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If you are a new metal detector hobbyist, you may be excited to get out there and find some treasures! Before you do, there are a few important things to figure out. You want to make sure your metal detecting is done legally so you don't run into any problems. You'll also need to know how to determine the value of your finds, and what to do with them later.
Sometimes, finders are not keepers
In 2009, a man in Scotland was using a metal detector in a field and found four gold necklaces dating back to the Iron Age. The necklaces ended up being worth $2 million. Can you imagine? Unfortunately, it was determined that the relics were treasure troves and belonged to the Crown. However, the man was compensated for his findings.
Know the laws & obtain permits & permission when necessary
Before you set out with your metal detector, it's important to know the laws that are involved. The federal government has regulations against using metal detectors in parks, forests, and public property. Also, each state has laws regarding scavenging with using metal detectors. Some municipalities do, as well. It's a good idea to speak with a general attorney in your area to find out the specific laws you need to abide by.
In some places, you'll need to have a permit from the local authorities or from your county permit office. Typically, these permits have a nominal fee. If a permit is required, you'll need to keep it with you when you look for metals, similar to how you would keep a fishing or hunting license with you.
If you want to look for metal on personal property or commercially-owned property, you'll need to ask the property owner for permission. You can find out who owns a property by asking the tax assessor at your county courthouse. All you'll need is the street address.
Detecting metal & taking notes
With all the legal aspects taken care of, you can then set out and find metal! It may take some time to get used to the various sounds your metal detector makes when it finds metal. There's no doubt that you'll pull up a lot of nails and soda pop can tabs in your quest. Be patient. You'll soon discover some coins, jewelry or other pieces of metal.
To identify the metal while out in the field can be challenging to a novice. Until you get more comfortable you're your abilities, put every piece of metal you find in your bag to examine later. Use a pen and paper to take notes of each piece you find and the sound that your metal detector made when it found each piece.
Caution: Always keep safety in mind. Be careful when digging and pulling up metal. You never know what you might find, including live ammo.
Take the metal to a smelter to determine the value
Don't take the metal you find to a pawn broker, even if you find jewelry. They may not be fair in their payment, especially if the pieces are not in good condition. Instead, find a smelter or precious metal refiner. These professionals can take a look at your findings and determine if they are worth anything.
Typically, they will determine the value based on the type, weight, and quality of the precious metal. They are not concerned with the condition that the metal is in because they can melt it down and refine it to separate the precious metals within each piece. For example, a tangled gold necklace with broken links can be melted down and transformed into a nice ring. Hopefully, you'll find metal that will make your endeavors worthwhile.