Saturday, February 23, 2013

Look Inside of Books

I actually found these two pieces months ago and just realized that I had never posted them, so here you go, two of the most exciting items I have ever found inside of books. If nothing else, they are definitely reminders to look inside of books. They are, respectively, a 1975 Peruvian Five Soles note and an 1864 Confederate Five Dollar bill, printed in Richmond and hand-signed. The Richmond five is really an amazing piece of history and was incredible to find. I just felt this overwhelming connection to the past the moment I held it in my hand, same as I do every time I find anything that old. The whole experience of finding these things really enriches my life more than I can possibly express. I truly feel like I am blessed with this passion or obsession with treasure hunting that just continues to grow with each passing day. I mean, I am blessed in many ways, from my cats to my home in Maine, my career as a stonemason, my love of books, my health, my friends, and most notably and importantly, my preternaturally beautiful and intelligent fiance, Laura. But that is neither here nor there, as this is a treasure hunting blog and I am talking about finding things. I'll save all the wishy-washy blather about how wonderful my life is for Facebook, where everybody else apparently does it. Meanwhile, I'll show you the money...

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Indians of Mercury Cove

Went back down to the beach again at lunch yesterday and dug an Indian head penny on my first signal, not 12 inches from where the Merc was found. That's three coins off this beach and I am officially convinced it was heavily used in the early 1900's. I am also finding a lot of early 20th century shell casings and bullets. I guess they were down there shooting each other for pocket change. Anyway, the Indian turned out to be a 1908 and cleaned up rather well, leaving a fine green patina.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Mystery of Mercury Cove

Well, it was low tide yesterday at lunch time and instead of going to the store with the guys, I decided to skip down to the beach where I found last week's Mercury dime. I prowled around for a half an hour or so and didn't come up with much: an old steel button (probably off a pair of hundred year old jeans), a small lead fishing weight (I always think it's gold), and a bunch of rubbish. I saws my lunch was running out and knew I had to get back to the stone work, but I really wanted to find something good first. I detected my way to the edge of the beach and up onto the trail leading through the woods to the job site, where I was surprised to find the ground had thawed in the recent 40 degree temps. I swung the coil around the mouth of the path and got a strong signal in the silver range, a 12-10 I think. Sure enough, out pops this little silver 1917 dime and I was skipping back to lunch, happy as a Mercury Cove clam.
As I said, this is the second Merc I have found at this beach, which is surprising when you see the beach. I mean, it's not even accessible without scaling down the side of a mountain through the woods, and is only a visible patch of rocky sand about 20 feet by 20 feet at low tide. But I guess someone was going there in the early 1900's, throwing silver dimes into the sea...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beneath the Slab

As some of you may know, I am a stonemason by trade and co-own a small business by the name of Penobscot Stone, which also has a blog, accessible from my home page. So, last week I had the task of cutting an 8" wide by 8" deep by 15 foot trench in the concrete slab of a basement in a 19th century home. It turned out that the slab was just a "rat slab", which means it was only a few inches thick, and was quite easy to cut through with my 12" diamond saw blade, exposing the original clay subsoil beneath. Naturally, I could not resist sticking my Garrett Pro Pointer down there as I dug out the dirt. I didn't find much, just the incredibly worn and thinned out remains of an old copper coin, probably a large cent. I have never seen a coin so thin. Maybe it isn't even a coin, but it is definitely copper and just the right size. My only guess is that it was probably pressed right up against the concrete slab and just rubbing against it for the last 100 years.
The other object was not metallic at all, but a really beautiful oyster shell button that I just happened to notice as I sifted through the soil. I think it probably came from the button factory in Waldoboro, which was extremely active in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and whose product can found widely distributed throughout the midcoast.
Lastly, I am including a photo of an interesting bottle top, with an early rubber stopper inside, that I found on a recent detecting trip to a local beach.

Monday, February 11, 2013

That's Gold in Them Thar' Beach

First gold of the year, and really, first real gold ring ever, even though it's only half of one. It must be extremely old, to be as worn down as it is, probably beaten by the sand and surf and salt for a hundred years or more.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Definitions of Treasure

I received a really wonderful message from someone recently who told me how much he enjoyed my blogs, particularly the treasure-hunting blog. He talked about how he had done some metal detecting and really enjoyed it and how he was now a mushroom hunter, which he considered a form of treasure hunting, and I totally agree.
Merriam-Webster defines "treasure" as "1 a (1) : wealth (as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded (2) : wealth of any kind or in any form : riches
b : a store of money in reserve
2 : something of great worth or value; also : a person esteemed as rare or precious
3 : a collection of precious things"
I think every "treasure hunter" has a list of things that they are searching for. If you are anything like me, your dream is to find enough of at least one thing on that list, or a rare enough specimen, to allow you the financial luxury of being able to devote more of your time to treasure hunting. It isn't that the money or wealth is the most important factor, but a kind of added benefit. I don't think I would stop coinshooting if they became totally worthless tomorrow.
Anyway, my list of "treasure" grows all the time. It starts with Laura, my fiance, who I never knew I was looking for to begin with, but found anyway, and am just trying desperately to keep, because you know, treasure tends to slip through your fingers if you aren't careful. After that is:
Sea Glass
Sea Doll Parts
Sea Marbles
Arrowheads (or any ancient artifacts)
Gems (which I am learning)
Gold (which I have never found in it's natural state)
Caches (of anything)
Ambergris (the floating-gold whale-vomit I recently learned about)
Antiques (at yard sales, auctions, etc...)
Rare Books
Items Found in Books (money, photos, letters, etc...)

With a list this long and growing, I have not an ounce of doubt in my mind that one could support themselves treasure-hunting. On that note, I started this post with the intention of posting a few pics of a couple of items I found the other day flipping through some old books in a thrift store. Without further ado or jabbering, a pressed flower and a great old bookmark:


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mercury Rising

I have been working on a rooftop in Boothbay this week, putting some stone veneer on a chimney. The house is situated on this amazing point, flanked on either side by little coves, one of which is particularly sandy and inviting. I watched the tide go out all morning and I was thinking, wow, that cove looks just like a small boat landing. The home is located rather far out in the coastal williwags and there is no road leading down to the landing-cove anymore, but I had no trouble imagining some 19th Century lobsterman loading his boat up with wooden traps right there on that beach. Tide was lowest at lunch and I said to Damon, my business partner, "Let's get our food to go. I want to hit that beach for a few before we go back up on that roof."
I grabbed my machine and ran down the path to the water. After driving to the store, ordering food, paying, and driving back, there wasn't much time left for anything, but I was determined to get in at least a few moments. I swung the coil back and forth. Nothing. After a couple minutes, I thought that maybe this would be the first beach in Maine I had ever detected with not a bit of metal of any sort. Literally nothing, not even any muted "junk" signals from the E-trac. I checked to make sure it was on. Yep. Then a quiet, but solid signal in the 12 range, 12-30 or something. I suspected aluminum foil or a pull tab. However, out popped the first Mercury dime of the year! It's in rough shape, heavily weathered by the sea, so that I cannot even make out a date, but that's ok. There are more where that came from.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beneath the Frozen Sands of Winter Beaches

I could not wait any longer. The battle against depression has driven me out to Maine's frozen beaches after dark. Obviously, the earth is frozen solid here until March, at the earliest, and I have been saying for weeks that the beach is the only thing that doesn't freeze. Well, I was wrong again. It was seven o'clock and as the temperature plunged toward the teens, the upper crust of the beach sand began to freeze. By eight, it had become impermeable and not even the razor-sharp tip of my Lesche digging tool would poke through.
However, in the one hour interim, I manages to pull out a few corroded wheaties, 1957 and 1954; and my first silver of the year, two badly tarnished Rosies, 1934 and 1946. Also, 32 cents in clad and a small unidentifiable copper (lower right coin in the 1st pic). Plus, there was this very cool old pocket-watch interior. It told me what time it was--it was time to pack it up and leave until the sun thaws out the sand. Beaches freeze, too.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Colonial Metal Detectors

I know I have said it before, but I am saying it again, and I want everyone to listen, there is no better place to buy your metal detecting tools and machines. Rich is the man. He is patient, helpful, knowledgeable, fast, and has some of the lowest prices out there. Do not go anywhere else for your metal detecting needs. And no, he is not paying me to say this. I am saying it because I believe it.
A link to the Colonial site can be found in the sidebar.