The first method that I will be going over is called sifting.
To begin sifting all you really need is a sifting pan and a body of water, with these things you are all set. There are obviously good areas to sift and bad areas to sift, but when you are just trying to get the hang of it you can start anywhere. Rivers that have been used as major trade routes would be your best bet, rivers such the Ohio river, Mississippi river, or the Rio Grande river would be some of the best choices.
The reason that you want to choose rivers that have been used as trade routes is because they would be the most likely to have old coins in the water. The old coins would have ended up in the water by falling off the boats or otherwise being dropped into the water. Other than rivers, the oceans would also be a great choice for sifting, and this is for the same reasons as the rivers.
The second method that I will be going over is diving.
Once again sticking with the water theme I will be going over diving, and diving will take a little bit more equipment, but with that said you will be finding coins that otherwise would never be found. With just a quick Google search you can read all the articles about people finding valuable coins underwater, and while the oceans coasts might now be available to all of us, you can still go diving. The most accessible option to all of us land locked people would be for you to try diving in the rivers nearest to your home.
I must issue a word of caution just due to how dangerous this type of exploration can be to the inexperienced. If you want to give it a try then I suggest that you find a local dive instructor and get some formal lessons in the hobby. Once you have this training/equipment then I would highly recommend the rivers that I listed above for exploration. This type of searching will net you more than sifting just due to how hidden the coins will be from normal exploration.
The third method that I will be going over is called roll hunting.
This method doens’t actually require any type of exploration, all you have to do is go to your local band and ask them if you can buy some rolls of coins. When they give you these rolls you will have a chance that there are very rare coins caught in the mix, such as half-dollars, silver-dollars, and even gold-dollars too. This is one of the ways that won’t put you out any money either since it will a 1:1 transfer of currency.
The forth method that I will be going over is using a change machine.
This one is a hail mary pass, so what you do is you go to your local laundry mat, find a change machine (Where you put a dollar in and it gives you 4 quaters) and take everything that is has. Just like in method 3 you won’t be out any money using this method, so there is no reason not to give it a shot. If the machine keeps returning newly minted coins then go and find a different one, and hopefully one giving older coins.
The fifth and final method that I will be going over involves flea markets.
There are always hidden gems at flea markets, and finding old coins that you could collect is no expectation to that universal rule. You might be able to find people selling them for their full value to collectors or you could find people selling them really cheap (These people often don’t know the true value that the coins have). Maybe just help to inform these people to the true value of the coins before you buy them, this is just so that you don’t unknowingly scam them.
These are just some ways of how to find old coins without a metal detector and that use two very different approaches to getting them, one being very adventures and the other being more of a buyer seller situation.