I was going through Facebook the other day and came across someone’s theory that coins get buried due to organic matter such as leafs, plants and grass breaking down and over time covering them up. I on the other hand strongly believe that things tend to sink in the ground. After many exchanges back and forth we agreed to disagree. Since then I’ve been doing some research and I have not been able to find any definitive proof of how our coins and relics end up in the ground rather than on top.
Organic Matter Theory
Personally I believe this theory is very simple to dismiss. If organic matter builds up at such a rate that a coin can be buried in the ground a few inches in just a few years then why aren’t houses that are two hundred years old and much older buried under all of this organic material? Some would suggest because lawns are manicured well isn’t mowing the lawn and leaving your clipping adding to that organic material? What about leaves that fall? Most people who live in the country do not bag their clipping nor do they rake theirs leafs yet I’ve never seen an old house that is buried.
I installed a fence twenty years ago that the back of it is just feet away from a creek that is lined with trees. The chain link was roughly a quarter of an inch from touching the ground back then and amazingly it still is even though the grass gets cut, leafs pile up and never get hauled away, at most they get cut up with the mower yet that chain link is still not touching the ground.
Metal detecting for over 20 years I have done my fair share of metal detecting in the woods. On many occasions I have found coins and relics just below the surface. I remember a hunt where I found 11 silver coins at an old boy scout camp in one day. Not one of those coins was over 2 inches deep. One quarter from the 1930’s I literally scraped my foot across the ground and there it was. Organic matter is going to build up in the woods much quicker than anywhere else I imagine so if these coins were at least lost by the 1950’s shouldn’t they be buried really deep if people are suggesting modern clad is covered up by grass clipping up to a few inches in just a few years? So if I think coins and relics sink then why isn’t it happening as much in wooded areas? I believe this is because of the roots from trees and vegetation keeping the coins closer to the surface.
The Sinking Theory
My opinion is coins literally sink in the ground just like many other things do. There is a huge business to fix sinking foundations. Some would say “it’s caused from foundations settling” well what causes them to settle? Water, freezing, thawing and the ground shifting so they are literally sinking. I know of someone who just last year cleared out an old junk yard that went from about the 1940’s to early 1960’s. There were roughly 80 cars in it and there had never been any kind of flooding on the property yet some of those cars were buried up to a few feet! I was hunting a private property just two years back and took a break to go look at the old cemetery that is no longer taken care of by anyone other than the land owner who simply mows it. Walking around you will find headstones sinking into the ground at different depths. Some just a few inches while other several inches deep yet others seem perfectly fine. If that was from organic matter building up they should all be slightly buried and at the same level… at least that’s my opinion.
I have also noticed that in most cases things seem to only sink so far. A good example is a fairgrounds I used to hunt that I pulled out just over 40 silver coins over a 3 year period. They ranged from the 1830’s to the 1960’s although I believe I only found one silver Roosevelt. All of those coins were 6-8 inches deep. I found seated at 6 inches deep and Mercury dimes at 8 yet the clay layer was well beyond that. Although I do not have a real theory all I can guess is it has to have something to do with the ground freezing and thawing but that is just a guess.
I am very curious as to what others believe. I would appreciate others feedback and theories!