Long before metal detectors were commercial, there were coin shooters. I personally, found several thousand coins in the water, on the land and buried benefit the soil without the aid of an electronic instrument. Coin shooting came naturally for me as a boy living in an inner-city housing complex with little money ever handed out. I was always looking for money. Fifty cents was good for a Saturday at the movie theater. Twenty-five cents paid for a double-header movie plus cartoons and the other quarter would purchase popcorn, candy bar, pretzels and a soda. Coin shooting then associated of finding soda bottles and selling them for two cents each as well as finding coins. Coin shooters then had to know where to look just as much as a treasure finder today equipped with a metal detector.
My favorite ways of coin shooting as a youngster in the mid 1950's involved knowing where children and adults both lost their change. I would coin-shoot the large paved parking lot in our government housing project every day. I probably averaged finding fifty cents (mostly pennies) a week from adults losing change, getting in and out of cars. An incidental dollar bill would show up too. The children playing on playground equipment also lost change. Monkey bars, jungle gyms and swing sets all were productive areas. However, my biggest finds came from water-related ventures.
Water has always been a treasure-finders paradise. In Little Page Terrace, our residential complex, we had a large fountain with a wading area. Every afternoon of the hot summer time, masses of children and older youngsters would show up to get a reprieve from the sweltering heat. I have such fond memories of playing in that fountain, and as a coin shooter, I was always finding other's lost change. My favorite and most productive coin finds came from the storm drains being cleaned after a major storm had filled them with debris. The housing authority would have a group of men clean out the system and haul off larger thrash items and leave a large pile of dirt. I got real excited when I saw this take place, for I found lots of silver dimes and quarters by scrapping through that dirt. I was not a coin collector at that age, but remember finding many Standing Liberty quarters and spent them without knowing what I had. The same was true for Indian Head cents and I sent them along with all the Wheats I dug-up. I wonder about the very valuable coins I may have spent so I could go to the movies or buy a soda and a candy bar.
Treasure is under our feet. I am a very proud coin shooter and with metal detectors, beginning in 1969, I have dug-up 152,432 coins worth more than $ 100,000.00. These coins from more than 30 countries and dating back over 2,000 years, are a part of a treasure-finding mindset that started in my childhood. In part two of this article, I will share both having that mindset and techniques that will turn treasure hunters into treasure finders. Here's to "diggin it".