When Phil Anderson of Cherokee retired from 25 years of working at Tyson's in December 2009, he was looking for something fun to do to fill his time. In the spring of 2010, the Aurelia High School graduate (Class of '66) purchased a metal detector, and soon discovered that he had found the entertaining hobby he was seeking.
Anderson said the biggest amount he has ever recovered in one outing was $16 worth of quarters at a school ballpark (not Cherokee). His machine removes one plug of ground at a time, and his biggest haul from one plug was nine quarters. By the way, he carefully replaces the turf he removes, so you'd never know he's been there.
Anderson estimates that he's usually away from home for 3-4 hours when he's out looking for coins, and his wife Dianne encourages his hobby because he really enjoys it. This is the second marriage for both Phil and Dianne. Phil has two children from his first marriage, Dianne has three from hers, and together they have 12 grandchildren.
Phil said that most of the money he finds is pretty much black when he uncovers them from the ground, but he has found that using a wire buffer on his bench grinder has enabled him to restored the coin to a presentable (and redeemable) condition.
Last year, Anderson said he collected 717 coins from spring to fall, and this year he took two jars of coins to North Star Community Credit Union to be counted after our meeting, and he reported back that he had turned in 1,617 coins - 632 quarters, 433 dimes, 33 nickels and 519 pennies, including a 1924 wheat penny - the oldest coin he's found to date. Anderson said that the penny is only worth about 5 cents, however, so he wasn't real excited about it. Of course, searching for a buried treasure really isn't his goal.
His 2011 findings came to a grand total of $208.14. Not a lot of money - especially considering the time he spent finding and restoring it - but as they say in the Mastercard commercials, the time he spent enjoying his new hobby was "priceless."