A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned, You Betcha

Anyone can become a millionaire in the Hamptons. Even if you can’t sing like Billy Joel. Don’t have leading man Alec Baldwin’s good looks…don’t worry. No comedic timing like Seinfeld…no problem. In fact, just about anyone can become an instant millionaire in the Hamptons. All you need to do is be good at scavenger hunting.
It was reported in The New York Post that an 1873 dime minted in Carson City, Nevada was sold for $1.6 million at an auction. Let me say that again, “An old dime sold for $1.6 million.” I don’t think this necessarily shocked anyone who is a member of the American Numismatic Association, because they are used to seeing big money paid for old coins. Some of the highest amounts that have been paid for coins are for those that are known as “error coins.” They are coins that have defects, like many of us.
Now think about this for a minute. How many times have you lost loose change in your life? Don’t you think the people who were living on the East End during the mid 1800’s lost some spare change as well? Pockets weren’t as well-developed in those days. Getting on and off horses would surely lead to coin loss, as would getting in and out of buggies and wagons. There were few cash registers and most business was conducted hand to hand. And we all know that people drop things.
In my opinion, there is very old change spread all over the East End. Many of the towns and hamlets in the area were founded well before 1873, when the $1.6 million dime was minted. The reason much of the coinage has never been found is because people are only looking for it on the beaches. Everyone has seen the typical treasure hunter with his or her metal detector sweeping from side to side on the beach. That might yield a 1996 quarter or a 2004 nickel but not any old change. Anything old that is going to be found on the beach has already been found. So why not look elsewhere?
I have done some calculations and estimate that there is more than 68 cents in lost change, per acre, in the Hamptons. I came up with this formula after doing significant research on the Internet. I have accounted for every contingency. I started by taking the estimated amount of change created since the beginning of minting. I then applied a factor of how much U.S. change is currently in circulation domestically. Then I applied a formula for projecting the amount of destroyed change. Next, I took the remaining amount and broke it down, on a prorated basis, based on the various denominations of coins. That was then divided by the number of acres of inhabited land in the United States. And that is how I arrived at the 68 cents per acre. I know what you are thinking, “Mr. Sneiv has been drinking again.”
Even if my calculations are off, you only need to find a single dime to become a millionaire. And it is not only old dimes that are valuable. Old pennies, quarters and nickels can also be worth a million dollars or more. Every day, in America, someone finds a coin that is worth $1,000 or more. Even if you don’t find a million dollar coin, there are still thousands of other minted coins that are worth significant amounts of money.
Because our Island Paradise has been the victim of some epic storms over the years, it is understood that a certain amount of top cover has been deposited as a result of wind and water. Thus I project you will need to begin your search at approximately 14 centimeters below the existing surface. A simple garden spade will be sufficient to reach that level. After that be prepared to get your hands dirty.
I suggest you start your searching around the porches of houses and driveways (formerly carriageways) that have been around since the mid 1800’s. It is also a good idea to look under very old houses that have crawl spaces.
I do not suggest one seek old coins in the cemetery itself, as that is hallowed ground. However, the properties around old graveyards may yield some change. Funerals were a big deal in the olden days and many people were probably standing around with their hands in their pockets waiting for the burial, since graves had to be dug by hand. They were most certainly very upset at their loss and would not have noticed if some coins slipped out of their pockets. Their loss could be your gain!
There are also some old lighthouses in the area and there might be some old coins buried around them. But given the fact that the founder of Dan’s Papers is known to be pretty protective of those, I would stay away from them. There might be some coins at the bottom of Town Pond. Since there are few wishing wells and fountains on the Island, it is reasonable to think that people tossed coins in the local ponds for good luck.

If you do find some old coins, keep it secret. Anyone who has ever won the lottery will tell you that they had to go into hiding before claiming their prize. One of the biggest fears they expressed was where to hide their lottery ticket until they could cash it in. Otherwise someone may seek to do them harm and steal their prize. In the case of finding old coins, while awaiting valuation, I suggest that for safekeeping, you bury them in your backyard. Wait a minute…that might be where you found them in the first place?
I expect to see many East Enders out digging with their spades in the coming weeks. If I don’t, then I can only surmise that everyone living here is already a millionaire and doesn’t need the money. Well…it is the Hamptons!

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