Winter time is here! Everybody is dealing with the cold weather and some of us have the extra snow to deal with. Well, where I go detecting, like the parks, schools and the farm fields, each location is frozen. I broke my old shovel this past weekend. The shovel handle was wooden but broke at the head. I got two years of use out of it, but the frozen cornfield won that battle. Buying a standard detecting shovel is the way to go. Plenty of detectorists call it quits during this time of year. Again, depending on which part of the country you live in, your time frame will vary. In the winter I start going detecting in the woods looking for old foundations and cellar holes. The wooded area provides insulation such as leaves, pine needles, etc., to prevent the ground from freezing.
This past weekend I went detecting with some friends in North East Massachusetts. The weather conditions where cold when we started in the morning, around the low twenties, but warmed up to the high thirties. Everybody knows to dress in layers to stay warm but the key is weather proof, insulated boots and some good gloves that are not too thick. My friend Bernie picked out a nice patch of woods with a few cellar holes. We found some old and new silver, an Indian head, a silver spoon and musket balls.
The two best finds of the day were a Canada Montreal UN Sou 1837, which I did not clean. Instead I use the oils from my hand and rub it for an hour or so. I find this technique works well for me.I took the picture after the rub, although I should have done a before and after photo of it. The oldest coin found that day was a half of a Wood’s Hibernia, Ireland 1722-1724. It was in rough shape.
Canada experienced a shortage of smaller coins in the first half of the 19th century, therefore, a series of more attractive, copper tokens known as “bouquet sous” became popular. That is what the Montreal coin is. On the front side of the coin you will see thistles, shamrocks, a bouquet of roses and wheat. On the reverse, you can see the denomination. When you see the words “Un Sou”, that means “half penny”. The half of the Wood’s Hibernia Half Penny that was named after William Wood, who owned quite a few tin and copper mines since he hoped to make profits producing coins for Ireland as well as America.
They were used extensively throughout Ireland during the time period and in the American colonies during immigration. During this period, in Ireland, they were used mostly by the lower class citizens. Wood’s Hibernia coins succeeded because they met the American Colonists’ need for sufficient coinage geared towards
their needs of the time. The supply of coppers was very limited, so this helped society flourish. Based on information from IrishCoinage.com, there are also proof strikings in both copper and silver and there are a number of patterns which are all rare.
Great coins like the ones I’ve described above can be found in any season. If you do plan on going detecting in winter, I have a few tips for you. Head for higher ground where there is less moisture and more sun exposure. With less snow and frost it’s easier to dig, but be in tune with your machine as it may give false signals if the temperature drops too low. Wearing knee pads is a must. Also, many times after breaking through the permafrost, which in the woods should only be an inch or two, digging should be quite manageable. Lastly, snow is moisture so it helps with conductivity which may increase your depth while detecting.
Like any season, metal detecting in the winter can be fun. It’s all about prepping your equipment and preparing for the weather. Once you find areas that will work better, you have a high chance of finding great things just like I did. I can’t explain the feeling of joy that comes from holding these coins in my hand! You might feel like quitting or not going out detecting at all because of the snow, but I recommend at least going once or twice. You could be surprised at the results.
Resources: irishcoinage.com, coinsite.com, coins.nd.edu, coinsandcanada.com, and numismatics.org
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