Saturday, April 30, 2011

Elf Buckles And A Mystery Coin

  When I pulled this little item--which is less than an inch in length--out of the ground, Damon said, "Oh, it's a belt buckle." I looked at the object intensely. "For what?" I asked. "An elf?" "No," he laughed. "For a ribbon or something," and perhaps he is right. I also has a button stem on the rear.
  Then there is this little doodad, which I am 95% certain is a very old coin, though I will never know what kind. Many old and ancient coins had holes in the center and alot of those were silver or gold. This, however, is most definitely nickel.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Update on Damon's Coin

  I have been soaking D's coin in olive oil for a few weeks and an image of a shield has become visible on the rear. The front is still fairly caked with crust, but there too, the image of a face is starting to emerge. I suspect it is British and probably early to mid-1800's. I have never seen a coin with such a thick, unmovable shell, and have deep suspicions it experienced a fire.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pins in the Ground and Some Love

  These items are from the same old home-site in Boothbay as the aviation pin. The heart and the other thingy both seem to some kind of hat-pins or shoe-buckles or ribbon-clasps. I don't know who lived there at the turn of the century, but they seem to have had a knack for losing pins and buckles. It must have been a hobby.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Flying Underground

  I found this WW1 aviation pin in a backyard in Boothbay. I am uncertain of it's purpose--possibly a collar-pin, whatever that is.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Silly Possum?

  Damon and I went back to the old hotel for a little more hunting the other day. No more gold rings, but we both came away with a few interesting items. Most notably for me was a large coin-sized brass button, with a beast of some sort and the words "Silly Possum" on it. I was bemused and befuddled by both the image and the slogan. I figured it was some sort of clown-suit button or something. I showed it to people and said, "Look. Silly possum. Ha." I looked it up on-line and could find no silly possums. In fact, I wish I had never punched that combination of words into Google. Don't Google "silly possum". You will regret it.
  It wasn't until this evening, when I decided to try searching for a "possum button", that I discovered it was not "Silly Possum" at all, but "Billy Possum", otherwise known as William Howard Taft, our 27th President of the United States of America. Apparently, his nickname was Billy Possum and the buttons were political advertisements. I don't claim to understand how referencing marsupial scavengers could help win votes, but it does make me want to have a catchy animal nickname. Maybe Aaron Aardvark.
  I found a handsaw, which I momentarily thought was a gun. Actually, I thought it was a gun for about six hours. I made a holster for it and everything. I felt so tough, and handy.
    Another fork... I love forks. So does Laura. She's always asking me to bring home more forks. Here's another fork, babe.
  And some jewels. I don't know what they are, but they fell out of a nineteenth century brass hair-clip as it was being unearthed. I hope you like them.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Day of Firsts

  It is often said that beginners have a certain amount of inherent luck upon the start of any new endeavor--you hear it spoken of in sports, in gambling, in business, and very often in metal detecting--and though it has never held true for me, I now know it to be true.
  My good friend, business partner, and now treasure hunting partner; Damon Pierpont, went out with me yesterday on his first day of metal detecting. Now, he has watched me MD and he has messed around with a machine a few times, but yesterday was the first time he really got a chance to get out there with his own detector and dig.
  I got a lead this week on an interesting site of an old hotel and we checked it out the first chance we got. I was in the front yard digging up rusty nails and wheat pennies when I heard him shout. At first, I thought he had dug up a hornets nest, then I heard him. "It's a gold ring! And there's a diamond in it!" I couldn't believe it. I have been doing this for over a year now and I have not found one single gold ring.

  "Let me see that," I said and I threw it into the woods. Just kidding. I was probably as excited as he was about the find and I knew immediately that another lifelong metal detectorist was born. I then proceeded to watch him dig up a large cent and a WW2 military medal emblazoned with a swastika. Astounding! The large cent was pretty encrusted, but I am in the process of cleaning it and a shield is beginning to become visible on the rear. I will post pics of it again in a cleaner state.
   My pitiful little finds pale in comparison to Damon's but I will list them anyway. There was the usual small buckle, an interesting knife blade, a small musket ball, and some small piece of something that I suspected at first was a Spanish "piece of eight". There was also a great big axe head, which I have not photographed yet and will soon, along with my rather large axe-head-collection, which I keep displayed on the kitchen table, much to my fiance's dismay.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lost Treasures of the Little People

  I thought the last ring was small, but this thing measures like a quarter of an inch in diameter. These are the little people that little people call little people. It is most definitely silver. The ring was banging off the gauge at eight inches deep--I thought I had a silver dollar, and it took me about twenty minutes to find this teensy-weensy ultra-tiny mini-person ring in the soil.

 Also, there was this small gold-plated shirt button, from some early 20th Century fancy-pants. "Oh, look at me, I'm Mr. Fancy-Pants, with golden buttons and silver bells and tra-la-la-la-la. I'm off to see the little people."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cocos Island Treasure

  Last night I finished reading Sailing by Starlight, In Search of Treasure Island, by Alex Capus, which one of our thoughtful librarians sent home for me with my fiance the other day. Sailing is a remarkably concise, entertaining, and informative little volume of only 122 pages; in which we are painted a realistic, if not harsh, portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his chain-smoking wife, Fanny, as they suffer and flounder in their paradisiacal South Seas estate. We are also introduced to Cocos Island, which is apparently the most mysterious and notorious of all the "Treasure Islands", and given a rich history of not only the scoundrels and pirates who used the place as a sort of home-base while plundering the west coast of South America, but also the descending line of explorers and treasure seekers who fruitlessly excavated the entire island searching for the buried treasure of Lima Cathedral, the most famous lost treasure of all time. I was never aware that Stevenson's Treasure Island had any basis in actual fact, or that he died so young (age 44). Sailing is an enjoyable and educational read for anyone interested in literary history or treasure hunting, or someone who just enjoys reading salty tales of wooden-limbed pirates and plunder on the high seas. Thanks, Rockport Library.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some of a Gun

  Another object dug up in Union Commons. It was sitting on top of a buried tree stump, about three inches below the surface. They are obviously two sides of a very old gun, though of what kind I am entirely uncertain. I am guessing it was a pistol, judging by the size, and probably from the 1800's.


  Found in Union Commons. I don't know, I suppose it was used to hook something. My plan is to clean the rust off and use it in conjunction with a rusty chain to hang a particular birdfeeder in our yard that currently blows around in the wind a little too much. Are birds fond of rusty junk?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brass Chisel?

  I didn't know such a thing existed, but I am fairly certain this a brass chisel. It's about nine inches long and the tip is broken off, found the other day down in one of the cellar holes in Pittston.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My First Buffalo

  I went out yesterday morning for an hour, searching for the site of the original Camden High School, which I knew from light research had been located somewhere behind the existing school on Knowlton Street. The area behind the school is now comprised of three large baseball fields, and that is a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. So I picked a small plot of ground, about one hundred square feet, in what seemed to be the most promising parts of each field, and worked them hard. Nothing. Just a bunch a modern clad. I had about ten minutes left when I noticed a large cluster of tall old maples at the far end of the westernmost field. Everything about the spot screamed antiquity; the hundred year old trees, the exposed roots, the roll of land. It was literally the only patch of ground in that vast expanse of ballfields that hadn't been visibly flattened by the machines of man. I looked first under the closest and tallest maple and almost immediately pulled up my first Buffalo nickel. It was extremely worn-out, almost to the point of unrecognizability, but there it was, dammit. I just said about three days ago, "I want to find a Buffalo nickel." Let's try this, "I want to find a pot of gold."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Silver Ring

  I didn't go out for long yesterday, but I got rained out of work and decided to hit the park for an hour. Momentously, I found my first silver ring, a tiny little bugger, probably a toe ring or a child's ring or the ring of some hapless homunculi or incredibly shrinking woman. Anyway, it is small and I was happy to find it. I never seem to find anything other than costume jewelry and I marvel at these photos of these MDers with boxes of gold and silver rings and wonder what I am doing wrong. Well, not any more. Indeed, as is often stated in the books and forums, the tony ring registered as a pull tab on my machine and I almost didn't dig it. But now I dig it, dig it?

  Also, I found this 1917 Bulgarian 5 Stotinki piece. That was the real excitement of the day. It was deep, about seven inches, and at first I thought it was just a penny. It was much smaller than a penny however and I suspected it might be tiny money dropped by the little people who lost the ring, then I recognized what appeared to be Russian script on the rear. I cleaned it with soapy water at home and did some research online to discover that it was in fact Bulgarian and what is known as a Stotinki. Laura's pencil rubbing of the rear helped me to read the date as 1917. Marvelous!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beneath the Water

  Damon and I stopped in town and went into the park, when he noticed that the river that empties into the harbor was dry, which meant the dam was closed. We hopped down into the the dry riverbed that comes out from beneath all the old businesses on main street. I swung the detector for a few minutes, but the quantity of metal jammed the machine pretty badly. It actually exploded in my hands! Then I noticed the pennies lying in the mud and I turned off the machine and just started picking them up. Very quickly I realized there were some wheat pennies mixed in and I looked a little closer. I managed to find one Indian head, which is roughly dated 190(something), 6 wheatbacks, two clay pipe stems, an old spoon, a marble(love finding marbles), a beautiful little perfume bottle stopper, a great large square nail, and some swiveling brass doohicky. Also, a total of 3.25 in dirty money. My fiance is going to strangle me if I don't find some place to store all of this great garbage. Hopefully, she realizes how very much I love her.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gold Mining in Maine

  I just finished C. J. Stevens' The Next Bend in the River, Gold Mining in Maine, and I found it truly inspirational. Stevens is a fine writer, as well as researcher, and his book really brings the reader close to the whole experience of gold mining, particularly around the end of the nineteenth century--the scent of campfires from the mining camps along the Swift River, the icy bite of cold river water in the early northern Spring, tiny nuggets of gold rattling around in the bottoms of pans.
  The history of searching for gold in Maine is much richer than I had previously thought. Stevens provides a page-long list early in the book of some of the towns where more notable discoveries were made, but makes it abundantly clear that gold in at least small traces can be found just about anywhere in the state. He regales us with tales of amazing gold discoveries and "gold fever" victims striking it rich, like the man in Mount Desert Island in 1926 who found a 7-pound nugget on the beach. He had it for years before a friend kindly told him what it was.
  With tales of gold-panning hermits, scheming crooks who set up fake discoveries to fool investors, murderers, lost loves, and flat-out liars; The Next Bend reads as good as any adventure novel. Not only will it give you a touch of your own gold-fever, it will tell you how to treat it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Fool's

  I couldn't believe it, but we got slammed on April 1st by a Nor' Easter that produced about six inches of snow, heavy winds, dangerous roads, and power outages all over the state. Needless to say, I didn't get any MD time in on Friday. However, Saturday morning I went down to Camden Harbor and had a little time before the tide came in. Turned up the usual sack of pennies from the wishing well upstream (see my post from last month about the wishing well), another great old fishing weight to add to my fishing weight collection, some kind of unidentifiable brass thingy with the letters F and S on it (maybe "fast" and "slow" as suggested by my friend Dave Curry), a great old brass faucet (probably from a ship), and a musket ball or bearing or dangerous metal man-marble. I can't wait for unfrozen ground that is not covered in snow...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The New Successful Coin Hunting

  I stayed up last night and finished what must be a standard in literature on the subject of treasure hunting, Charles Garrett's The New Successful Coin Hunting. With 259 illustrated pages, it is about as comprehensive as a single metal detecting guide can be. The full range of usual topics is covered, from basic detector maintenance, to elaborate lists of good hunting spots, proper detecting form, digging techniques, underwater hunting and dredging, coin collecting and cleaning, and a myriad of treasure finding tales and photos of coin spilling caches. I believe it would be impossible for any metal detecting enthusiast to read the volume without being totally captivated.
  That being said, the book is fairly goofy. I don't know what it is about Charles Garrett. I mean, he is a master of the craft, with 50 years of MD design under his belt and as many years of treasure hunting all over the globe. He says somewhere in the book that he has hunted every continent except Antarctica. Still, there is some weird naivete that never fails to make me uncomfortable. It isn't so much Charles Garrett himself, who I find to be about as genuine, sincere, and upright as a person can be--it is his products. The book's one downfall is its corniness, from the hilarious photos of eager young couples happily finding pennies in a sandbox playground to the photo of the "pretty girl" finding coins on the beach, from the unfortunate suggestion that one should spend time watching children at play in the park in order to see where money might likely be dropped to the idea that chain link fences surrounding grocery stores should be checked for blowing paper currency. Even some of Garrett's "green machines" have a certain level of silliness in their design. I seem to recall reading about one of their machines that actually had a woman's electronic voice telling the MD'r how deep the item was they were hunting, a feature which many complained nearly drove them to madness.
  Yet, the book The New Successful Coin Hunting is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject. It is staying on my bookshelf and will certainly be referred to later. If nothing else, Charles Garrett has inspired me to broaden my Treasure Hunting horizons beyond simply searching old homesteads and farms for coins and relics. There is a whole world of cache hunting, gold hunting, shallow water hunting, underwater diving, dredging and sluicing, and indoor cache hunting out to be explored. I have even decided to add the Garrett Pocket-Probe (I know that sounds suspect) to my repertoire for hunting walls and the spines of old books, which apparently were popular places to hide valuable coins back when people still owned books.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pittston Farm

  I have been working on a 200 year old farm in Pittston and yesterday I spent my lunch break MDing around one of the old barns. Found about ten old plow tines and this great little brass ring, possibly from a door knocker. Also found a heavily tortured wheat penny dating to the teens. It is turning out to be a year of wheat pennies. I guess I need to go deeper.
  Dan, the owner of the property, gave me a great little history of the area. He said there is a schoolhouse foundation at the end of the drive and multiple cellar holes down the road, including one of a carriage wheel shop, which explains the carriage wheel ring I found earlier this week. He even drew me a little map showing how to get there. Now, if I can just find the time...