's a beautiful coin, but unfortunately, I accidentally struck the reverse side with my digger. I'm still happy to have it in my collection. I dug it out of the front yard of an 1800's home in a historical town. The other Barber dimes and quarter were found at various old home sites.

The reverse side of my 1902 silver Barber half dollar.
The reverse side of my 1902 silver Barber half dollar.
Various Liberty Head Nickels (V Nickels) I found. The dates range from 1898 to 1910.
Various Liberty Head Nickels (V Nickels) I found. The dates range from 1898 to 1910.

My Liberty Head Nickel Collection

I actually have more Liberty Head nickels, as well as Buffalo nickels, in my collection, but most of them are badly worn with the dates nearly unreadable. I rarely find nickels when I go metal detecting. On my metal detector, nickels produce the same sound and target ID as various types of trash, making them more difficult to find than silver and copper coins.

The oldest Liberty Head nickel in my collection is from 1898. These coins, also called V nickels, were minted from 1883 to 1912 until the Buffalo nickel replaced them. Nickels don't hold up well in the ground, as you can see from my pictures. They always come out of the ground worn and in rough shape.

The back side of one of my V Nickels (Liberty Head).
The back side of one of my V Nickels (Liberty Head).

My Collection of Indian Head Cents

The design of the Indian Head cent and the beautiful green patina they develop from being underground make them one of my favorite coins to dig up. I have around twenty in my collection, but for the two pictures I've included, I cherry picked some of my older ones in better condition.

All of these coins were found metal detecting old house sites from the 1800's and early 1900's. The minting years for the Indian Head penny was 1859 to 1909. My oldest Indian Head penny is an 1878. The most common dates I find are 1890 through 1900.

The reverse side of an Indian Head cent I found metal detecting.
The reverse side of an Indian Head cent I found metal detecting.

The Metal Detecting Gear I Use to Find Old Coins

If you're new to the hobby, you don't have to spend a lot of money on a super fancy metal detector, but you do want to invest in a reliable one that will last. Based on my experience doing a lot of detecting over the years with this model, I recommend the Garrett AT Pro, which is the metal detector that found all of the coins featured in this article. I replaced my Garrett stock headphones (non-waterproof) with the water-proof Gray Ghost headphones. You can submerge them underwater without any problems.

I use the matching Garrett AT Pinpointer as well, a must for locating your target on land and in the water. Using a comfortable and durable digger is also very important. Smaller shovels, designed specifically for metal detecting, are what you want to use. The digger that never leaves my side when I head out into the field is the serrated Lesche T-handle digger. I'm not a fan of the small handheld one.

Check out more of my articles about metal detecting:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Matt G.

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