Wednesday, August 15, 2018

1822 large cent found on my friends 1850s property

I got permission to dig on a friends yard today.  The brick home with carriage house was built in the mid 1800s and I expected to find horse shoes.  They were enjoying watching me, and when their 20 year old daughter came home she was delighted.
Apparently I had not shared with her that I'm a detectorist and she is quite enthusiastic about the idea of detecting.  So she showed me her brothers old 1990's vintage Radio Shack detector that she had not really used.  It needed 6 AA batteries that they didn't have at the time, but I'll help her get it going tomorrow.  Baby steps!

The big find came early in my 2+ hour hunt of their small back yard.  An 1822 Coronet Liberty Head large cent!   I cleaned it very carefully with a brief immersion in vinegar/salt solution and brushed it with a brass wire brush, then sealed it with Renaissance Wax.  Apparently this one may be worth up to $20 in this condition.

Here's where I found it.

The next cool find was a brass MTBA subway token (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).  It is in pretty good shape and is a series of 1988-2006 worth about $2.50 today
 It was delightful to be able to share the enthusiasm of these finds as I found them and we cleaned them off in the kitchen.

I spent another hour and a half and found a bunch of old copper flashing and brass nails along with the usual grommets, pull tabs and chunks of metal.

In the back corner of the yard is a shady spot where the Dad has his lawn chair and I found a coin spill totaling about $1.70, some were right on the surface. (Thanks Bruce! Finders keepers!).  In among them was a 1950 wheat penny that I'll add to my collection.

I was so absorbed that I barely noticed how hot and humid it was.  I'm definitely going back there!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Musings on the cleaning process

My dad was a research chemist and his hobby was photography.  So growing up I had access to his "lab" where I learned to develop my B&W negatives and prints.  I loved the smell of the chemicals and pottering around in the lab.  So from age 8 until I was in my 20's I spent a lot of time in our various home labs developing my prints.  I ended up doing my degree in photography and used my home darkroom a lot during that time.

I noticed today that my laundry room - which now houses my collection of finds and all the cleaning tools, equipment and chemicals evokes those days.  I can spend almost a much time cleaning my finds as it took to dig them up.  I keep learning new tricks and discovering great things under the rust and dirt.  Todays finds include 2 items that revealed themselves as I processed them.

The copper circle in this eagle (boy scouts?) pendant revealed itself after I dunked it in a white vinegar and salt solution.  I had tried a brass wire brush at first and the copper did not show.  The text in the circle reads: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1903".  I coated it with Renaissance Wax to preserve the shine.

This boy scout button also involved special treatment.  The steel loop on the back was so encrusted in rust that it was filled in.  I used electrolysis in a vinegar/baking soda solution to remove the rust, and actually went a bit too far as the process ate through part of the steel back, but now the loop is slightly loose as it might have been originally.

This star shaped pin badge says: "We're here for you!".  It's probably from an insurance company.  When I tried wire brushing it the black paint started coming off.  I guess they didn't spring for cloisonne.

The other cool  find is the1975 UNA PESETA coin that also benefited from a brief dunk in vinegar salt solution to remove some corrosion that then was easy to remove with a brass brush.

I also got this surface find - a junk jewelry brooch, obviously a fresh spill from one of the flea market seller's tables.

These look too clean to be musket balls, they look like they had some brass plate over the lead and I don't think that was done historically, but they are the right size to be musket balls.

The copper sheet and large open ring cleaned up well enough in vinegar to put in my copper recycling bin.

Monday, August 13, 2018

1901 Indian head penny and much more!

Yesterday I was exploring my flea market permission and not finding much, so I decided to "use the force" and just wander around "feeling" where to go.  It was almost like dowsing, I felt called to go to a particular area and I came to a spot that I have covered at least twice and my detector went nuts with high and mid tones all overlaid.  I almost tried resetting it, but then realized that these were all good signals and started digging.  Almost everything you see in the picture below was found in a 10ft. square area.   I'm quite pleased with my Garrett ACE 300's ability to isolate different signals when they are close together.  I know that the fancy new models are even better at discriminating overlaid items, but I think that I'll be sticking with the 300 for quite some time.
The clad coins include 2 quarters, 2 nickels, 10 dimes, 6 pennies.  Plus lots of brass including plumbing parts, finial and chain that will go in my recycling bin.

I didn't notice the 1901 Indian Head until after I got home. I just throw all the coins in my bag and clean and inspect them in the good light of my work area.  This is my first Indian and it's in pretty good shape!

Also got a 1944 Wheatie.

And a 1962 Canadian one cent.  I have a lot of Canadian coins - being relatively close to the border.  People come to this flea market from all over the East Coast - buyers and sellers.

This button with a propeller on it is cool.  The back is rusted, but the shank is intact.

This silver ring still has its price tag from when it was dropped.  It was an inch or so down in the grass roots.  I can't read the price, but the other side of the tag says "coral", but the stone is bleached out.  Must have been pretty originally.  I see a lot of these silver rings selling for around $10 when I walk through the market while it is open.

This ring feels like aluminum, maybe it was gold anodized originally.

Not sure if this was jewelry, it is marked: "OREGON No. 2.".  Looks like plated brass.

These pieces of a toy gun were falling apart as I dug them up.

It took over an hour to dig all this stuff up!  Yesterday my finds were so uninspiring, and today totally makes up for it.  Funny how it goes in waves for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My first intact (brass) thimble

Yesterday was gray and drizzling, but I got out to 2 of my favorite sites and found a few interesting items, a rusted pen knife, brass bits and some coins.

I have been hoping to find a thimble - ideally a silver one - but I'll take a nice brass one!

I found these cheap cuff links a few feet from each other.  Both were intact, but when I tried to straighten one, it just broke.  It's pretty rare to find 2 of anything like cuff links or earrings.

Another live round that I'll drop off to the Sheriff's office when I accumulate a few more.

Another musket ball for my small but growing collection.

Finally this brass ring.   It looks a bit like a shower curtain ring, but I'm not sure what it was for.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A coin spill near the barn, and 22kt gold plated sterling heart

Yesterday, I decided to hunt around the barn on the flea market property because I had already found a few interesting items like the early 1900's safety razor and a lot of coins near it.  The moment I started swinging my detector I got loads of signals - it was a large coin spill totaling $2.41 that included a $1 coin and other modern coins including a thrashed 1941 wheat penny.

Here is the area where most of the coins came from.  I dug maybe a twenty holes in this patch - and I'm proud to say that there is no sign I was ever there.  

Since April I have dug hundreds of holes on this flea market site and the owner and grounds keeper would never know I had been there if they had not seen me digging every few days.  I also do them a favor and pick up loose trash so it does not get hit by the lawn mower.  Can slaw anyone!

The interesting finds include a key ring with 5 keys on it with a leather strap that has a Volunteer Fire Department pendant on it.
I cleaned and waxed it and it looks nice. Made by Keith Smykal Co. NYC.

I also like this lovely bracelet.  It came out of the ground looking very dull, but I soaked it in white vinegar/salt solution and then polished in on my buffing wheel with rouge.  It is made from brass and copper wire.  It looks like a design from the 1970's.

The heart stopper was found in the middle of the grass parking area as I was walking back toward my car.  It came out all shiny and I almost did my gold dance, but people were nearby.
I tested it and it is 22kt gold plated, the loop is stamped 925, identifying it as 92.5% silver.  Before I saw that, I thought I had solid gold there for a while.  It weighs nearly 6oz, and if it was gold it would have a value of over $200.  The sterling value is pretty low and I can't even sell it to smelters because it's too much trouble for them to separate out the 2 metals.

I found that the top screws off and there was some damp gray particulate gunk inside - hope it was not cremains!  Maybe just casting residue. 

Then I found parts of a nice watch scattered about - clearly hit by a lawn mower!  Stainless steel makes for strong signals.  It was a Tudor with a serial number on the back, now it's "watch slaw"!

I clean all my coins with my small National Geographic rock tumbler using N.G. brand aquarium gravel and various chemicals.  I've been using the same gravel for months and it is not wearing down.  I run the copper coins separately and do a batch almost every day if I have a dozen or more of each type of coin or object that needs cleaning.

Since it is designed with a built-in timer that only has increments for DAYS, not HOURS, I built my own timer (shown behind the tumbler) so I can select 1,2,4 or 8 hours of tumbling.  I generally use 1 or 2 hours and go longer as needed.

Modern copper plated zinc pennies don't last long underground, and I have to toss about half of them.  I try cleaning some of them, but it usually reveals pits in the zinc.

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