Review: The Pocket Pinger and the Stack Stick from Sound Money Metals
Came across an interesting little gadget recently that I'd never heard of before. Decided I'd pony up the $25 to see just how well it works.
It's called "The Pocket Pinger". It's a simple device that allows you to "ping" a coin in order to hear the resonant, bell-like tone that a "good" precious metal coin should have, vs. the high pitch or dull thud like sound of a base metal counterfeit.
We've talked before about knowing the sound of a good coin when dropped gently. Some people also place coins on a neutral object and then strike them with a pen or pencil, etc.
The Pocket Pinger takes that to another level. The coin is placed between two pretty tight caliper points, with silicone tips centered in the middle of the coin on either side. You then pull one edge of the coin down with your thumb, and allow it to pop back up, gently striking a hard plastic surface opposite of where your thumb was. This action results in a loud and very sustained "ping" on silver and gold coins.
The tone that the Pocket Pinger makes is really very impressive. For no more than a gentle tap as the coin pops back to center, the tone is loud and goes on for a very long time. Much longer than I would have expected--sometimes a 10 or 12 count or more. It's really pretty and nice to hear.
And the Pocket Pinger is really easy to use. Well made even if it is just a plastic resin. No moving parts, except for additional silicone tips if you need to replace the ones that come with it. Very light weight and very compact.
And it comes with a small hickory dowel they call "The Stack Stick". You can use it in conjunction with the pocket pinger, or by itself as with the pen or pencil mentioned above. It seems a little more legitimate than using one of those household items.
So does it work? Well, yes and no.
It definitely makes a really loud, resonant bell tone with the silver coins that I tested. Morgans, world crowns, even smaller coins like a standing liberty quarter. It was surprising just how good, clean, and clear the "ping" noise was. Reinforces what many of us already knew about how a good coin rings.
But I tried it with a clad Ike dollar. It too made a high pitch ring. Different than a Morgan, but not way outside the range of some of the other coins I tried. And I tried it with an absolutely awful fake silver round. This piece is the wrong color, the wrong weight by a long shot, and just has that cast Chinese fake look to it. But it, too, makes a pleasant, sustained, high-pitched tone. Not wanting to poison my own review, I pulled out my Sigma and tested everything again--including the awful silver round fake.
The Sigma read everything perfectly and soundly rejected the fake on all the settings from 99.99% pure all the way down past 80% Canadian.
Now to its defense, the Pocket Pinger wasn't wrong. It's just that the difference between tones on good coins vs. bad coins, Clad vs. 90% vs. cheap fake is somewhat subtle. The tones were different. But are you going to know and remember the different tones between a 1960s Canadian silver dollar, a modern .999 Philharmonic or Brittania, and a 19th century Mexican 8 reale when you're out in the field? In a busy flea market, coin shop, garage or estate sale? Honestly, I was expecting a dull, ugly tone on the fakes and the clad. I figured it would be obvious and apparent. It wasn't especially obvious while sitting at my desk in my quiet office--at least not to my ears.
And again in their defense, they do have a companion app you can download that provides a graphic interpretation of the sound waves. It isn't necessary or required, so I didn't download it. Maybe it makes a lot of difference. I don't like having seldom-used apps on my phone.
I'm pretty confident in my own ability to pick out fakes--I've been doing this for 40 years or more. I'm exposed to a wide variety of coins weekly if not daily and have a thousand different varieties in my stack. So I'm not entirely sure the Pocket Pinger offers me anything but a novelty and a chance to write a review here.
And that's maybe my biggest beef with the Pocket Pinger. If you're a newbie, and you can't tell with some degree of confidence that a coin is real or fake, I'm afraid this tester might give you false negatives in a clear, sustained "ping" even on fakes. If you're relying on this device alone to verify authenticity, it might actually be doing the opposite.
As always, your mileage may vary. You can order your own Pocket Pinger here:
--Severian the Lame