Monday, March 31, 2014

Silver Plated Buckle

  I got out to the beach again after work on Saturday with my friend and fellow treasure hunting enthusiast, Matt Pollis, and swung the beep stick for an hour or so. Found an interesting silver plated lead buckle in my first hole. It's broken, but definitely dates to somewhere in the 1800's to early 1900's and has a laurel design on the face that I am not familiar with. The rest of the hunt was fairly uneventful, producing only an old lead net weight and a seriously punished Indian Head penny. Compare this one with the Indian I found a few days earlier, which had a visible date right out of the ground, and it shows how disparate the conditions of dug coins can be, even when excavated in the same location. Of course, there was also the usual collection of rubbish, bottle caps, and twenty five cents in clad.
  I seriously cannot wait for the ground in this state to thaw...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coin Collection Treasure Find

   I remember Karl Von Mueller writing in "Treasure Hunter's Manual #7" about the wildly various places one can find hidden treasure troves, from the more commonly known hiding spots like floorboards in old houses and the insides of old trees to unusual places like windowsills and the undersides of old bureaus and the insides of lamps. Well, one of the hiding spots he mentioned was automobiles. Apparently, people's cars and trucks are a fairly common place for them to hide things. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. We spend a lot of time in our autos and they tend to not be out of our sight for very long. Hiding spots inside of automobiles can vary from wheel wells to the insides of seats and even deeply thought out and executed locations buried far inside of exhaust systems. 
  So, I was thrilled to hear a story yesterday from a close friend and co-worker (who shall remain nameless) about a coin collection he found hidden inside of a used car he bought. The car was over ten years old when he purchased it and he had owned the thing for at least a year before he discovered two narrow blue plastic boxes hidden under a flap of upholstery in the rear. Inside of the boxes, he found a beautiful collection of rare and foreign coins. The collection contains a nice lot of old silver dollars and half dollars, a roll of silver quarters, a half roll of silver dimes, commemorative coins, some fine British coins, a few large cents, and a wide variety of foreign pieces. Probably the most interesting item is a tiny little silver 1889 Queen Victoria "Jubilee Head" Maundy Penny, whose value I estimate to be between 125 and 150 dollars. Note the extremely diminutive size of the Jubilee Head when it is placed beside a penny in the final pic.
  My friend is now considering selling the whole lot, so I stayed up last night and tried to price them out. I am certainly no experienced numismatist, but as far as I can tell, the collection is worth somewhere between 500 and a 1000 dollars, which is probably more than he paid for the car. And to set the record straight, the original owners of the car were ultimately sought out and knew nothing of the coins.
  If anybody needs to get ahold of me this week, I will be in my driveway, tearing my truck apart piece by piece...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beach Bells and the Indian

  Back to the old beach again for a little more hunting. You know, until the ground thaws, it's really my only option. Ended up with five more battered wheaties and a 1905 Indian head, which was surprisingly in better shape than the wheats, and even better than most of the modern clad. Clad totaled out at 2.57 and a half. There was a 1939 Jefferson nickel, which I think was the second year of their production. There were a few interesting beach relics, including a nice copper lure spoon and a beautiful brass crotal bell, which happens to be on my list of favorite things to find. Also, a couple nice lead weights, a very old file, and some curious little odds and ends.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Clay Pipe Stems

  Clay pipe stems. I find them on beaches, near old foundations, and sometimes in the holes of things I am digging while metal detecting. I love finding them and I am always amazed at the quantity of the things lying around. Well, I don't know if it's true, but my friends Ginny and Dave told me that as the pipe stem wore out or clogged with time, the user would just snap off the bad piece and toss it. I guess that explains a few things, ie., the large amount and small size of most pieces. These pics are of Ginny and Dave's collection, which they were kind enough to let me examine and photograph. Note the detail on some and the imprinting, which most often reads "Scotland".
  Also, the stems can be dated by placing drill bits into the holes in order to establish the interior diameter. The size of the interior hole determines the date of fabrication. I am including one of many websites that give the breakdown of hole sizes versus creation dates:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flock of Seagulls (Bird Bands)

  Well, first little beach hunt of the year was cold but enjoyable. I visited a local beach whose rich history I have been researching. I wasn't wearing long johns and it was so cold I almost got back in the truck. The beach turned out to be heavily littered with rusty square nails, which was a good sign. It made for difficult metal detecting, but the T2 did a good job reading between the junk and I pulled out two wheaties in pretty short order. The presence of these two pennies was good evidence that there could be some silver around, and sure enough, I turned up a heavily battered 1902 Barber dime soon thereafter. 
  Also, another rusty pearl handled pocketknife and an interesting bird band. I didn't even know what a bird band was, but I looked it up when I got back to my computer and I ended up on a government website filling out a VERY detailed form. It turns out the band belonged to a Common Eider, born around 2009 and tagged in 2010 on the south tip of Isleboro, and obviously reduced by at least one foot, as the band condition indicates the removal process was not a careful one. Apparently, they are sending me a certificate of appreciation. 
  In the words of Krom, from Metal Detecting Maine, "I think bird bands are a precious find."

Monday, March 17, 2014

William's Love Token

  So, I got looking a little closer at Uncle Pirate's Treasure and I came across what appeared to be a little seated dime, but with the word "Will" delicately engraved on the rear. I have heard of people carving things into coins, but my knowledge of it was cursory and I had certainly never held one. I threw a photo up on the Metal Detecting Maine forum and the awesome members there schooled me on love tokens. That's right, they are called love tokens and that's basically just what they are. They showed me pics of love tokens with pins on the rear so they could be worn on a coat or blouse or something. There are also things called "hobo nickels", which were apparently Buffalo Nickels carved up by homeless men with sharp knives. Anyway, you can look up examples of all these things, but here are some pics of Will's.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Uncle Pirate's Treasure

  So, my friends Ginny and Dave told me that Ginny's uncle had given her a tin of old coins that he had found around Camden and surrounding towns over the years. Now, keep in mind that he wasn't metal detecting. I got the impression he was just walking around picking them up. She brought the tin over yesterday and here are a few shots. There are some really interesting coins: an enormous 1828 Italian cent, a lovely 1840 Nova Scotia large cent with the poppy on rear (found one myself on North Haven), interesting carved Canadian large cent, 1865 2 cent (haven't found one yet), 1844 one shilling silver, some nice small silvers, and of course... the damned reale. The reale deale. Piece of eight. Spanish silver. Small piece, but it's a piece. I want it. I wish I had found it. I offered to buy it. I know it's not worth a lot, but it's beautiful. I want to swallow it. Keep it in my stomach for good luck.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some Old Winter Bottles

  Here are a few old bottles I found this week. The large green wine or champagne bottle was found wedged between some rocks at Fort Popham at low tide. We had a frigid day last week and I was unable to finish the day at work, so I drove by myself down to Popham Beach and Fort Popham. I nearly froze to death climbing around on the icy rocks behind the Fort, looking for cannonballs and old bottles. I didn't find any balls, but I did find the bottle--note the nice deep kick-up in the bottom, and the fantastic sea glass effect to the edges from a 100 years under salt water--and #4 lead plummet to add to my lead plummet collection. 
  The little aqua blue was found in Camden, at the bottom of an eight foot hole that had just been excavated for concrete. The embossing on the sides reads "3 in 1 Oil Co." I had just finished reading "Bottle Collecting in New England" by John Adams that morning, so I was excited to put its finer details up to what I had learned from the book. 
  And the little brown bottle was found at a Camden home while my good friend Ronald Van Heesjwick and I were doing some renovations. It's original purpose is a mystery, but I imagine it had something to do with medicine.
  I'm not going to do a review here, but I enjoyed the Adams book. It's not large, with only 25 pages of text and 100 pages of bottle pics and prices, but there were a few tidbits of important bottle hunting info to be gleaned, and the 1960's photos of Adams searching the New England forest for bottles with his wife and sons are amazing. Definitely worth a quick peruse if you get the chance.