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Whether you played with them yourself, or you simply enjoy the quality and craftsmanship of
years gone past antique toys are a lot of fun! They were simple yet, they fed your imagination
and made for hours and hours of enjoyment. Antique toys are also something you just might be
able find with a metal detector. Here to tell us more about how metal detectors can be used to
unearth long, lost antique toys is Daniel Bernzweig of MetalDetector.com.
Finding antique toys with your metal detector is easy in that most toys made prior to the 1950s
were made of some type of metal. Steel, cast iron, tin, and even lead for a time were all used to
make antique toys throughout our recent history. Wood was also a popular material used for
toy construction during these times, but often, parts like wheel axles, bolts, and other
accessories were made of metal. Given this, these toys are prime targets for today’s metal
Although they’re made of the right material, actually finding antique toys with your metal
detector is much less common than unearthing say, coins, or a piece of jewelry. These other
items were lost much more frequently than toys and by more people. However, if you look in
the right places and do your research you may just surprise yourself! Some ideas to get you
started include current and former parks and schools as well as old homesites.
Once you decide on a site where you have permission to go metal detecting, you’ll want to set
up your machine. A good relic hunting metal detector will help you easily target metal toys.
Remember, some metal toys were quite small, like toy soldiers for example. A medium search
coil will usually be what you want for this type of metal detecting so you can find all the small as
well as the larger toys. Also, a machine with a lower frequency may be particularly helpful in
identifying iron and steel toys. Although not necessary, a pair of metal detecting headphones
are quite useful when hunting antique toys in order to be sure you’re hearing even the deepest
In addition to these items you’ll also want to take a metal detecting shovel with you. These
shovels are compact, lightweight and easy to carry. You may consider a digging knife and a
pinpointing probe to help you zero in on your target as well. While these last two items aren’t
absolutely necessary, they’re helpful when hunting for relics like toys to help prevent you from
damaging the item when digging it up. You can never be sure exactly what’s under that ground
and the more you’re able to determine where you should dig in relation to the target the better
off your find will be in the end.
Now that you’ve got all your equipment and have chosen your destination, you’re ready to head
out and find some antique toys with your metal detector. Keep your ears open and dig all the
targets you can with care. You may just find a tin truck worth upwards of $1,000 or a cast iron
airplane – one of the most rare, and sought after antique metal toys around.
About the author: Daniel Bernzweig manages MetalDetector.com in Southborough, MA. He has written
on the subject of treasure hunting and metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He enjoys traveling with his
metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.