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Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: IDXMonster
Date: November 06, 2018 10:38PM
After Pryor Creek Joe was kind enough to air test a war nickel with the CTX and 17” coil and send me the video,I am again scratching my head. Even though it’s never happened to ME,it apparently indeed does happen! The numbers actually made it up to 12-34,which is obviously nowhere NEAR what would be expected from any nickel,war or not. If someone else has a war nickel that air tests really high,can you post the year and mint mark please? There conversation awhile ago about this and maybe the S minted ones were of a higher silver content....maybe there were ones that were PLATED instead of alloyed??....I don’t know. I’m looking for factual information here to solve a mystery,not more variables to deepen the mystery!
Thanks again Joe! We will(might) resolve this sooner or later(maybe never)....:smile:

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: PryorCreekJoe
Date: November 07, 2018 06:42AM
IDXMonster,

The War Nickel in the video is a 1945 D. I am not sure of the mint years and marks of the nickels that I sent to Steveg months ago. This phenomenon has been talked about for a couple of decades that I can recall. I have at the hobby since I got my first metal detector in 1969 and using the 3030 since 2012 and mostly just keep the data over the years in my mind. (since it is just a hobby) LOL I do wish that I had keep records over the years of all of the "strange" numbers and IDs that I have seen. One thing for sure is that I have seen far to many "anomalies" over the years and can say for certain that we will see many more in the future. LOL
Hopefully we can get the MINT to fess up on this War Nickel metallurgy content. Steveg did a ton of research and went way above and beyond trying to solve the mystery and only gain a small amount of ground on the issue. Hopefully the more we get involved we can get some answers. Some of us are kinda like bulldogs and once we sink our teeth into something we don't let go. The answer is out there, we just have to find the right key to unlock it. The biggest problem on finding the answer is that it is just a nickel. Had it been a silver coin, well then it would involve a lot more resources as that is messing with "real" money. LOL The nickel has always been considered just "milk money" as that is what school kids use to pay for their carton of milk. (in the big cities anyway) ha ha Tom Dankowski has written a lot about the lowly nickel in the past. Maybe we need to dredge up some of his musing on the subject. We just might stumble across and interesting tidbit there.

PCJ

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 23, 2018 10:00AM
Kevin,

I am attaching a spreadsheet, of a few war nickels, including three of PryorCreekJoe's "anomalous-reading" ones, that I had analyzed using XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) analysis. Please understand a couple a caveats -- 1.) the lab that did my analysis was NOT set up for "precious metal" analysis, as this purpose of this lab was geared toward analyzing rocks for oil exploration purposes). As such, they did not have the expertise to know the proper calibrations, nor the proper voltages to set the machine at, to optimally analyze the nickels -- particularly for silver content (the silver content was not even evaluated at all, as they had no knowledge of how to do so given that the calibrations and voltages they typically use); 2.) the numbers here, showing the XRF readings/PPM values obtained, are not "actual metal content measurements," but are instead to be used in a relative sense. For instance, if one nickel shows 80,000 PPM copper, and another 160,000 PPM copper, then it can be said that the latter has roughly twice the amount of copper as compared to the first. But, you can't use the numbers in an ABSOLUTE sense, i.e. that the coin actually has 80,000 PPM copper. XRF does not measure the actual metallic composition per se -- it's accuracy is entirely dependent upon those calibrations and voltages I mentioned, and again, this lab DID NOT know how to properly calibrate, or set voltage for, this type of sample/these types of metals.

But, with that said, please see the spreadsheet. I included in the spreadsheet the analysis of four war nickels, (including their dates, and mint marks). The four nickels include one "proper-reading" nickel (which I call the "reference" nickel), and three outliers. The XRF readings for several metals contained within the nickels are included (again, though, we had no way at this lab to analyze for silver, unfortunately). The metals included in the spreadsheet are Fe (iron), Ni (nickel), Cu (copper), Zn (zinc), Mn (manganese), and Al (aluminum).

Some interesting things to note are --

1.) NONE of the samples included any Ni (nickel) -- as expected.

2.) The "proper-reading" nickel, (per VDI readings on both the CTX and Equinox), had NO iron, NO aluminum, as should have been the case; it only contained copper, zinc, and manganese (and, presumably, silver, which was not measured). Interestingly, there is no record that zinc was officially to be a part of the metallic mix for ANY of the war nickels, yet ALL FOUR of these samples showed zinc content, per the XRF analysis.

3.) Each of the three "anomalous-reading" nickels contained at least some aluminum -- and aluminum is not officially mentioned as having been used in war nickel metallic composition.

4.) One of the three "anomalous-reading" nickels contains what appears to be a substantial amount of iron, while the other three had zero iron -- and of course iron is not officially mentioned as having been used in war nickel metallic composition.

5.) The relative amounts of Cu, Zn and Mn vary WILDLY from sample to sample, with some having twice as much copper as others, some having twice as much Zn as others.

6.) ONLY the "proper-reading" or "reference" war nickel, seemed to have a "proper" amount of Mn, with the other three nickels showing only 1/3 to 1/5 the amount of Mn as the "reference" nickel.

7.) The MOST ANOMALOUS reading nickel -- which actually reaches "penny-range" VDI on both the CTX and Equinox, is the ONLY sample nickel that contained IRON. This sample ALSO shows more aluminum content than the other samples (and again, aluminum is ALSO not supposed to be present in war nickel metal compositions, based on official records).

Bottom line, it certainly appears that there was a WHOLE BUNCH of "funny business" that went on, at the U.S. Mint, during the war, which has not been well-documented (at least not "publicly). It's almost like they minted these nickels with whatever metals they could mix together at the time, based on availability, or lack thereof, during the war. SURELY, somewhere, there is some documentation on this, but I have yet to find it. I can't believe the Mint didn't have records of what they were doing, but I sure haven't ever seen this information in the public domain.

Anyway, here is the spreadsheet. Enjoy! ;)

Steve





Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK


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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: Jason in Enid
Date: November 23, 2018 12:27PM
very interesting results, thanks taking the time to investigate that!

I'm curious if the mint actually creates their own metal bars or if they purchase them from another source? Even if it was completely an in-house process, I doubt they will ever admit to just making coins from whatever they had on hand.

Maybe this can explain why some pennies have wildly different detector VDIs all the way from IH cents up to quarters.

Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: IDXMonster
Date: November 23, 2018 12:47PM
Absolutely STELLAR Steve! Will get back after work...

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 23, 2018 03:23PM
Jason,

If I recall correctly, the Mint today purchases most of their pre-made metal "disks" (called planchets) for coinage minting, from third-party suppliers (both domestic AND abroad), who are supposed to produce these "planchets" from agreed-upon, specified mixes of metals. And of course, the "specified" composition of a "war" nickel was supposed to be 35% silver, 56% copper, and 9% manganese. However, I seem to recall that the U.S. Mint ALSO can, and has, produced their OWN planchets, from their own facility...AND has even supplied foreign countries with planchets at times, made according to those countries' specifications. So, that is one interesting question to ask right there, that you brought up -- i.e. WHO made the planchets for the war nickels? A private company? The Mint itself? BOTH?

And yes, if there are these variations in "war" nickels, I would expect there are also some -- albeit smaller -- variations in other coins, as well. I would expect nothing as drastic as what there seems to be with the "war" nickels, but there is little doubt in my mind, for instance, that it is a difference in metal composition that causes Indian Head pennies (and some early wheat cents) to read much lower than newer (but pre-'83) copper pennies...

Kevin,

Thanks! ;)

Steve



Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK

Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: IDXMonster
Date: November 23, 2018 08:46PM
Just incredible work Steve,I wouldn’t expect thoroughness of this kind from anyone else! I know you’re a stickler for the details,this is really an eye opener looking at the chart. HUGE differences in composition from the looks of it,and an EASY answer to what we are seeing!
As absolutely unlikely as it is,last night I was hunting my village park that is devoid of any high conductors anymore,so I’ve been working down the scale. Using the CTX and stock coil at Manual 20,I got a signal hovering around a 19-36 at 7-8” deep on the meter with High Trash separation. Pinpoint indicated a coin sized target so I dug it up! I was thinking somehow a rotten zinc had gotten buried deeper or possibly an Indian or maybe a ring? From right about the correct depth I pulled a 1944-D war nickel. All by itself,no other junk around that I could tell. I was blown away because of this very thing we’ve been discussing,and it actually HAPPENED TO ME!!
The detecting gods know no bounds when it comes to supplying us with head scratchers,but because of your dogged determination,I think we may have an answer as to how it COULD have happened,and to be VERY AWARE that these types of targets need to be recovered. I will be investigating and keeping track of what I find more carefully for sure!
Thanks a million for your input,it is highly valued!:smile:

Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: wyohunter99
Date: November 23, 2018 11:04PM
I dug one the other day that was a solid 12-16. What I think is crazy is most of my deeper V’s came in like pull tabs 12-20’s all in ferrous coin....

Tom

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 24, 2018 09:57AM
Jason,

Thanks for the very kind words! While the side of my brain/personality that drives me to latch on and not let go DEFINITELY has its drawbacks (ask my wife, LOL), it may occasionally result in something semi-useful, as well! ;) If this information is found helpful to others, then I am particularly glad to have invested a little effort into it. I know that it was valuable for me to see these results, so as to help to attach a logical explanation to this "anomaly." Knowing that metal compositions varied so drastically, on these "war" nickels, helps to explain the "mystery" as to the unexpected readings we get from some of these. The interesting thing is -- just like your "surprise" discovery last night (what a funny and strange coincidence that you dug a 12-36 war nickel), we are left to conclude that there are likely MANY war nickels in the dirt that have been passed over, simply because instead of falling in a VDI range we EXPECT, they fall into VDI ranges that we typically ignore (i.e. trash). Sure, when one creeps up to 12-34 or higher (on the CO side), we would have a better chance of digging them, as at that VDI number they are reaching up into the higher-conductive coin range (zincs and Indians). BUT -- how many have been passed over, which read lower, in the pull-tab range?! I suspect VERY many.

It's an interesting case of "confirmation bias." In other words, we THINK nickels should read about 12-13, so that's where we dig, and when we get a war nickel that reads there, it "confirms" that we are right. And since we don't EXPECT variance in metal content amongst coins, we come to ASSUME, then, that all nickels MUST read close to that range. And then, since there is a whole range of "junk" targets that fall slightly higher, on the VDI scale, in a range coin hunters don't normally dig -- we would therefore very rarely dig those war nickels that read higher, say, 12-23, for instance. And thus, we don't even know they exist! And thus, we become even MORE certain that "all war nickels read similar to regular nickels." It's the old "you can't know what you don't know" paradigm!

I find this really fascinating -- and it's so ironic that you dug one of these "anomalies" just last night! LOL!

Steve



Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK

That is way interesting, Steve...
Posted by: Chris(SoCenWI)
Date: November 24, 2018 10:41AM
Have you done any research of others doing similar testing?

I have some dim recollections of war nickels that didn't ring up properly. I may have pry all of mine out of folders and tubes after the snow flies and run them under a coil.

Chris

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 24, 2018 12:03PM
Chris --

Yep, I have looked for others that may have looked into this, and haven't found much -- aside from quite a few folks who anecdotally reported to me that they have ALSO had a few of these "anomalous" war nickels turn up, at times, while detecting.

On a related, but slightly deviant angle to your question, I also raised this issue on a very prominent "coin collectors" forum, and none of them had any clue whatsoever of this. It turned out to be a rather lengthy thread, which I started BEFORE I had done the XRF testing; it was more of a "hey, I metal detect, and I KNOW there are war nickels out there that I am almost certain, based on detector readings, are not minted according to the published data regarding metal compositions; does anyone know anything about this?" At first, I was met with skepticism, of course; none of them really believed that the "odd" detector readings on some of these nickels was indicative of "a different alloy being used." However, as I persisted, some became interested, and it turned into an interesting thread. I eventually had the XRF analysis done, and shared the results. But the bottom line is, none of those folks -- at least some of whom SHOULD have been "in the know" about such things -- had ever heard of, or even had any reason to suspect, that there might be "war" nickels out there that were minted using very different, "unofficial" alloys. I would THINK this could be of significant interest to the coin-collecting/numismatic community, somewhat analogous to how other "mint errors" or "coin anomalies" draw interest from collectors. But, since there is no "obvious-to-the-naked-eye" marker of any sort on these nickels, for a collector to immediately and easily latch onto (as would be the case with mint/die errors, such as "overstrikes," etc.), it's hard to "prove" that these "odd" nickels are indeed an anomaly that potentially infers some degree of "rarity" -- and thus "collectability."

Anyway, that's a long way around, with respect to your initial question; the bottom line is, I have not found anyone else who has done any research into this, at this point...

An XRF analysis from a lab that deals SPECIFICALLY with this type of sampling (precious/noble metals) -- and thus knows the proper way to set up and calibrate the machine -- would be very helpful, and would probably offer results that are accurate enough to draw solid conclusions. Sacrificing a few of these coins for metallurgical composition analysis such as a fire assay would also give answers, but both of these things cost money -- probably substantial; I was fortuante to have been able to have the XRF analysis done, even though sub-optimal; meanwhile, a specific XRF analysis geared toward the metals in question would most likely carry a substantial cost (as would other methods of metal content analysis), and at this point that cost is the barrier to me carrying this experimenting further...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metallurgical_assay

Steve



Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/24/2018 12:04PM by sgoss66.

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 24, 2018 12:08PM
Hey Kevin -- forgive me above; a couple of posts back I called you "Jason," as I was thinking about my conversations with both of you, and typed the wrong name! LOL! Jason, forgive me as well! LOL!

Steve



Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK

Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: IDXMonster
Date: November 24, 2018 10:23PM
Quote
sgoss66
Hey Kevin -- forgive me above; a couple of posts back I called you "Jason," as I was thinking about my conversations with both of you, and typed the wrong name! LOL! Jason, forgive me as well! LOL!

Steve

Yeah,thems fightin’ words there mister!:lol: I’ll live,you could’ve called me “Kemper” or something...:wink:

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Re: Crazy war nickel numbers....
Posted by: sgoss66
Date: November 24, 2018 11:48PM
Kevin --

I would NOT have done that! ;) LOL!

Steve



Minelab CTX 3030
Minelab Equinox 800
Garrett ProPointer AT
Lesche hand digger
Lesche 38D Ground Shark "King of Spades"

Norman, OK

Indian heads and wheats...Time in the ground...
Posted by: Chris(SoCenWI)
Date: November 25, 2018 02:09PM
Steve,

I've long noticed that IHs hit lower than newer cents on my XS. Basically if it hits upper right but not touching top of screen plus deep- Indian head; same spot shallow post 1982 zincoln.

I just rechecked my coin book. Both Indian Heads and later cents supposedly had the same composition- .950 copper, .050 tin and zinc.

I suspect there could be some variation in the amount of either tin or zinc...

But what I seem to be noticing is more early wheat cents with heavier patinas seem to be ringing up in the same area as Indian Heads. I'm wondering if time in the ground changes the composition of copper cents.

Chris

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