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Few and Farthing Between

Posted by on January 31, 2017
Obverse of King Charles II farthing

Obverse (front) of King Charles II farthing, 1672-1679. Notice the left-facing bust.

Some fields continue to provide great artifacts no matter how many times you scour them. This can be due to a host of factors: an expansive acreage that can never be precisely searched, changing ground conditions (e.g., erosion due to rain), the churn of the plow, etc., etc. So, it was no surprise to me that a recent visit to some South Jersey fields—call them my “go to” fields for the last 2 years—yielded 2 great artifacts passed over on previous visits.

Working a small area near a century’s old farmer’s path, I got a perfect-sounding 80 reading on my detector. In these fields, which rarely contain junk other than some random can shards, when a good signal is encountered, it’s always something old and noteworthy. Digging down no more than 6 inches, I excavated a smaller copper coin (“smaller” meaning not the typical large cent of colonial and post-colonial eras). After cleaning the coin, I could make out a faint image of a left-facing bust and an even clearer image on the reverse of Lady Britannia. Typically, these 2 images taken together mean the ubiquitous mid-1700s King George II copper (in this case, seemingly a farthing, due to its smaller size). However, further research led me to focus on the close proximity of Ms. Britannia’s arm to her head; this provided the indisputable verdict that what I had found was a Charles II farthing. Though no date could be clearly identified, these coins were minted between 1672-1679. This represented my 2nd 1600s coin and my 1st King Charles.

Obverse of King Charles II farthing

Obverse (front) of King Charles II farthing, 1672-1679. Notice the left-facing bust.

Reverse of King Charles II farthing

Reverse of King Charles II farthing. Lady Britannia is seen holding an olive branch. The proximity of her upstretched arm to her head was the determining factor in the ID of this coin.

My day wasn’t done yet. Soon after, in the same vicinity, I got a loud, fast-repeatable 78 on my detector—a fast-repeatable signal is indicative of an item very close to (if not on) the surface. My handheld pinpointer was all I needed to determine its precise location. Scraping away a small clump of dirt, I could see a tiny, round object, which I first mistakenly thought to be a small flat button (“cuff button”). Further field cleaning revealed the very tarnished but unmistakable hue of silver. I was instantly excited. I could make out the bust of Lady Liberty and the year 1830. It was a capped bust half dime. I had previously found a seated half dime, but never the capped bust variety. The latter is a rarer find and I was glad to have it.

1830 capped bust half dime

1830 capped bust half dime. This is a silver coin, though it shows much tarnish from years of being buried.

Though the signals at my go-to fields are getting more and more scarce, I still have excitement when setting out on them, knowing more quality finds could be waiting if I am willing to spend a few hours patiently looking.

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