Metal detecting is a fascinating hobby that requires patience, skill, and knowledge. The thrill of uncovering hidden treasures buried beneath the ground drives many enthusiasts to pursue this activity. However, identifying those finds accurately is crucial to understanding their historical and monetary significance.
This article aims to guide you through properly identifying your metal-detecting finds, including coins, relics, jewelry, and other objects, using various techniques and resources.
Modern metal detectors use Target Identification Indicators (VDI) to indicate the type of metal beneath the ground. Each manufacturer uses a different set of target ID numbers, making it essential to understand how to interpret them accurately. Along with VDI readings, identifying metal detecting finds requires a combination of reference catalogs, appearance, magnet, fracture tests, and research from professional archaeologists, museums, and reference books.
This article will outline the basics of metal detecting and provide an in-depth guide to identifying common finds, such as coins and relics, while discussing valuable finds made by amateur detectorists and recommending useful reference books to aid identification.
- Metal detectors use Target Identification Indicator (VDI) to indicate the type of metal underneath the ground, and each manufacturer uses a different set of target ID numbers.
- Identifying coins, relics, jewelry, and other finds requires examining their denomination, date, shape, size, color, image, inscriptions, type, culture, maker, hallmark, material, gemstones, and motifs, and using reference catalogs or seeking help from professional archaeologists or museum curators.
- Appearance, magnet, and fracture tests are common ways to identify metals, with ferrous metals containing iron and being magnetic, and non-ferrous metals being non-magnetic and more valuable.
- Research, such as deciphering markings on antique bottles or head stamps on ammunition, consulting local museums, archaeologists, forums, and reference books, and using machines to identify objects accurately, may be necessary to identify specific finds and their value.
Metal Detecting Basics
Metal detecting basics involve using Target Identification Indicators (VDI) to identify the type of metal underneath the ground accurately. These indicators come in the form of a numerical scale, with each manufacturer using a different set of target ID numbers. The VDI allows detectorists to differentiate between different types of metal, such as iron, copper, silver, and gold. This is important because different metals have different values, and some may be more desirable than others.
Choosing a metal detector is an important first step for beginners. It is important to consider factors such as budget, experience level, and the type of metal detecting you plan to do. There are many different types of metal detectors available, ranging from basic models designed for beginners to more advanced models for experienced detectorists.
Tips for beginners include starting with a basic metal detector, practicing in various environments, and familiarizing oneself with the VDI system to identify targets accurately. With practice and experience, metal detecting can become a rewarding and enjoyable hobby.
Identifying Common Finds
When searching with a metal detector, it is crucial to analyze the characteristics of coins, relics, and jewelry to determine their type, age, and value. Techniques for identifying metal detecting finds include examining the item’s shape, size, color, image, inscriptions, and other distinguishing features.
For coins, it is important to search for denominations, date, and other details that can be cross-referenced with reference catalogs. For relics, determining the age, authenticity, type, culture, and maker can be difficult, and it may be necessary to consult with a professional archaeologist or museum curator for assistance. When identifying jewelry, it is important to examine its type, hallmark, material, gemstones, motifs, and other characteristics.
Hallmarks can provide valuable information regarding the item’s origin and age.
Appearance, magnet, and fracture tests are common ways to identify metals. Ferrous metals contain iron and are magnetic, while non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic and often more valuable.
Tools for identifying metal detecting finds include today’s metal detectors which use a Target Identification Indicator (VDI) to indicate the type of metal underneath the ground. Each manufacturer uses a different set of target ID numbers, and air tests can help create a VDI chart. Machines are also available to help identify objects accurately.
However, some finds may require research, and local museums, archaeologists, forums, and reference books can provide valuable assistance. The importance of professional assistance cannot be overstated, especially when identifying rare or valuable finds. When in doubt, it is always advisable to consult with a professional in the field.
Valuable Finds and Resources
Valuable finds and resources are important considerations for metal detectorists, as they can provide insight and guidance on identifying and valuing discovered items.
One of the most famous metal detecting discoveries is the Boot of Cortez gold nugget, found by amateur detectorists and valued at $1.85 million. This nugget is one of the largest ever found and is a testament to the potential of metal detecting as a lucrative hobby.
In addition to valuable finds, many resources are available to help metal detectorists identify rare and unique discoveries. Reference books such as ‘What to Do With Granddaddy’s Coins’ and ‘Whitman’s Official Red Book’ provide information on identifying old coins and their approximate values.
Other books, such as ‘American Military Belt Plates’ and ‘Insignia of Independence,’ identify buttons, belt buckles, and other accessories from American history. Additionally, local museums, archaeologists, forums, and online resources can further assist in identifying and valuing rare finds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any legal considerations when metal-detecting?
Metal detecting may require permits in certain areas, such as national parks or protected sites. Failure to obtain permits can result in legal consequences. It is important to research and comply with local laws and regulations before detecting.
How do you properly clean and preserve metal-detecting finds?
Cleaning techniques and preservation methods vary depending on the type of metal detecting find. It is important to identify rare finds before cleaning or preserving them. Consultation with experts and reference materials can ensure proper care and preservation.
What are some common mistakes beginners make when identifying their finds?
Beginners in metal detecting may make mistakes in identifying finds by assuming the type of metal and value without proper research. Consulting experts, using research resources, and seeking second opinions can help avoid these errors.
How do you determine the value of a metal-detecting find?
Factors affecting value of metal detecting finds include rarity, condition, historical significance, and market demand. Appraisal methods include consulting experts, reference books, online resources, and past sales data.
What are some lesser-known tools and techniques for identifying metal-detecting finds?
Overlooked techniques for identifying metal detecting finds include X-ray fluorescence analysis, micro-chemical analysis, and digital microscopy. These unique identification tools can provide detailed information about the composition and history of the object, aiding in its identification and value.