Thursday, July 20, 2017

7/20/17 Report - What Might You Be Missing: Trade-offs and Strategic Metal Detecting Strategies.

Written by the treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Three Shipwreck Spikes and Some Modern Coins
What kind of items would you most likely miss?  Different people miss different things.  Everybody misses some types of items.   Your detector and settings and hunting style will be more tuned for some types of items, but that will mean that there will be other things you will miss.

There are always some trade-offs.  Your hunting style might be near optimal.  You might be finding the types of things you want to find while not missing much that you don't care about.  But do you know?  Do you know what you might be missing?  When you decide to discriminate or skip one type of item, are you aware of what else you might also be skipping?

You may never know what you left in the ground.  There might have been a few surprises.  I bet there were.

The number of watches I find has always been surprising to me.  I was surprised, first of all, by how many are lost, and secondly, how long they seem to remain on heavily detected beaches.  The thing is that they aren't identified by detector meters and they can sound like junk.  If you leave a watch in the ground, you might be leaving the most valuable thing you passed over all day.  That is just one example of the kind of thing I'm talking about.

There are some things that I'm sure I would have found years sooner, except they were in my "blind zone."  I didn't realize it for a long time, but it was the result of the characteristics of my metal detector and the items that I was targeting at the time.  I was focusing on gold jewelry, and as a result, there were other things that I was missing.

You can not avoid making some trade-offs when you focus your hunting on certain types of finds.  It is wise to focus your time and efforts.   Your decisions can save you time and optimize results.  You might be perfectly fine with deciding to accept one type of error in order to save time and optimize your overall results, but you need to be aware of the effect of your decisions so you know you aren't missing things that you'd really rather find.

Here is a little quiz.  Which of the items in the photo at the top of the post do you think a detectorist would most likely fail to find if it was in the metal detector's range and the coil was right over it?  

I'm going to talk about this in generalities today.  Assume all of those items were all at the same shallow depth. And I'm not going to go by any particular metal detector or the particular settings you might use.

You might think that size is the primary determinant, but in this case it probably wouldn't be the smallest of these items that most detectorists would miss.

I'd say that probably fifty percent or more of the detectorists that hunt the Treasure Coast would not detect the second item from the left.  It is a broken iron spike.

If I'm talking about another area of the country where other types of detectors predominate and where there are more relic hunters, for example, the results would not be the same.

You'd think that most detectors would detect a shipwreck spike, but many will not, even one of the ones that is very commonly used on the Treasure Coast shipwreck beaches will miss them.  You might run full sensitivity and no discrimination and it will still not respond to iron targets like this.

Years ago I wondered why I hadn't found iron shipwreck spikes even though I found all kinds of other shipwreck finds, including small cobs.  The simple reason is that I wasn't digging iron at the time, and the particular detector I was using at the time would null out on iron.  If you aren't digging iron, you won't find iron, and there might actually be a few iron items that you'd prefer to have. Again, it is good to be aware of the effect of the decisions you make.

The first spike in the photo is an interesting one to me.  It was bent over then clenched in, but then the head pulled through the wood.

The iron spike in the photo, is broken, as you can see.  The smaller spike to the right of the iron spike is copper, like the first one shown in the photo, and I think more Treasure Coast detectorists would dig the copper spike than the iron spike.

Of course, some metal detectors are very hot to iron and would easily detect the iron spike.  Most people do not like to detect with a lot of iron sensitivity and so either choose another type of detector or use some type of discrimination.

I'm talking about this to encourage you to get to know your detector and the possible results of different detecting strategies.  You might want to test your detector and the way you detect to see if what I am saying is true for you.  You should know if your detector is hot to iron or not.  Don't just complain about the iron junk.  Make a calculated decision.

Another Selection of Finds.
Here is a second grouping.  Which item in this photo do you think the most people would miss?

Again, you have to know what they are made of.   The first is copper; the second bronze; the third is lead, and the fourth object is lead.

The copper and lead will usually give a good strong signal on many metal detectors.  The one that many people might miss would be the third item: the lead stylus.  ( It has been identified as a stylus, although other people think otherwise.  I've recently talked about the difficulty of identifying artifacts.)

The lead stylus is surprisingly stealthy to a lot of detectors, while the crumpled lead sheathing gives a huge signal. 

What I said today might or might not be true for your detector and how you detect. My primary purpose with this is to make you think about different types of targets, and your detector and how you hunt.  I'm convinced that trade-offs are unavoidable, but can be good.  You just have to make informed decisions.

It is easy to miss certain types of items and never know it.  That might include a few of the types of items that you might prefer to find.  That is why it is important to know your detector and experiment with a variety of types of objects.

If I figure out how to get my detector sound recordings into blogger, I might give you some examples for two or three specific detectors.


Tropical storm Don has disappeared and there is now no tropical activity in the Atlantic or Gulf.

Expect a one to two foot surf for several days.  We are having some decent negative tides.  Every tidal cycle, some sand in the very shallow water and at the water's edge gets shifted.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7/18/17 Report - Tropical Storm Don. Ancient Hoard Found in Spain. Live Cannon Ball Found.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of the

Predicted Path of Tropical Storm Don.
The big news for me is that we now have a named Tropical Storm.  It is named Don.

While it looks like Don will stay south, it could turn north, or maybe go through the Gulf and come back at us.

There is also another tropical disturbance behind (East of) Don.  That one now has a thirty percent chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.


Hoard of Coins Found in Spain.
Source: See thelocal link below.

A treasure of gold and silver ancient Roman coins has been found at a mining site in Huelva, southern Spain.

The discovery is of "incalculable value and a milestone in the archeology of this mining area," according to the archeologists from Atalaya Mining, the company running the mine who found it. The discovery was reported by local newspaper Huelava Spain.

The 40 or 50 coins found, which date from the 2nd century AD, according to a report in La Informacion, are said to be from the era of Nero and Trajan.

"It is a discovery of great beauty that comes to contribute data to our knowledge of RioTinto, that was the great mine of the Roman Empire," Luis Iglesias, director of archeology at Atalaya Mining, told El Pais....

Here is the link.

Unless Don or the other system heads our way, it looks like we'll have a one to two foot surf on the Treasure Coast for a week or two.  We have some good tidal variation though.


Explosive Cannon Ball Found
Source: See CBC link below.

A cannonball fired by the British during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 has been unearthed at a building site in Old Quebec.
The rusted, 90-kilogram projectile was unearthed during excavation work last week at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets and still contained a charge and gunpowder.
The work crew that found the ball picked it up and gathered around it for photographs, unaware that it was still potentially explosive.
Municipal authorities were contacted, and archeologist Serge Rouleau was called in.
Rouleau brought the cannonball back to his home, and noticed it still contained a charge...
Here is the link for more on that story.


I recorded some detector signals and was going to insert them in a post.  I couldn't figure out how to do that on blogspot.  Maybe I'll get it figured out some day.

Happy hunting,

Monday, July 17, 2017

7/17/17 Report - Two Tropical Disturbances. Different Strokes. Ear Training. 1st Century Writing Tablets. Old Book Treasures.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Two Tropical Disturbances Now
The first one (orange) has about a 40% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.  They tend to move west/northwest, but we'll have to wait and see what they might do.


Everyone is not the same.  We are all different.  We have different sizes, shapes, strengths, weaknesses, attitudes, interests. skills and abilities.

Not everyone is going to make a career out of treasure hunting. You might be thankful for that.  It would mean everyone on the beach having a metal detector.  Not everyone is going to spend their life on hunting deep sea gold.  There are other things that need to be done in this big world anyhow.  And not everyone is going to hunt old coins, relics or modern jewelry.  There are a variety of types of treasure hunting and a variety of types of detectorist, just like there are a variety of types of people, careers and hobbies.

I wrote about an article proclaiming detecting the world's worst hobby.  Why was it the world's worst hobby for that person while being the world's best hobby for so many of others?  The answer would take longer than I'm willing to spend, so I'll just boil it down.   For some people its great; for others its not.  Some people like vanilla and others like chocolate.  Go figure.

Beyond that, I think that if Emily had more instruction and better support from the beginning, her experience and conclusions might have been different.  Yet the fact remains, that many of us did not have any training and started totally on our own and got hooked.  Maybe my first attempts would not have been so encouraging and habit-forming if I had not begun detecting on busy Florida beaches.  I don't know.

There was that time when I was much younger and my grandma got a radio shack detector that after a few attempts I found out wouldn't detect a coin.  It would detect larger objects.  I didn't get hooked on detecting then, but maybe I would if the detector was better.  Again, I don't know.  I barely remember that.

One thing I do know is that detecting has provided me a lot of education and entertainment.  The demands of life haven't permitted me to go at it as hard and heavy as I once did.  In fact, I haven't been getting out much at all lately.  Hopefully things will improve and I can get back at it.

Yesterday I mentioned that Emily said she found it hard to distinguish the various detector sounds.  One of the several reasons I recommend doing a lot of testing with various objects, especially those that you'd like to find, is to become familiar with the sounds and their meaning.  If you want to find gold, put a similar gold target on the ground and go over it time and time again until you can quickly and easily identify the sound.  In the past I talked a lot about doing that kind of testing.

There was an ear training course you could purchase for the Excalibur.  It might still be available.

Here is an article about an unusual find of 1st Century writing tablets.

The hoard of around 25 wooden writing tablets was discovered by an archaeological team at Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

Consisting of letters, lists and personal correspondence, the items had been discarded towards the end of the 1st Century.

Work is under way to conserve the tables and decipher the messages...
Here is the link.


A Sotheby's auction including many fine old books on maritime history and related things has concluded.  For example, a lot of ship's journals and other papers relating to the African Slave Trade of the 1780s and 90s sold for $65,000.   Old books can be great treasures as well as resources.

Here is the link if you want to check out the other lots.


The surf hasn't change and their are no significant changes predicted yet.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, July 16, 2017

7/16/17 Report - A Metal Detector Beginners Observations and Experiences Plus Commentary. New Tropical Disturbance Brewing.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Tropical Disturbance In The Atlantic
There is now a disturbance that has a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.  You would expect this to continue heading west and turning north at some point.

No significant increase in surf is predicted for the Treasure Coast yet.


NPR's Alex Chadwick talked with Slate contributor Emily Yoffe about her latest Human Guinea Pig experience: metal detector-ism. Subsequently Emily wrote a post on having the subtitle Metal Detecting Is The World's Worst Hobby. I listened to a few minutes of the NPR interview and read Emily's article.  I found the article interesting because it clearly presented the impressions of someone just giving metal detecting a try.  And as you would guess from the subtitle, Emily and her family, didn't like it at all.  You might wonder why.

First of all, the Staffordshire Hoard was one of her first references to metal detector finds that she made.  With images of such sugar plums dancing in her head, surely the reality must have been a shock after going out and finding the typical junk.  The point of that being that expectations need to be realistic.  Big treasure hunting dreams usually come true only after a lot of effort. Optimism is a plus, but patience is required.

The author of the article (Emily) called a metal detector salesman to purchase her first metal detector and told him she wanted something her seven year old could easily use and she wanted to find Civil War relics because she lived where they could hunt for those.  She was surprised when the salesman told her the seven year old would probably only want to go metal detecting one time.  That is about the way it turned out.  He also told her he had been detecting for three years (pretty much of a beginner himself) and had never found any Civil War relics.  She was surprised that a salesman would tell her something like that.

In her post she said, I started metal detecting for the latest episode of Human Guinea Pig, the column in which I do things people are curious about but wish someone else would do for them. But metal detecting was something our family actually did want to do, even without Slate's encouragement. It was my daughter's idea, actually. She requested a metal detector for her 7th birthday—she had seen a TV commercial that promised diamond rings and other amazing treasure.

Many people are curious.  They sit and watch and try to get a glimpse of what you dig, and they ask if you found anything.  Emily actually tried it, spurred on, it seems, by her seven year old daughter who was enticed by a commercial.  I guess the commercial worked to sell one metal detector, but the result was an entire family being turned off by the experience, and perhaps many more people being negatively influenced by her interview and blog post.   

She, as I suppose most beginners, was confused by the variety of detectors offered on the web.  That must be very common.  I receive a lot of questions from people wanting to get started who don't know what to buy.  

Here is something else she said that I believe people need to pay attention to.  The beep of the metal detector, like the car alarm, the busy signal, and the colicky baby, belongs in the catalog of irritating sounds. The booklet that came with my Tracker IV instructed me to study the different tones emitted by the machine so I would know the kind of metal being indicated. But I could never keep straight whether the chirp that resembled a dying sparrow meant iron or the drone like that of a truck backing up meant copper.

I agree one hundred percent that metal detector sounds are irritating.  Do they have to be so cheap and unpleasant sounding?  Most are.  Secondly, and more important, it isn't easy discriminate a lot of the sounds.  A musician might have an easier time with it than the average person.  In my opinion, that is one of the better reasons for visual displays.  (You might remember my recent post discussing aural versus visual signals.) 

After some discouragement, she consulted a neighbor who was a detectorist.  He showed a box of his finds, evidently exciting her interest to some extent again.  He did another thing for her.  She said, Phil adjusted the arm length on my Tracker IV, resulting in the immediate relief of what was becoming a debilitating case of metal detectorist elbow.  It wasn't long ago that I referred to the importance of a properly adjusted rod.

Metal detecting isn't something that someone with no experience or help can easily jump into on their own.  It is not as simple as buying a detector, turning it on and admiring the finds.

Emily's post (no pun intended) should be of some assistance to metal detector manufacturers.  It might also be of some assistance to beginners, as discouraging as it might sound.  If you are a beginner, expect to put in your time learning how to use your metal detector and find treasure.  It can be an activity that provides a world or interest and education.  Take your time to get educated before making a lot of commitment.

I personally found Emily's observations interesting.  They might be of value to both metal detector manufacturing companies and retail outlets. 

And here is the NPR radio interview here.

Happy hunting and happy learning,

Saturday, July 15, 2017

7/15/17 Report - Trade Silver Artifact and Difficulty of Identifying Items. No New Storms.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Detectorist Working North of Sebastian Inlet.
Photo submitted by Darrel S.

Thanks for the photo Darrel.


MACKINAW CITY, MI - Excavators at Colonial Michilimackinac uncovered a 250-year-old piece of trade silver earlier this week; their second big find this summer. 
According to Dr. Lynn Evans, curator of archaeology at Mackinac State Historic Parks, the triangle-shaped artifact has a small hole in it, which means it was likely part of an earring or pendent worn around 1765...
Source: See link below.

This might make you think of the posts I did on Seminole and Calusa silver artifacts.  This item wouldn't be associated with either of those groups, but it is said to be trade silver.  It seems to me this item could easily be misinterpreted.  It is a simple geometric shape and could be used in a variety of ways. It could even be a left over scrap or part of something that had no particular function at the time it was lost.

After reading most of the article, I did something I don't usually do:  I read some of the comments.  I don't know what happens to people when they are sitting at a keyboard and faced with the opportunity to type something, but in a lot of cases it isn't pretty. It makes you wonder about the state of our civilization and hope for the future.  I think you know what I'm talking about.  I can't even describe it.

Anyhow, there were a few comments that I thought were illustrative or otherwise interesting. Someone commented that it could be part of a fishing lure.  You might not think so if it is really silver.  On the other hand, I can imagine circumstances when a person might use a random piece of shiny silver for something like that even if it was previously or subsequently used in other ways.  We might go to the store or order the precise part that was designed for a very specific purpose, but people in the past, and some of the more handy and creative people of today, might save any miscellaneous piece of material and use it in any multitude of ways.  If you wanted to be creative and think of all the ways this piece could be used, I'm sure you could come up with at least a few.

I always remember one item that was dug up during an archaeological excavation of what was described as a slave quarters and the item an archaeologist said was one thing ( I think they said it was a tobacco pipe ) turned out to be one of those small toys from a box of Cracker Jacks.

It can be difficult to interpret finds - even when they are found in context.  It is easy to be wrong.

Lets say there is a range of possible uses for an artifact.  For example, a triangular piece of metal, like the one shown above, could be used as a pendant, or it might be used to attract fish, or it might be used as a screw driver, or to scour a line in wood or cut leather, or if shined up to reflect light, to signal someone on a distant hill.   I think you get my point.

There is a range of possibilities. To any interpreter, some of those possibilities would seem more likely than others.  If you assigned probabilities to each of the possibilities, you might say something like you feel that there is a 75% chance that it is a pendant, for example, and maybe a 2% chance that it was used to reflect light and send signals.  In general you might expect a bell shaped curve something like the following.

The vertical axis would represent the probability that an item is a certain thing.  There might be a relatively high probability that the item is a pendant.  Items like that would fall at about the center of the curve above.   But there are other possibilities, some of which might be considered to be much less likely.  They would be either far left or right on the curve.   (Maybe the curve should be cut in half.)

I am just thinking at the keyboard, so I apologize for the lack of refinement and poor explanation.

It must be something like medicine.  You go to the doctor and present symptoms X, Y and Z, so the easy diagnosis is something common, like the flu, yet symptoms X, Y and Z might also indicate something very rare.  The tendency would be to over-diagnose the most likely illness and under-diagnose rare diseases.

Undoubtedly archaeologists and treasure hunters tend to identify finds according to what seems most likely or probable.  That makes sense, but in the process some interpretations are overlooked or too quickly dismissed.  That would result in a narrowing and heightening of the curve.

I hope you get what I am saying, and I apologize for trying to put it out there before I thought it out more completely.

There were other comments to the article that were interesting.  A couple people said something like that they were out at the dig site last week and dropped the item.  One person jokingly said that, and then said they would appreciate having the lost item returned.

While those people might have been joking, they make an important point.  Sites can always be contaminated.  And odd things can be found where you'd never expect to find them.  Some kid might take a thousand year old fossil or hundred year old coin from dad's collection and drop it in the school yard.  Just because an item is old doesn't mean it was lost a long time ago.

Another point is that there are people who will try to claim things they did not lose.  It happens.  I've seen people try to claim a diamond ring or gold chain they did not lose.  I've talked about that before, and you have to be careful.   Don't provide a full description until you know you have the real owner.  Ask them for the inscription inside the ring or something to prove ownership.  That is one reason the picture that I posted of the lady wearing the lost cross pendant was important.  It helped prove ownership.

Here is the link to the original article.

Click here to go  to "trade silver" article.

Sorry this topic wasn't better developed.  I'll undoubtedly have to spend some more time on the subject and probably have to clean up this post later.


There is no tropical weather of concern right now.

The surf will be two to three feet on the Treasure Coast this weekend.  Otherwise, beach detecting conditions remain unchanged.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

7/13/17 Report - 1715 Fleet Capitana Escudo Find. Wolf Gold Burial Hoard.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Illustration of 1714 Mexico Two-Escudo .
Source: Sewall Menzel's Book, Cob's, Pieces of Eight and Treasure Coins.
The two-escudo from the Menzel book shown above looks very much like the one found by Grant that I showed yesterday.

 The one found by Grant does not show the date or mint or assayer mark, however it does show some clues to those things.  It does show the denomination in roman numerals to the right of the shield.

The escudo I showed yesterday, like the one shown in the illustration above, seems to be a Mexico two-escudo, probably from 1714.  It is also similar to the one posted in my 5/24/16 post.

One of the biggest clues to the cob's date is the Bourbon crest which covers the lower-right castle and pomegranate.  I outlined the shield of Bourbon in the illustration below.

Shield of Bourbon Highlighted on Two-Escudo.
Here are a few interesting observations relative to such escudos.

In 1977, Bowers and Ruddy sold a very similar one for $250.  That was about the going rate back then.  The dollar was worth about four times more in 1977, so you might expect the value of a similar two-escudo today to be worth about $1000 if you just made a simple adjustment for inflation.  Of course, there are other factors that affect the market value.

I've seen similar two escudos running for just over $1000.   A similar two-escudo having the mint mark and date in excellent condition might be more like $2500 or $3500.  I'm just talking in very general terms.  You could look through Sedwick auction results and find a very comparable escudo for price comparison.  I didn't do that.

The melt value of the escudo, with today's gold prices, would be about $245, close to what the Bowers and Ruddy cob sold from in 1977 when the price of gold was just over $160 per ounce.

I'm not expert on cobs, so if anything I said here is wrong, let me know.


Source: See reuters link below.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A sacrificial wolf elaborately adorned with some of the finest Aztec gold ever found and buried more than five centuries ago has come to light in the heart of downtown Mexico City, once home to the Aztec empire's holiest shrines...

Here is the link.


There are no tropical depressions or storms in the Atlantic or Gulf.  We got the remains of old Tropical Depression Four yesterday, which resulted in a day of rain and some lightning.

The surf today on the Treasure Coast will be about two to four feet, and tomorrow, two to three feet.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

7/12/17 Report - Capitana Diver Grant Finds Treasure Coast Gold.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Capitana Diver Grant Shows Off His Find.
Photo by Captain Jonah Martinez

The guys on the Capitana are on the gold trail again.  I just got the following email from Captain Jonah Martinez.

New diver Grant, has been finding silver coins, musket balls, pottery, bronze spikes, encrusted iron artifacts, throughout the season. All the right stuff! The day started like any other. Digging and finding pieces when he got the hit. Two fans of his hand and a flash of gold. Congrats to Grant, welcome to the club.  First gold coin on the boat of the season. 

Here are some fine closeups of the escudo Grant is holding.  Both photos submitted by Captain Jonah.

Here is a BIG congratulations to Grant and the Capitana.

Thanks to Captain Jonah for sharing and keeping us informed!   We are all rooting for you.


There is no new tropical weather to watch.

The surf is supposed to increase to three to five feet on Thursday.

I wanted to get the new find posted.  Maybe I'll add to this post later.

Happy hunting,