For year, metal detectorists have been fighting the image many have of us as mercenaries out to dig up any profit we can, even if it means ransacking historical sites and destroying potentially relevant items in the process.
But I’ve met a lot of detectorists over the years and I’ve only met very few who were like that.That type of detectorist is easy to spot and I quickly walk away from them when I do run into them. I, and many other detectorists, don’t understand this type at all. The ones who place all the emphasis on earning money and less on the joy of discovery.
One of my favorite parts about metal detecting is knowing that I just helped uncover some little bit of history that had been lost.
I’ve never sold any of my finds, despite having some unsolicited offers, and I know I’m not alone when it comes to hanging on to my treasures, even when they aren’t really treasures at all. Do I care about the value of the items I find? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I still check the years of the wheat pennies I find to see if I’ve happened to stumble across any rare and potentially valuable year.
What would happen if I found a rare one worth thousands of dollars? I would sell it in a heartbeat or at least stick it in a safe deposit box somewhere so it wasn’t just lying around my house where I could lose it.
There’s nothing wrong with selling your items as long as you’ve obtained them legally. But when I’ve found items with any identifying marks on them, like class rings, I’ve always done my best to return them to the original owner or a surviving relative. It takes some detective work, but the payoff I get from returning a long-lost item means more to me than the money I could have received for it.
If you are looking to sell your items, there are a lot of places you can check out when you’ve found something you think could fetch a pretty penny.
If you’ve found old, intact bottles, you can pretty much hit up any antique store you find. Make sure to do your research first on any identifying marks on the bottle that will help you determine an era and company name of the bottle. You also don’t want to take the first offer you get. Make sure you shop around.
With coins, it’s best to take it to a reputable expert. There are lots of websites you can check to find out how valuable a coin is depending upon its condition. Don’t clean it before it is appraised – that can dramatically decrease the value if it is done incorrectly.
Scrap metal can be valuable too. I know a detector who takes all his junk in once it becomes a heavy load. He walks away with a nice pay day afterward.
Jewelry can be tricky. You’re sometimes better off taking in the metal part of the jewelry and selling it for melt value. The stones can be sold separately after being appraised.
Whether you’re a treasure hoarder who never intends to sell any of his finds or you’ve entered the hobby of metal detecting hoping to pay off the stack of bills you have, you’ll find the best way to increase your chances of finding anything good is to dig more holes. While luck certainly factors into discoveries, nothing trumps research and persistence.
If you keep digging holes, eventually you’ll make a great find. What you do with it after that is completely up to you.