Tips for Bottle Digging with a Metal Detector

Screen shots of a google images search for "bottle digging" show what a big part of the bottle collecting hobby digging is.

From our Inbox -- The nice folks at sent along this article about using metal detectors to help in bottle digging. Besides equipment, their site has books and videos about digging, and more articles about treasure hunting.

Getting the Most out of Bottle Digging with a Metal Detector

by Michael Bernzweig

Collecting and digging old bottles is a pass-time for a growing number of enthusiasts around the world. Many of these enthusiasts combe the hobby of metal detecting with their passion for bottle collecting. It is a fact that many bottle diggers may not initially think of using a metal detector on their digs. And how can you find bottles with a metal detector anyways you might be thinking?
Where to begin digging?

Truth be told, a metal detector is a useful tool when it comes to bottle hunting. The reason for this is that it provides additional assistance in locating the best places to get started digging on a new site. Some of the top places to find antique bottles include battle sites, old farms, camp sites and dump sites. Many of these sites contain lots of antique bottles waiting to be found as you are dump digging. Once you have zeroed in on the dump site on the property with your metal detector, the digging begins.

Fortunately for the owner of a relic hunting metal detector, besides containing bottles, many of these dump sites contain an enormous quantity of metallic trash. Some common items include farm equipment parts, historic buckles, buttons, weapons, barrel hoops, jar lids and tin cans. The best relic metal detectors contain a lower frequency which easily locates copper brass and other lower conductivity metals.

Because you seldom dig up antique bottles without finding metal relics, you can use the relic hunting metal detector to map out the dump site and show you the main areas where you should start excavating. After finding the edges of the dump site, you can lay the metal detector to the side and use your digging equipment to eliminate areas that are most likely to contain bottles.

Approaching a New Site

Setting up a search grid is an effective technique when approaching any new site. Dig holes on all four sides of the dump location and one in the middle. You can then excavate these test holes with a shovel and other tools. By digging test holes, you can date the dump, which prevents you from excavating all day and discovering that the dump is not as old as you had hoped.

Tools of the Trade

Along with a relic hunting metal detector, one of the best and most popular accessories that you will want in your arsenal is a hand-held pinpointing metal detector. A popular model is the Garrett Pro-Pointer pinpointing device. This relic hunting and dump digging accessory is a must have for any serious enthusiasts. This device is commonly used alongside a full metal detector to help you isolate the target in the hole while digging. This unit not only alerts you with an audio signal, but also with vibration.

Final Thoughts

By using a metal detector to help locate your targeted dump digging area, you can quickly locate the dump site on a new dig. You will save valuable time and resources as well. You will find that a metal detector makes your bottle hunting both more enjoyable and hopefully more lucrative. 

Michael Bernzweig manages in Southborough, MA. He has written extensively on the subject of metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He has traveled world-wide in his pursuit of educating, exploring and advising others in the proper use of metal detectors.

Findlay Antique Bottle Club
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