Monday, August 27, 2018

Lost gold ring recovered on beach - and helping park rangers

I got an email last night around 7pm from a woman named Bethany about a lost gold ring on the beach.  She had got my info from the park rangers at the entrance to Popham State Park beach (Maine, USA).  I had dropped off some cards at the entrance gate a few days back and I'm so glad I did.  I called Bethany and asked her for the details and she was able to give me a very clear description of where she and her mom had put down their towels - it was her mom Judy's gold class ring from Russel Sage College in 1969.  She sent me a picture of what it looks like.  I'm sure it has a lot of sentimental value, if bought new today it's worth $785.  It is 18kt and weighs in at .162oz so the gold value alone is about $200.

I got out there at 8:30am and was the first in the parking lot!  There were signs that the east bathroom was closed.  It is right near the entrance stairs that go down to the beach, there's more to that story - read on.  I got down to the beach and found the driftwood teepee landmarks she gave me and started to work a grid.  I got excited every time I found a pull tab or scrap of tin foil.  Then after about 25 minutes - BINGO!

I would not have found it so easily without her clear description of the driftwood teepee locations relative to where they were sitting, and a bush up on the dune right near where they were sitting.

Here's the actual ring!

Out on the beach there is not a good signal for phone or texting, so I texted her a picture when I got home around 10:30am.  They got my texted picture while driving back to New York and were thrilled.  We will arrange shipping when they get home.  I requested $25 for the search plus shipping and a voluntary reward.

It was such a lovely morning that I stuck around and looked for coins - didn't find much.  One of the pleasant aspects of Maine beaches is that there is almost no trash.  All I found in 1 hour of hunting was a few scraps of buried tinfoil and gum wrappers and 2 pennies and a nickel, plus a few bits of surface trash, nothing much though.

On my way out I saw that the park rangers were digging around manholes trying to access the septic system that had failed.  I offered to help them find the place they needed to dig and it only took a few seconds to locate an iron signal near where they expected to find the 3rd the man hole.  They dug where I told them and they were dead center on the spot they needed and this saved them hours of digging to find it.  One of them gave me 5 free passes as thanks!  Second good deed of the day!
As they commented, the job of a park ranger is not always as glamorous as it seems.  Sometimes you are digging out a septic system.  I replied that it must be a shit job at times like this!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

WOW! Roman Constantinius I coin from early 300's

Every time I go out metal detecting, I think of the old adage: "To catch a fish, think like a fish".  It's easier at the beach because of all the fish! . . . Um, I mean I can see where all the people plop down their towels. 😉😃  Around historic homes, I hunt around entrances and old trees and back yard areas.  At the flea market, I assume most coin spills and merchandise is dropped on the buyer side of the tables.  But this has not bee proven to be true, I find stuff all over the map.

So yesterday I decided to focus largely where the sellers back their vehicles up to the tables.  I found a lot of coins and some interesting pins up to 8feet from the tables.  I found about the same amount of items I would find on the buyers side.  Interesting.

 This broken sterling brooch goes right into my silver recycling bin.

This gold plated(?) military button has a screw back, so I assume it's recent.  Not sure what branch of the military it's from, there are letters above the wing beginning with "EP.." but that's all I can make out.

This cloisonné pin/earring is a bit scratched up, but I like the design.

 I think this may have been a military epaulet(?), it was black originally I think.

Yet another small lead animal for my growing collection.  I have never seen one new, so I can't tell it they were painted, but they all seem to have paint residue.

The most amazing find is this tiny coin.  I cleaned it in vinegar/salt for 20 minutes and I can see a face looking right.  

I'm pretty sure it is an Roman Imperial coin from the early 300's featuring Augustus Constantinius I.  The obverse shows two soldiers holding spears and shields with two standards between them.
Thanks to Matt Pfeil from the Stealth Digger Nation FB group for identifying this!  This is definitely the oldest coin I have found.  It may be barely identifiable, but it's mine and I'll take it!

When I try to explain the allure of metal detecting, I often say that it's a lot like fishing.  It's not so much about the catch, it's about the experience.  Obviously I'm not a catch and release kind of guy though!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Too much cleaning is a bad thing

I went to the flea market while it was open on Friday morning and found that a whole section had been closed off with CAUTION tape.  I asked one of the sellers that I know what was going on.  He said that the owner had closed off that section to keep the open tables closer to her house so she could see everyone.  Apparently she pissed off several exhibitors that had been there for over 20 years who liked their preferred spots.  He thought they may just move to a different flea market.  However this morning (Saturday) the market was quite full and that section was open, with many familiar exhibitors.  Maybe this was a tempest in a teapot?

I went back Friday evening and found a lot of fresh coin spills - lots of dimes - and a few jewelry spills, some buried and one fresh.  Total $1.88 in modern coins.  Some brass catches and part of a pencil compass.

The fun find was this part of a brass oil lantern.  It was about 4" down and it was dirty and looked in bad shape so I threw it in my rock tumbler for an hour with a little white vinegar + water.  That was a mistake!  It came out shiny new looking and lost the patina that makes it look antique, it still has a short section of wick.  It was made by Chalwyn of Dorset, England, probably in the 1950's.

Another item that I over cleaned was this tiny Lions Club pin made by Leavens Mfg. Attlelboro, Mass.  In business from 1948 to 1999 they specialized in making awards and emblematic jewelry for corporate America and civic and fraternal organizations.  I put it in a white vinegar/salt solution and forgot to take it out.  It was there for over 12 hours (should have been an hour or 2 at most).  The front is now barely readable, but it sure is shiny!

This is the second sterling brooch I have found of this design.  The previous one had 3 purple stones in the center.  It's basically junk jewelry as sold by many flea market vendors.

This necklace was a surface find hidden in the gravel under a table probably fell off the table in the morning.  OOOH! Shiny!  I'll probably give it to a niece or young friend.

This lead item is roughly bullet shaped, but flattened.  Not sure what it is, but it goes in my lead recycling bin which is getting quite full.

Here's the days haul.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Crystal pendant on silver chain

I spent an hour digging my favorite permission - the flea market.  Nothing too exciting, 76 cents in change and some odd items.

The quartz crystal pendant with a silver chain is neat.  I remember these were popular in California in the 80s.  The crystal was supposed to be "good for your energy" or something.

This John Zink Special #6 copper badge is missing it's back which might have been filled with epoxy looking plastic, there were bits of black plastic in the hole.  Apparently it represents a working vintage race car.

 I seem to find a lot of starting pistol rounds like this one.

 Finally this tiny badge that says: "OKLAHOMA THE SOONER STATE" with an image of oil rigs in the center.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Cashing in at Reid State Park beach

I had not been down to Reid State Park beach for metal detecting yet.  It is only a 20 minute drive from me on all-new resurfaced road which is especially pleasant in my electric car.  You really notice road surface noise in an EV and fresh smooth roads are really quiet!  

I chatted with the park ranger at the entrance where I signed off a permission slip for detecting.  I gave her a few of my metal detecting business cards.  She said they would refer me to people that lose rings and jewelry and she noted that I live nearby!  Apparently they hear from about 5 people per season that lose valuables.  I hope I get a call!

I studied where people set up their chairs and tents and worked those areas and got $2.58 in coin and some tent pegs and trash.  The beach is known as the "mile long beach", but I stayed close to the entrance from the parking lot which is where people plop down their stuff.

A group of young kids got all excited as I was detecting near them and they "helped" me dig up a few coins.  I let one young girl keep the quarter she found.  It was cute to see one of the boys mimicking me by swinging a driftwood stick.  I think there may be future hobbyists in that group!

I met a young man with a Whites metal detector and spent some time talking with him and his wife.  He's quite new to detecting and they are very enthusiastic about the hobby.  They had seen my blog and I hope we can connect via Facebook to go hunting together since they live quite near me.

Silver spoon buried under a flea market table

The weather has been quite amenable for a change.  Mid 70's, sunny and no wind - perfect for metal detecting!  I spent an hour or so at my flea market site and worked the gravel walkways and the areas just under the front edge of the tables where stuff gets dropped a lot.

The best find was this silver spoon.  It is stamped "BANGKOK".  It is a similar design to classic Siam Silver, but the inlay is light blue and not black silver.  It was a few inches down in the dirt and in pretty bad shape, but an hour or 2 in white vinegar/salt solution and some light wire brushing with a brass brush got it cleaned up nicely.

I also found my third US dollar coin, this one is from 2000.  It needed cleaning in my rock tumbler and came out nicely.  I had never seen dollar coins before I started metal detecting - who uses these?  Not me.  The Coinstar machine takes them though.

Plus the usual assortment of junk and modern coins.  I always recycle anything that can be recycled, from pull tabs to scrap brass etc.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Back to the 1850s house

I went back to my friends house that was built in the 1850s with a stable in back originally.  I found an 1822 large cent last time and had high hopes for something equally old.  Well, I got more modern coins and a couple of odd finds.  There were some very deep signals that I gave up on as they were under roots or just too much work at over 12 inches.  I might go back and give those another try, but the signals read like big chunks of lead (roof flashing) or brass.

First thing I found in the side yard was this costume jewelry ring.
I was made in India from metal I can't identify.  It may have been plated brass, and it has a glass "stone" with a flower design in fused glass in it.  It was very poorly made.

The other interesting find is this dime sized medallion from the "NORTH AMERICAN HUNTING CLUB".  There was nothing on the back.

I have never seen a coin shaped object where it was rotting out from the edges.

The other stuff was bits of lead flashing and brass roofing nails - all give a very strong signal and those nails are hard to find in loose dirt!
At least I found $1.23 in coin!

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!