Metal Detecting Coin Pocket Spills!

Metal Detecting Coin Pocket Spills!

Yesterday afternoon I snuck away long enough to get permission to detect a single yard.   I detected about 2 hours without much luck.  As I was heading back to the truck, I hit a deep dime signal.  The result is pictured above, my best pocket spill recovery in 32 years of detecting.  Four barber dimes and an Indian cent, all in a single hole.   My detecting session went from bust to BAM! in just a few minutes.

I define a pocket spill as a group of coins that were likely lost at the same time.   Usually they are in the same date range and are in a small area.    Someone could have been mowing their yard with a hole in their pocket.    The pocket spill is fairly rare, as, unlike loss of a single coin,  you figure someone would miss losing multiple coins and realize where they probably lost them.

A pocket spill is a rare treat for the coin-shooter, and any other sane detectorist.   One hole and finds just keep jumping out of it!   Take your time and soak it in, because it rarely gets any better than this!

We’ve dug a few pocket spills over the last few years.  Here are a few recommended guidelines to make sure you realize you are on a possible pocket spill and get all of it.

Note:  The same principles apply to what I call “Bullet Spills”, which is where a soldier dropped several bullets in the same spot.   In middle Tennessee, we find way more bullet spills than we do pocket spills of coins.


My first pocket spill many years ago was in a filled in hole from another detectorist.  He recovered a single coin (I guess) and just walked away.  I know he didn’t rescan his hole because these coins were all very shallow and obvious.    As hard as it is to get permission and recover good finds, you don’t want to walk away from multiple keepers at one time!   When I find a good target, whether it is a wheat or a silver coin, I do a “pocket spill check”, carefully scanning with my detector for any sign of additional targets.   By habit, we are accustomed to finding one good find in a hole, so it is easy to just grab it and cover the hole and move on.


After you find a second coin, it is “on like a chicken bone” (whatever that means).   You want to clear the area of everything – good and bad.   Iron or trash could be hiding or masking part of the spill.   Coins could be on their side and give very unstable and iffy signals, especially on deep spills.   In this instance, it is totally worth digging everything from the hole or small area.


Coins like nickels, early Indian cents and gold coins that might remain in the hole/small area can ring very weak.     You don’t want to discriminate out part of the pocket spill, so just turn the discrimination off until you are done clearing all targets.


If your coin spill is extremely deep, dig a few extra inches in the bottom of the hole after you think you have everything.   Some of the coins may be deeper than your detector can reach.  Use your pinpointer in the bottom of the hole and dig anything else out.  You might get an extra coin or three out of it.


After you feel you have recovered most or all of the spill, turn the sensitivity all the way up on your detector and hit the area at different angles – slow and low.   Once you are convinced nothing is there, try again.  Assume something is still there and work to find it.  It is so easy to walk away, after all, as exciting as the pocket spill is.

After you are done, restore the settings you have chosen for the hunt and continue.

That Indian is soaking in Olive Oil right now!

That Indian is soaking in Olive Oil right now!


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