Friday, February 12, 2016

2/12/16 Report - Florida Archaeology's Position On the Proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit. Artifact Collecting From Florida State Lands.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Thanks to the informed readers of this blog, I'm able to present authoritative research and informed opinions on many subjects.  Not too long ago I mentioned the proposed citizen archaeology permit that is being considered by the Florida legislature.  I was not ready to present my opinions but wanted you to know about the proposed legislation so you could act as you thought appropriate.  I am still gathering information myself and recently received some good information from a few readers.  I'll start presenting some of what I received a day or two ago from Leroy G, who sent me a number of documents.

Leroy said,  While this is the first time I have communicated, I am an avid reader of your blog of long standing. I would like to contribute to the discussion of the proposed Florida legislation. Enclosed is information sent out by the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society of which I am a former member. Please let me know if you do not get the attached pdf files, as they state the case against this legislation. Arguments in favor of the legislation can be found by gong to the Tri-States Archaeological Society web page. Another proponent of the legislation, The Sunshine State Archaeological Society of Florida, may be a shadow organization set up to promote this legislation, as an internet search fails to find a home page for this organization, although it is listed as an affiliated member of Tri-States.

I myself have been metal detecting for over 40 years, am a scuba diver, and have participated with both professional and amateur archaeologists on land and underwater sites. I consider the present antagonism between amateur collector and professional archaeologists both unfortunate and unnecessary. While residing in South Carolina I held a Hobby License and that program works well. The great success in England of amateur metal detectorists collaborating with professionals is a perfect example of how legislation can be crafted to benefit both. By law, new discoveries by amateurs must be reported, with the government having first crack at purchasing rare items for museum collections at fair market value. Prohibiting collecting only makes lawbreakers out of otherwise law abiding citizens, oft times unintentionally. This is a very complicated issue and I hope this contributes to the conversation.

Thanks much Leroy.  

I'll present a copy of one of the documents I received from Leroy below.  It is a letter from the President of the Florida Anthropological Society.

I find the views expressed in that letter to be very reasonable although I will add a  few bits from another perspective.

One of the objections to the permit seems to be the requirement for the state to provide information on areas to be avoided.  Archaeologists claim to be saving history for the public, but evidently do not trust the public or feel that the public. There are some in any group who are not trustworthy.  There are some who would loot, but there are also some in the professional communities who abuse their privileges.  I won't go into that now, but everybody should not be penalized for the abuses of a few. The professional community needs to have more respect for the public that largely funds their work.

Distrust is the cause of the problem.  Information and understanding is the cure.

Those who break the law prefer secrecy.  A better informed and involved public will protect their heritage.  Most law breakers prefer secrecy.  The public, with eyes everywhere, will help police sensitive sites.

I am certainly not in favor of looting, and the people I know, and I know a lot of people that are interested in history, archaeology and metal detecting, as well as grandmas who have picked up an arrowhead knowingly or unknowingly while collecting sea shells, will do the right thing.  They would also more gladly support archaeology if they felt like a part of the process instead of being treated like a suspect.

The use of the term "private gain" always gets me.  How can people who make a good career out of a discipline pretend they are not personally gaining from the activity?

People who sell archaeological items are always villainized.  Museums both purchase items and sell items they no longer want.

It is always said that the Isolated Finds Program failed.  What criteria was used?  What percent of the public ever heard of it? Go out and ask a thousand people and see if you find one or two people who knows what it was, never mind understanding it.  By what criteria did it fail?

Yes there have been abuses and will be abuses, but do not penalize the public and as a result the academic community.  I am sure that better solutions, such as those mentioned by Leroy can be implemented.  Fear of the public does not serve the public, and it does not promote archaeology.

I didn't mean to write so much.  I am not so much against the views that are expressed in the above letter as it might seem.  I just wanted to present the other perspective.  Archaeology and the public needs to learn to work together without fear and suspicion.

Thanks again Leroy!

Here is a web site provided by The Florida Public Archaeology Network.  It has the title Frequently Asked Questions about Collecting from State Lands.  Take a look.

I could provide comments to their answers too, but I won't right now.  It is good to know both sides of an issue.


We had a west winds and a smooth surf for a couple of days.  The wind will turn to a north wind Saturday afternoon and the surf will start to increase a little.

We're having some nice negative tides.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2/11/16 Report - Surface Analysis Of Corroded Reales: Part II.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Yesterday I left off discussing the following excerpt from a study of seven 8-reales from the wrecksite of the San Pedro.  I'll discuss a little more of that study today.

Here is that excerpt (no. 3) again.

The large amounts of iron found in the concretions and as distinct films on the coins recovered from a buried microenvironment is consistent with the history of the site. The majority of the surfaces of coins 4325, 4327, and 4331 were covered with a layer of pure hydrated iron oxides, such as FeOOH.xH2O. The films are compact and of relatively uniform thickness. The deposition of this material is likely to have occurred during the salvaging of the João Diogo as a continuous film that was subsequently eroded/corroded away in areas to reveal underlying layers of silver halides. The absence of iron on coins 4315, 4030 and 4342 is a reflection that these coins are highly eroded and corroded and have very little concretion.

The authors of the study believed that iron oxide accumulated on the coins came from the Joao Diogo wreck, a later wreck that scattered over the San Pedro wrecksite.  I feel certain that if they later wreck was not in the area, there would still be some coins showing some iron oxide.  Cobs from 1715 Fleet beaches sometimes show the iron rust appearance.  All it takes is for a silver coin to rest on or near iron objects such as cannons or spikes.  I've commented on the rust-like residue seen on some reales found on Treasure Coast beaches.

As the last sentence in the excerpt suggests, layers of corrosion can also be eroded off of coins, especially when they are end up getting tossed about in the surf and sand.

In the same way that iron products get transferred to coins at times, a similar thing can happen with other metals.

In nautical archaeology galvanic corrosion is an important topic.  It was observed that copper sheathing would cause iron spikes to rapidly corrode, for example.  Also, cleaning by electrolysis makes use of a similar process.

Here is link to a web site about galvanic corrosion.

And here is a table showing how susceptible different metals are to galvanic corrosion.  The table shows copper as being more cathodic than iron, which means iron will be drawn to copper, as in the example I mentioned concerning copper sheathing and iron spikes.  Forgive my simple explanation. Chemistry was one of my least favorite subjects, and really don't know much about it.
Most Cathodic
Gold, solid and plated, Gold-platinum alloy−0.00
Rhodium plated on silver-plated copper−0.05
Silver, solid or plated; monel metal. High nickel-copper alloys−0.15
Nickel, solid or plated, titanium an s alloys, Monel−0.30
Copper, solid or plated; low brasses or bronzes; silver solder; German silvery high copper-nickel alloys; nickel-chromium alloys−0.35
Brass and bronzes−0.40
High brasses and bronzes−0.45
18% chromium type corrosion-resistant steels−0.50
Chromium plated; tin plated; 12% chromium type corrosion-resistant steels−0.60
Tin-plate; tin-lead solder−0.65
Lead, solid or plated; high lead alloys−0.70
2000 series wrought aluminum−0.75
Iron, wrought, gray or malleable, plain carbon and low alloy steels−0.85
Aluminum, wrought alloys other than 2000 series aluminum, cast alloys of the silicon type−0.90
Aluminum, cast alloys other than silicon type, cadmium, plated and chromate−0.95
Hot-dip-zinc plate; galvanized steel−1.20
Zinc, wrought; zinc-base die-casting alloys; zinc plated−1.25
Magnesium & magnesium-base alloys, cast or wrought−1.75
Most Anodic
Note that zinc is near the bottom of the list.  It is very anodic.  That probably explains at least partly why zinc pennies hold up so poorly in salt water.  On the other hand, gold is at the top of the list and normally shows no effect of being in the water for centuries.

    Excerpt 4.

    Since the San Pedro de Alcantara site is an area of constant and aggressive surge action, erosion corrosion plays a major role in the deterioration of metals on this site. The coins 4342, 4030 and 4315 were found lying on top of the sediment and their much higher mass loss is a measure of the erosion effect. Prior to recovery, coin 4315 was lying flat on top of a thin layer of sediment in a shallow bedrock hole, which meant it was fully exposed to water and sediment movement, and this resulted in more than a 60% mass loss. 

    I've commented about the loss of mass seen on many Treasure Coast beach-found cobs in previous posts.  Some are less than half of their minted weight.  Such coins likely come from exposed areas with rough surf like those mentioned in this excerpt.  Tumbling in the surf zone is surely a factor.

    Excerpt 5.

    Calcareous concretions, especially those that grow in tropical waters tend to be somewhat porous and good conductors for the corroding metal they cover (MacLeod, 1982). In contrast, iron oxide films tend to be poor ionic and electrical conductors and can passivate the underlying corroding metal. There is a clear discrepancy between the preservation of those coin surfaces that are covered by iron oxide films and those that are not. Where the surface of coins 4325 is covered by an iron oxide film the raised design is well preserved, while the surfaces without the protective iron have the design obliterated. Clearly the iron oxide films are providing erosion and corrosion resistance to the coin surfaces they cover. 

    That does not require additional comment.

    I've probably carried on with this too long, but many of my casual observations and conclusions were verified and elaborated by this study.  To me it was validation.  It added to my understanding of the processes involved.  I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

    Whether you understand all of it or not (I don't) you might benefit from wading through it to take what you can from it.

    I didn't comment on the parts the explain the corrosion processes, such as how silver coins develop different layers, even though that information also expanded upon some of my personal observations.

    The main point in looking at this study is to reinforce the idea that if you study your finds and understand how they got to look like they do, you'll then be able to draw conclusions about where they have been and where they are coming from.  When you know something about the source of those coins, you'll have some good information about where to look for more of them.


    I received some good information relative to the proposed citizen archaeology permit.  I need to discuss that some day.

    I also have some other good things too discuss in the future.

    On the Treasure Coast beaches we've been having a small surf and will for a couple more days.

    I have to go.

    Happy hunting,

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    2/10/16 Report - How To Locate More Old Coins - Surface Analysis Of Corroded Reales

    Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

    Yesterday I said I was going to present a study of how silver reales are affected by the ocean environment.  The title of the study is Surface analysis of corroded silver coins from the wreck of the San Pedro De Alcantara (1786).  The authors are I.D. MacLeod  and E. Schindelholz.

    A detailed morphological study of the corroded surfaces of the seven coins was conducted using low pressure scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analysis.

    You can access the original study by using the following link.

    The sample consisted of seven 8-reales that were minted in Lima between 1772 an 1788.  Those are the Carolus III type.  That obviously isn't a large sample size.

    As the study says, the wreck site of the San Pedro scattered over 200 metres long in water 3-9 metres deep, lying off a rocky coast near Peniche, Portugal. The sea bottom consists of irregular rocks, with numerous cavities and crevices filled with up to 0.5 metres of stone and sand.

    I'll present some excerpts from the study and then add my comments.  Here is the first excerpt.

    The degree of preservation of the recovered coins related to their location on the wrecksite. Coins 4324, 4325, 4327 and 4331, which were found buried under 15cm of coarse sediment, have more or less retained their original dimensions. Coins 4315, 4030, and 4342, which were found lying atop the seabed, have lost a majority of their original surface and dimensions. 

    The first sentence in the above excerpt supports a main point that I presented yesterday.  Where a coin spends its time determines what happens to it, therefore if you know how various environments affect certain types of coins, you can then look at a coin and get an idea of where it came from.

    As I have documented and mentioned in this blog in the past, many beach-found cobs weigh much less than their minted weight.  They have lost significant amounts of material.

    This study shows, however, that cobs that were buried under 15cm of sediment were not corroded that much.  They were protected by the sediment.

    It should be noted that this wreck site was in 3 to 9 meters of water. The deeper the water, the less the bottom sediments will be churned by the waves.  Also in deeper water, the bottom sediments will generally be more fine.  The passage of a wave only affects the water down to the wave base, which is half the wave length. Below that depth there is negligible water movement, so the sand will not be moved unless conditions are unusually rough.

    Unlike the protected coins, coins that were found lying exposed had lost material.  

    For coins to wash up onto a beach, they must be uncovered and go through the rough and turbulent zone at the front of the beach where the waves crash and the sand is churned.  Coins that are in excellent shape most likely did not come through that zone.

    So how can you find old coins on a beach that look almost like new?  One way is that they can come from the dunes rather than being washed up.  I also supposed that there are rare occasions when coins can remain protected for very long periods of time only to be exposed and washed up by very unusual conditions such as a hurricane without spending much time in the rough surf.

    Here is the second excerpt.

    There was only one coin (no.4325) with any significant amount of concretion; the deposits consisted of sand-sized to pebble-sized sedimentary particles and small shells bound together by calcareous concretion (see Figure 2). Coins 4325, 4331, 4324, and 4327 all have considerable amounts of iron corrosion products on their surfaces.

    Concreted Coin 4325.

    Coin 4325 (left) was concreted.  It was one of the four coins that were found covered by 15cm of coarse sediment, and the only one of the four with significant concretion. So why was this one encrusted while the other three were not?

    The immediate environment of a coin can affect what happens to it.  Note the appearance of rust on this particular coin.  I've seen that on some beach-found cobs and mentioned that in this blog in the past.

    Here is another excerpt from the study.  I'll call it excerpt 3.   It provides a clue as to why coins like 4325 have rust on the surface.

    The large amounts of iron found in the concretions and as distinct films on the coins recovered from a buried microenvironment is consistent with the history of the site. The majority of the surfaces of coins 4325, 4327, and 4331 were covered with a layer of pure hydrated iron oxides, such as FeOOH.xH2O. The films are compact and of relatively uniform thickness. The deposition of this material is likely to have occurred during the salvaging of the João Diogo as a continuous film that was subsequently eroded/corroded away in areas to reveal underlying layers of silver halides. The absence of iron on coins 4315, 4030 and 4342 is a reflection that these coins are highly eroded and corroded and have very little concretion.

    I am not so sure that the Joao Diogo wreck, which occurred later in the area of the San Pedro, is the entire reason for the concretion.  I plan to address that tomorrow or sometime soon when I continue this discussion.  That is as far as I can go with it today.

    You might wonder why all of this is important.  The answer is that if you understand how the environment affects coins and other objects, you can look at the object and get a good idea where it has been.  That can help lead you to the source and the possible location of additional items.


    I didn't get many emails concerning the proposed citizen archaeology permit that is being considered in the Florida legislation.  I hope that does not mean that the metal detecting community is becoming apathetic.  If you don't stay informed and active, you can expect to encounter more and more legislation that will prohibit or limit metal detecting.

    If you did not read that post, I'd recommend that you go back and check out the sources and become informed on the issues.

    One link provided a list of emails of Florida representatives.  Please make your feelings on the subject known to them.  Apathy is a good way to lose freedom.


    There was a whale and baby in the Sebastian Inlet.  Crowds were able to see these magnificent mammals.  That was a rare opportunity.

    Here is a link to the story.


    We got another cool front and will have the west wind for another day.  The surf remains small.

    Happy hunting,

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016

    2/9/16 Report - Silver Marks. Finds As Clues:Part I. Billion Dollar Wreck:Treasure of the Republic.

    Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

    Silver Pipe Mount On Pipe.
    Yesterday I showed the marked silver item found by Dan B.  I found what I think might be the answer.

    It looks to be a flattened pipe mount.  The makers mark "HPandS" likely stands for Henry Perkins and Sons of London.  The year mark "n" could be 1928 or 1908.  They are similar and I haven't studied them well enough to tell the difference.

    Here is a dictionary of marks where the Henry Perkins and Sons mark can be seen.

    And you can find the year marks at this site.

    There is a lot of information to be found on marked silver.  Too bad it isn't so easy to research most other things.


    There is no better clue than a find.  As I've shown in the polls that I conducted in this blog, if you make one find the probability is very good that you will make more finds of a similar age or type. You can look at all kinds of things, including the shape of the beach, the wind and waves, and everything else, but the very best indicator is a find.  Nothing else is quite as good at telling when you are at a good location at the right time.

    But not only does the presence of an item tell you something important, the condition and appearance of a find can also tell you a lot.  Is it old or new?  Is it worn or not?  Does it have a patina, and if so what kind? Those things can provide helpful information.

    I've shown many silver coins and cobs found by different people at different times, including those found by salvage crews and even some from other states.  You've seen how different those cobs can look, especially before they are cleaned.

    When I was digging one location up north, the old cuprous coins were all in very bad shape.  The soil there seemed to really corrode copper coins, while the silver coins often came up looking shiny and nice.  Different environments affect coins differently.

    Beach coins are affected by a lot of things.  Salt water has a big effect on silver coins.  They start to turn black in very short order.  Besides the amount of salt water they are exposed to, they can be buried in different types of sand or around other metals that can have an affect on their appearance.

    Some of the beach zones are very turbulent.  I've shown clad quarters, dimes and pennies bent in half.  I believe that happens when coins are caught between rocks in the turbulent surf zone.  Tons of force caused by water and shifting rocks, shells and sand can work on anything caught in that zone.

    Objects in deeper water and objects buried in the dunes are much more protected.  In deep water there is not nearly the same amount of force on objects that is encountered in the surf zone.  And objects buried in the dunes might seldom be touched by salt water.  Rain water has a much less corrosive effect.

    In the surf zone, objects can be tumbled and sand blasted having the same type of effect on coins that you see on frosted sea glass.  If the items are buried under enough sand or buried in a crack or pot hole, they can be protected from much of that.

    The point that I want to make today is that silver beach coins are affected by a lot of different things that can affect their appearance, and the appearance of a coin can tell you something about its past and where it has been hiding and where it came from.  If you study those clues, that can lead you to more finds.

    Tomorrow I plan to show you a scientific study on how ocean environment chemically alters silver reales.  Although I already pointed out some of the facts revealed by this study, I'm glad that I found a scientific study that confirms some of the things that I have been saying.


    The price of gold has been going up for the past couple of weeks.


    Former Island resident Martin Bayerle’s 35-year search for a reputed billion-dollar treasure, sunk off Nantucket for more than a hundred years, comes to life at 10 pm on Feb. 8, in the first episode of an eight-part series from the History Channel.
    “Billion Dollar Wreck: The Mysterious Treasure of the Republic” chronicles Mr. Bayerle’s most recent effort to find $3 million (1909 value) in American Eagle gold coins, worth more than a billion dollars today, thought to be aboard the luxury liner RMS Republic, which sank about 50 miles off Nantucket on Jan. 24, 1909, while being towed back to New York after colliding with another ship...

    Here is the link for more of that article.  Thanks to Dean for the link.


    The wind switched again.  This morning it is from the north again.  It seems like it has been switching every day.  It has been a lot to keep up with, but not much change.  We've had nothing that has lasted long enough to do much of anything.

    Happy hunting,

    Monday, February 8, 2016

    2/8/16 Report - Nicely Marked and Monogrammed Silver Tag or Label Find.


    Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

    Marked Silver Found by Dan B.
    Dan B. found this monogrammed silver label or tag.  The monogram seems to me to be "FMH."  Maybe that is it.

    This is a very good example of marked silver.  Nice find Dan!

    Notice also the marks to the left of that.  I think the top mark (HP??) is the makers mark.

    Closer View of Marks.
    It should not be too difficult to identify the makers mark.  There are comprehensive lists of silver makers marks.

    The one mark that I am fairly confident about is the lion.  The walking lion indicates that the silver is sterling (.925 pure).

    I can't really make out the mark on the right.  The "n" could be the date letter.  Letters indicate a specific date.  The font or style of the letter is important.  There are letter sequences in different styles.

    I am assuming that this is British silver.  I'm not absolutely sure of that.

    Maybe someone who has studies silver marks or has more time to research it can help Dan.  Let me know if you can add information.

    Here is one good source for looking up silver marks.

    The tag seems to be over an inch long.  I wonder if it might be a label for a wine bottle.  It seems to be about the right size and shape, but I don't see where it might be attached to a chain, and many quality wine labels are more ornate.

    What do you think?

    Here is one web site where you can view antique silver wine labels.


    That is a nice instructive example of marked silver.  If you haven't investigated something like that before, this will provide a good exercise.  Look into the web sites and try to figure out the marks.

    I have a couple other posts that I'm working on, but they aren't ready yet.  I'll therefore leave that for some other day.

    Please let me know if you figure out some of these marks or can figure out what the item might be.

    I also suggest you take a look at yesterday's post if you haven't already, and send me your thoughts on the citizen archaeology permit proposed legislation.  Also, express your feelings to your representatives.

    Happy hunting,

    Sunday, February 7, 2016

    2/7/16 Report - Florida Laws and Proposed Legislation. Citizen Archaeology Permit. Your Attention and Action Is Needed.

    Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

    Before I get started on my main topic today, here is look at a couple of the Treasure Coast beaches.

    Frederick Douglas and John Brooks Beaches Saturday Morning.

    The wind has changed direction.  The swells are from the east.  I didn't seen anything but very small cuts and am not expecting any real good hunting in the next few days.  We'll be having a west wind until Monday afternoon.

    I wish that the strong north wind would have continued.

    Gosports1 emailed me a link to something you need to know about.  The Florida Legislation is working on a bill that will provide for a citizen archaeology permit.

    Here is link to a Forbes article that will give you some background.  The of the article is Florida Archaeologists Condemn Proposed Citizen Archaeology Permit.

    I suggest you read that article carefully.  It will give you some good information.

    Below is a link to the proposed new wording for House Bill 803 and Senate Bill 1054.

    I'll post some of the important proposed changes immediately below.  (Underlined words are proposed additions to the existing legislation and stricken words are to be deleted.  The blue high-lighted section is a mistake.)

    I am not going to comment on this yet.  For one thing, I want to study it more and think about the likely intended and unintended consequences.  Secondly, I'd like to get your comments before giving mine.  Send them to

    Here is a link that provides the relevant existing laws.

    And if you want to contact your Florida representatives, you can get the email addresses at this FMDAC web site.

    I'm going to leave it at that for now even though  I could probably write a thousand pages about this.  I plan to post my thoughts some time in the future after you have a chance look into it and become more informed.

    The main force behind these proposals seems to be the Tri State Archaeological Society.  You can google that if you wish.


    Happy hunting,

    Friday, February 5, 2016

    2/6/16 Report - Strong North Wind Moves A Little Treasure Coast Sand Friday.

    Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

    South of Turtle Trail Friday After Low Tide


    Pirate Fest will be in Fort Pierce at Veteran's Park this weekend.  Here is the link for more information.


    Thursday the wind at the beach was blowing north to south.  Friday it switched around and was blowing strong from north to south.  I thought it might start to do something to the beach so I went out to see.

    As you can see from the picture above, there was a small amount of erosion.

    Some sand was lost but not a lot.  Around noon it looked like a foot or so of sand had been removed from the beach front.  The blue bags were not visible yet.

    If the north wind continues through the evening or overnight, the bags might reappear.

    Here is a picture from the Turtle Trail beach access.

    View From Turtle Trail Beach Access Around Noon Friday.

    The view from Seagrape Trail looked similar.  Just a little sand had been removed.  Here it is.

    View  From Seagrape Trail Beach Access Friday Just After Low Tide.

    Fort Pierce South Inlet Beach Park Thursday Afternoon

    On Thursday, as I said, the wind was blowing the opposite direction.  Above you can see how the south wind was moving a little sand from the front of the beach at Fort Pierce South Inlet Beach.

    There are three steps there now, and about a seven foot cliff near the inlet.

    Walton Rocks Showed No Cuts Thrusday.

    The wind will be more from the northeast on Saturday.  If the wind keeps blowing at a good direction something might develop in the next day or two.


    Be sure to read Laura's research that I posted for 2/5/16.  It's great.

    I have something else I'm working on that I think will be really good.  I had it started, but lost several paragraphs just a short time ago.

    Happy hunting,