To anyone that has spent some time with a metal detector, working a beach, lawn, or old foundation, this concept seems patently ridiculous. Even to say that most good finds are buried deeply is inaccurate, as my acquaintances and I have located our best finds at an average depth of two to four inches. One particular day, at an old foundation in the California foothills, I stumbled upon an area full
of artifacts located just under the surface. After three hours of hunting, I had found several belt buckles, a few pieces of silverware, and two coins dating to the turn of the century. Not one item in that area was recovered at a depth of greater than five inches, and the majority of the items, including the coins, were found between one and four inches deep. I know common sense seems to say that, the longer an item is sitting in the ground, the deeper it will be, but in many instances this simply isn’t the case. I personally have found older coins at depths of less than an inch. In fact, one of the first old coins I recovered was actually picked up from the surface of an old gravel road in Sutter Creek, California. On that warm
summer morning, I was hunting near an old winery when I decided it was time to take a short break. Crossing l the gravel road as I walked towards my car, I continued casually to swing 1 my detector’s search coil, not really expecting to get a signal. When my I detector beeped, I bent over and noticed a small, circular piece of battered metal. After close inspection, I was amazed to discover‘ that this mutilated metal disc, lying on the surface of the road, was in reality a 1902 Barber nickel. From the condition of the coin, it appeared that the nickel had actually been lying on the surface of the gravel road since its loss in the early 1903!
On many occasions, I’ve managed to repeat this type of find, working old foundations in areas where the soil was particularly rocky and pulling up older coins that, typically, were less than an inch under the surface. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it said, but it is true coins don’t sink.