Rowe Column: Digging for gold can pay off |

Rowe Column: Digging for gold can pay off

Allen Rowe

In the last few years, we have seen a trend of resourceful people out digging. We have seen an increase in miners, metal detectors, pickers, and people just digging through their possessions for something to sell. This trend has become so big that there is even a host of reality (or reality-based) shows about such activities. All of these popular activities are geared toward adding cash to the bottom line.

Gold mining is the purest form of digging. In tougher times or in times of higher gold prices, the number of people seeking gold climbs. For those that have been lucky enough to find a great place to work the ground, the rewards have been ample in the last few years. We have regulars who bring in a few ounces a week, some who bring in an occasional piece and a lucky few who have brought in hundreds of ounces. But even with high gold prices, digging for gold is nearly always hard work and we still have people bringing in the ever easier to find fool’s gold (iron pyrite).

Metal detecting is another popular way to work the ground for hidden treasures. Some seek gold in the form of nuggets. Others seek lost relics from the past. Those who seek things like coins have to get lucky in two ways.

Finding a coin is no easy task, but finding one that is worth good money is even tougher. The coin had to have been rare when it was lost and then it had to survive in decent shape. Fortunately for those hunting in our area, they can sometimes score big. The main reason is our proximity to the Carson City mint. Many of these coins are rare, and when found even in low grade can be worth good money. We have regularly paid into the hundreds and even thousands for coins dug in this area. The best in the last few years was a $20 gold coin for which we paid $14,000.

It was one of 12 coins found in a small hoard, but it was worth nearly as much as all of the others combined. Remember, if you find a coin, do not clean it. In that same hoard of coins, one that was worth $2,000 would have been worth 10 times as much had the finder not wiped away the dirt. That’s unfortunate but common, as the urge to get a better look usually leads to wiping away a little dirt and a lot of value.

Thirdly, there are those who dig through either their own possessions or go hunting at places like garage sales for things to sell. The most popular has been gold jewelry. Countless times, we have seen a small handful of gold turn into thousands of dollars. And, every week we have someone who brings in an item they picked at a garage sale. Usually a few-dollar investment turns into a few hundred. Picking gold jewelry or sterling silver flatware seems to be the most lucrative. Of course, we also see those who paid a few dollars for something that was plated and not really worth anything.

Whether you are digging in the ground for gold, hunting lost treasures with a metal detector or just digging through old possessions, finding a way to make cash is still out there. Happy hunting.

• Allen Rowe is the owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.