Pre-decimal coins often bring a lot more excitement than the modern variety. Not much compares to that feeling of seeing the coin for the first time, realising what you have found and then the mad rub to uncover the date.
In Australia pre-decimal is any coin dated before 1966. I won’t go into detail about what coins you can find as this is not the point of the article.
Some of the pre-dec coins aren’t that hard to find. especially the big pennies and half pennies.
Its those little three pence pieces that I find the hardest to locate, especially when they are in amongst trash. Quite a few times i have had to dig through a few ring pulls and other assorted junk to get that little silver coin in hand. Sometimes you close to giving up on the hole when the pin pointer just faintly sounds and encourages to dig just another inch or 2.
Finding pre-dec coins is more about research than actually swinging your detector.
You need to be in the right place to start with or its going to be a long and frustrating day. So I spend quite a bit of time researching and stalking different areas.
If you live in large cities then you have loads of places to look and loads of history to increase your chances of finding the oldest coins.
For those of us that live in smaller rural communities we have less than 150 years of history, so you need to dig a little harder on the research side.
My prime research targets are as follows:
There are so many old military sites around you will be very surprised when you actually start to look into your area. Some places had small camps others had massive ones. Its not hard to find the local history and I can guarantee that a trip to the local museum, library or historical society will uncover locations you never new existed.
I have gained some good information from the local tourist centers as the people that work these are often long term residents and love to talk about the history of the town.
So look around your area for those military camps and they can be a great place to not only find the pre-dec coins, but some awesome military relics as well.
Old house sites:
There are vacant blocks everywhere, and quite often they had a house or residence of some description located there at some stage.
Often there are giveaway’s like a path that leads nowhere, or a small retained section of the block with really old stone. Sometimes its just a few poles from a tank stand, or even the remains of the fire place.
One awesome giveaway that a house was there is some sort of man made structure in the back of the block. like a garden edge or even some stuff hanging from the trees.
Keep a look out as your driving around the area and look for tell take signs of previous habitation. Once you start looking and get used to what your looking for, you can scan a block of land as your drive past at 60 k’s an hour enough to know if its worth a closer look.
Historical photos are also excellent sources of info and if your lucky enough to get some aerial photography then a little study can yield a lot.
Old Railway sites:
So simple to locate with maps and most towns have a railway buff or a big section about it in the library. Many of the sites are on private land now, permission is not hard to obtain and they can be very lucrative, though somewhat “trashy”.
Lastly a very broad one, Anywhere people gathered, HINT Its probably different than today.
I’ll give examples by way of explanation as that’s probably easiest.
I found out that there was an old Tidal Rock pool right in the middle of town. You can still see some of the pool but not much. From this spot I have found many pre-dec coins, Dozens of sinkers, spendables, jewelry and other interesting artifacts.
In fact every time we have a good run through tide, the bank reveals even more treasure. Its become a great place to go that’s close to home and also a good fishing spot for flathead and whiting.
Love this spot and to be honest when I first went there i was hoping for Spendable coins from the fisherman and swimmers, I never expected to get cool pre-dec coins so often from here. Now the coins are mostly FLOGGED and take some serious cleaning, but that adds to the suspense of dating the coin and enjoy that as much as locating them.
Here is another example;
Now when we have fireworks in the town a lot of people go up on top of the hill that overlooks the beach to take in the action.
By Looking at some old photo’s it was realised that this has been a spot for locals to gather for just about as long as the town has been here. The hill has been excavated quite a bit and the oldest area’s are gone, BUT there is still a lot of real estate there and when the ground softens, its a place I plan to spend some time.
Where you look will depend on your interests and your area’s history. many of the best places are on private land so seeking permission is a must.
With permission you can hunt there stress free and really take a good look around. Treat the area right and each permission area can be very lucrative to yourself and your detecting buddies.
Don’t forget to that he owner might be interested in your finds so show them what you have located. You never know what leads and other sites you might gain access to just by being a friendly and courteous person.
Do your research, gain your permissions and grow your pre-decimal hoard.
You’ll find lots of other cool stuff along the way and if your lucky enough spendable’s to cover the batteries and some lunch. If you super lucky then that gold sovereign might just become a reality….
Happy detecting all.
Here are some pre-dec finds of mine. Nothing really special…..YET.