Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/23/14 Report - Important Meeting, Changing Laws, A Couple Wreck Sites, and Discrimination

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Copper Sheathing After Wood Wreck Has Disappeared.
Source: Cover of the NOAA study referenced below.
I need to address something important today, and there are only a couple of days remaining to do it.

I need to alert you to an important meeting this Friday.   Below is a flyer with details that I received by email from Wes B. 

Note the time and place given in the last paragraph: Friday April 25 at 5 PM at FIT in Melborne.

If you want to know what could happen with wreck salvage under Federal law you might want to attend.

As background, here is a link to an overview study funded by NOAA entitled Underwater Cultural Heritage Law Study, 2014-005.

You might want to browse this for multiple reasons.   First, it gives a good overview of the relevant law, explaining, for example, the Black Swan case that resulted in Odyssey Marine returning salvaged materials from the Mercedes to Spain.  You might be surprised by how much is covered by this body of law and how far reaching it can be.

If you don't know why global warming is so important to some in politics, take a careful look at this study.  In this study you will see links to references explaining how oil companies and other private energy related companies first discovered three 19th Century shipwrecks and then funded government archaeological investigations of those shipwrecks (See photo below). Issues such as pollution and global warming provide much regulatory and financial leverage for government activities and touch almost everything you do from flushing your toilet to the batteries you use to power your detector.

Maybe you thought NOAA was all about weather.

You might not feel like reading the entire study, but at least browse through it.

You might want to take a look at the section on Common Law of Finds.  The concept of "abandonment" seems to be overlooked, as I would define it.  When is something "abandoned," and when does a ship cease to exist?   It would seem to me that a pile of unidentifiable or barely identifiable wreckage is no longer a ship.   Definitions are important.  They can be used and abused.

The Ewing Bank Wreck Photomosaic by Dan Warren, C&C Technologies.

Here is something that isn't quite as heavy.  See if you can guess what the following is?  It is something I picked up on a walk the other day.  I'll give you the answer tomorrow.  There is one pretty obvious answer, but that isn't it.

Discrimination or discrimination?

When metal detecting, there is more than one way to discriminate.  You can let the detector do it for you by using a discrimination knob to completely eliminate a complete range of less desirable signals, or use a fancier form of discrimination, such as notch discrimination, or use sophisticated  graphic digital output. 

Another way to discriminate is to use all-metals or pin-point mode and let your brain do the processing.  If you learn to hear what your detector is telling you, you don't need to discriminate out signals altogether or read a graphic display.  You can learn to interpret approximate size, general shape, depth, and metallic composition by listening to a simple auditory signal.  That takes a little time and training, but can be just as or even more effective.   Of course, some detectors provide more information in the auditory signal than others, but you don't need anything very fancy to get a lot of information from the auditory signal.   What it takes is time and practice.

I will continue with this some other time.

Treasure Coast beach detecting conditions remain poor.  The surf on Wednesday will be only about three feet and then decrease more for a couple of days.  


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4/22/14 Report - Denominations Of Silver Treasure Cobs Found On Treasure Coast Beaches And Why

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Going back to the eighties it has been my observation that more low denomination cobs are found on the Treasure Coast wreck beaches than high denomination cobs.  There are eight and four reales found on the beach, but not as many as the lower denomination cobs. 

Of the cobs found on the Atocha and Margarita, which can't be compared to 1715 Fleet wrecks for more than one reason, 8 reales are most numerous (63%), followed by 4 reales (22%).  2 reales were rare (15%), while 1 reales were scarce (.001 %).  1/2 reales recovered from those two wrecks are almost non-existent.  It appears that cobs of the larger denominations were chosen for bulk transport of the Crown's silver.  That makes sense.

That information came from the Odyssey Marine Paper (30), 2013.

By the way, there were no gold coins listed on the Margarita or Atocha manifests, although at least 77 were found on the Margarita site and 128 on the Atocha site.   Those were undoubtedly the personal property of individuals.  

Alan Craig in Spanish Colonial Silver Coins in the Florida Collection states, Since the Florida Collection is based on samples of bulk specie being shipped back to Spain, it is deficient in these small denominations that were usually retained in the New World to support daily commerce.  Those that were  placed on board treasure galleons often did not survive well in the corrosive marine environments...   HE goes on to say, Eights dominated colonial mint production...

OK.  So large denomination reales were a good choice for the bulk transfer of silver, and small denomination cobs were needed in the New World for daily commerce.  That all seems to support the idea that more large denomination coins would be found on the treasure ships.

I don't, however, buy the idea that smaller denominations disappeared in great numbers due to corrosion.  They do indeed corrode, but the numbers found on the beaches do not seem to me to agree with that idea.  They might be corroded but you can usually tell pretty much what they are.

Commenting on the small number of small denomination cobs in the Florida Collection, Craig says, The contrast between large denominations recovered from salvaged shipwrecks of the 1715 Plate Fleet is easily seen beginning with the year 1710.

Taking 1714 as a prime year for 1715 Fleet cobs, the Florida Collection, as of the time Craig's 2000 book was written, contained 288 eight-reales, 81 four-reales, 2 two-reales. 2 one-reales, and 3 half-reales.

That is very different from what I have observed being found on the Treasure Coast beaches.  I've seen a lot more half reales, followed by a good number of one and two-reales, with very few four and eight reales that were found on the beaches.  That is almost the opposite of the sample in the Florida Collection.

I did a poll in this blog once and found that the results supported the idea that more small denomination cobs were found on Treasure Coast beaches.

Some beaches, such as Bonsteel, to name one, is known for the small cobs that are most often found there.  Not only are they small denomination cobs, but they are also worn down.

Bonsteel, not being associated with a nearby wreck, might be an exception.  From what I've seen though, some other beaches produce a big disproportion of small denomination cobs.  That could be more true in the last ten years than it was in earlier years when I believe more detectorists were missing the smaller denomination cobs on the beaches.

I know that there are places and times when eight reales and four reale cobs have been found on Treasure Coast wreck beaches.  I'm just talking about overall relative numbers.

In 1713 the Mexico mint produced about four times the number of eight reales as half-reales.  I don't have the numbers for 1714.   In the years leading up to the 1715 Fleet, there were times when nearly ten times more eight reales were produced than half-reales. 

All things considered, I believe that higher numbers of small denomination cobs are found on the Treasure Coast beaches than are salvaged from the water.   I know I haven't provided an iron-clad closed case.   Maybe some day I'll take the time to get this all put together better.

Here are some possible reasons why smaller denomination cobs are found so disproportionately on the beaches even though it would seem from what I've read that there should be many more large denomination cobs on the treasure ships.

1.  Smaller cobs are washed up onto the beach more easily and frequently than larger cobs which tend to remain out in deeper water.
2.  Smaller denomination cobs might for some reason be salvaged first by the Spanish salvors.  For example, maybe they were personal property and so the owners traveling with them made sure to get them out.
3.  Maybe they weren't carried in the depths of the cargo areas.
4.  Maybe they were used for commerce during salvage operations.
5.  Once salvaged, maybe they were more easily lost or left behind in the surf and sand of the beach.
6.  Maybe they were not cared for quite as carefully.

I'd like to hear what you think.   Let me know if you have any additional reasons or think any of these ideas are not likely true.

On the Treasure Coast today we have the wind coming out of the North/Northwest.  Doesn't seem like much wind at all.  The surf is supposed to be up to about five feet today and declining for a week or so.

On the basis of what I saw yesterday, I'm not expecting much good to happen.

Happy hunting,

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21/14 Report - Beach Conditions This Afternoon, Two Found Rings, Identifying a Spanish Shipwreck and Spanish Colonial Shards

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

One Treasure Coast Beach Just After High Tide.
The surf increased some today and the wind was coming out of the North.  As a result I wanted to get out and take a look at what was going on the beach before I finished this post. 

I did take a look just after high tide this afternoon, and despite the wind direction and increase in surf, the swells were not coming in at much of an angle, and most importantly, it was not removing any sand.  In fact, as you can see from the photos, there was a lot of seaweed on the beach - usually a bad sign.

I took a look at four different beaches and they all looked pretty much alike.  There might be some slight erosion out there somewhere, but I didn't find it this afternoon.

Everything I saw looked poor.   Not even any shell piles to look through.

Here is a quick video showing the beach and wave action.  It was just after high tide.


Most of what follows was posted earlier today before I got out to the beach.

The local Channel 5 News gave a news story about a ring that was lost at the beach and then found and returned two years after it was lost.  Instead of this ring being found and returned by a detectorist, this ring was eye-balled by a lady at the beach.  I think the unusual engraving inside the band is one thing that helped this ring get returned after it was posted on facebook.

Here is the link.

An Easter miracle story of a wedding band lost and found one year later.


It can be difficult to find the identity of a shipwreck, especially a wreck that is hundreds of years old.  We know the names of the Margarita and Atocha.  Those are two very famous wrecks from the 1622 Tierra Firma Fleet, but there were other smaller ships in that fleet that were not as valuable and not carrying the Crown's property and so weren't as well documented.   It could be especially confusing because a ship was often referred to by different names or referred to by the name of the owner or captain.   Multiple vessels also carried the same name.   All of that can make it very confusing and can make it very difficult to identify a particular wreck.

Below is a link to an article found on the Odyssey Marine web site which shows how they attempted to identify the wreck of a small navio from the Tierra Firme fleet that was lost off the Florida Keys on the 5th of September in 1622.  This paper has a lot of good reading for anyone interested in the shipwrecks of the Keys.  Many shipwrecks are discussed.   Here is one little sample from the paper.

The Rosario was subsequently located by a salvage operation on 24 September 1622 “grounded on one of the keys”.  All the crew and passengers were saved and the wooden structure above the waterline burned to expose the treasure within the hull, resulting in the recovery of all the silver and 20 pieces of artillery (AGI Santo Domingo 132; Lyon, 1989). Following the salvage of equipment valued at more than 6,000 or 7,000 ducats, another report confirmed that Vargas “began the operation of salvaging the silver, first setting fire to the galleon, to burn it down to water-level.  In this way he recovered all the treasure, artillery, and copper which she carried and brought it all back... 

Here is the link.

Not long ago we had some good samples of beach shards.   Here is a good article on Spanish colonial shipwreck pottery and ceramics.

The surf on the Treasure Coast should be a touch higher this evening and still coming out of the North.  At least that is what the surfing web sites are predicting.

I've been doing some study on some other stuff that I might have ready for you tomorrow or some other day.

That's all for today.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, April 19, 2014

4/19/14 Report - Gold Crucifix Beach Find, Muntz Metal Find, and Clarification On 1715 Fleet Salvage Contracts

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Here is an especially appropriate Good Friday find. When it comes to Easter I tend to think more of the empty tomb than a crucifix.

Do you know what the INRI means?  You'll see it a lot of the time on a crucifix.

The letters “INRI” are initials for the Latin title  that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:19).  Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire.

The words were "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm." Latin uses “I” instead of the English “J”, and “V” instead of “U” (i.e., Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum). The English translation is "Jesus of Nazareth," the King of the Jews."

Here is the link to a web site giving that information.

I received this photo of a piece of Muntz metal and the following email message from Greg S.

Muntz Metal Found
Find and photo by Greg S.
Although I live near Galveston Texas I read your blog daily. Your recent blog about Muntz metal reminded me of some pieces I found on Galveston. The attached picture is a piece I found with partial patent still visible. I sent this picture to a treasure hunter what is it forum. I was told it was sheeting with the Muntz patent.  Was kinda exciting to know this was possibly from mid 1800s. Maybe a ship.

Notice the illustration of the patent mark on the paper in the photo.  You can see the actual mark on the bottom left of the piece of metal in the same photo.

Thanks Greg! 

It is always nice to find good marking on any find.

Sometimes you might not see marks at first, and you might have to clean the item or look it over a few times before you do find any marks. 

Look finds over very closely for any significant marks.

Some of my wording in my yesterday's post was sloppy and inaccurate.  That is a first!  Not!!!

Anyhow, Brent Brisben sent in the precise language and details to clear up the matter.  Here is what Brent said.

Just wanted to clarify something in your latest report.  The Cabin wreck is salvaged under the State of Florida S-27 Salvage Contract which is issued each year in the names of my company and Chris James' company Double Anchor Salvage. Neither party owns the Cabin wreck site. All wrecks are salvaged under the direct permission and complete control of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. My company is the US District Court Custodian for all the identified 1715 wreck sites. Sometimes referred to as the Federal Admiralty Claim.

Thanks Brent! 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out yesterday's post and take a look at the photo of the gold and diamond studded finds.

On the Treasure Coast we have around a three foot surf today.  The surf will be about the same tomorrow.

The wind, however will be coming out of the North today and tomorrow and then on Sunday the surf will be a little higher.

Happy Easter,

Friday, April 18, 2014

4/18/14 Report - Story Behind Fabulous 1715 Fleet Finds - Gold and Diamond Brooch, Ear Rings, and Tooth Picks

Written by the TreasureGuide for the

1715 Fleet Treasures
Picture submitted by Bruce Beck.

In my 4/9 post I had some information about some big finds made on the Treasure Coast.  It started after I mentioned the 1715 Fleet diamond ring that is the current Sedwick auction.  Bruce Beck was kind enough to help set the record straight. 

Christopher James, Bruce's dive partner, added the following.

 Hey there you are correct about the butterfly brooch but not correct about the rest. I did indeed find the butterfly on my own but also went back and found the large brooch containing 170 diamonds in it and the gold snowflake toothpick before the boat was pulled over to the spot. And Bob found the earing containing 54 diamonds and I found the other one three days later. They started blowing with the boat after that. I do believe that the large stone to the center of the round brooch is still out there and is about 10 carats, according to Captain John Wilson.

Did you get that?  It sounds like the 10 carat diamond is still out there to be found.  Maybe it will wash up on the beach some day.  Keep your eyes open!

Bruce provided the picture above that was in the magazine article about the find.

Note the toothpicks as well as the diamond studded brooch and ear rings.  Those are some really neat finds.

Thanks much Bruce.

Every year Mel Fisher Days is held in Key West.  This year it will be from July 10 - 13.  You can get more information at

You undoubtedly know that it took 16 years to find the Atocha and the $450 million dollars of treasure.

Horse Tooth in Jaw Bone.
It is always good to check your equipment out before you need it.  Don't forget to check your backup detector if you have one.  Make sure the batteries are still good and that you have fresh batteries on hand. 

Also, it is a good idea to check your detectors and batteries before you put them in the car.  It is a real bummer to get there, and when you are all ready to get started, find that your detector isn't working.    That is a real pain.

Here is a different type of find.  It was found in shallow water.   It isn't fossilized and still has part of the jaw bone.  It's about three inches high.

On the Treasure Coast today the surf is up to about five or six feet.  The wind was strong last night a time or two.  It could have moved some sand, but I don't expect much due to the fact that the wind was out of the East and is going to be out of the Southeast the rest of the day while the surf decreases.

The surf is predicted to decrease for a couple of days.

Happy hunting,


Thursday, April 17, 2014

4/17/14 Report - Another Bunch of Finds, Buttons and Coins, Cannon Ball, Semiole War Items, Surf & Erosion

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

As you've been seeing from some of my recent posts this month, some guys have really been cleaning up with the artifacts and silver coins.

Great US Coat Button Find
Find and photo by SW.
SW has been detecting a Seminole War era site where he found all the following listed items.  And he says there is still more left to be found.

Here is a listing of his finds.

Period finds; 1 Dragoon button, 1 Artillery button, 1 Great Coat button, 1 unmarked flat button, 1 4 hole button, 1 brass clip, 1 Jeweled screw, 3 copper nails / tacks, 2 round balls, 2 other bullets, 1 2 1/2 inch Iron ring, 1 8 inch iron ring (both badly deteriorated) and other unidentified items.

Modern items; 1 silver Quarter 1948,
2 silver dimes 1952-54,
3 wheat pennies 38, 42, 57,
1 George Junior Republic token 1946.

Clad; 7 Quarters, 11 dimes, 4 nickels oldest 1947, 48 pennies.

18 Pound Cannon Ball
Photo by SW
He said, A ton of trash was removed,   I only hunted a small portion of the lot. I know better items are there.  Good luck to the next guy.   

Thanks for sharing SW.  Great finds!

And some people think there is nothing left to be found. 

SW also said,
I acquired this cannon ball on the 7th.  The story I got, it was collected by a dock contractor from the Dry Tortugas. The book, out of the blue, I ordered on the 4th!! I think my next book will be on Gold Cobs!!! The guy with the cannons should contact me maybe we can identify the age and country of origin. The Ball is an 18 pounder unknown age. ...  I am researching a pirate site for my next project.

As I've been showing there are still good sites out there if you do your research and get permission.

I went out to take a look at the beach this morning.  Most of the cuts that I showed yesterday had already disappeared.  The sea was rough.  The water was coming up onto the flat beach at high tide.

We had the expected higher high tide.  The trouble is that the wind also changed direction and the water was now hitting the beach pretty much from the East.  

Wind and water direction, which are correlated, are among the most important factors for predicting erosion.   Surf height and tides are also included, but in my opinion the angle that the water hits the beach is most important.

Just the other day when we got the cuts that I showed, there was very little surf.  Now the surf is bigger and the erosion mostly all but disappeared.


This is what the water looked like at one 1715 Fleet beach this morning.  Pretty rough.

Later today the surf is supposed to be bigger and then decreasing tomorrow.  It looks like the wind will be coming more from the South, which won't be any help.

Based upon what I saw today, I'm not expecting a beach conditions upgrade now.

Happy hunting,


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/16/14 Report - Odyssey Marine, SS Central America, Copper Sheathing, Northeast Wind & Erosion

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Treasure Coast Beach This Afternoon.

We had a good northeast wind on the Treasure Coast this morning.   That surprised me a little.  After watching it a while, I thought I should go check out the beach even though the surf was supposed to be small.
This picture shows the same beach that I showed yesterday.  The top cliff is from yesterday.  The bottom cliff is from last night, or more likely, this mornings high tide during the northeast wind.
You can see that a foot or more of sand got removed since yesterday, and this wasn't the most eroded spot.

Same Beach Just a Little North.
In some spots more sand got removed today.  The second picture shows where there was about a four foot cut.  It ran a good distance too.  It was about a two foot cut yesterday and two more feet gone today.
This cut beach that I'm showing was the most cut of any that I saw today.  Other beaches were nothing like this one.
I checked it out simply because the wind looked promising.  There were very very few signals though.  I'm not going to increase my beach conditions rating despite the sizable cut on this one beach.  I will however issue an alert.  If things continue to improve we might get into something.

Tonight the high tide will be higher than normal.  If the wind remains favorable that should help.  Thursday we're supposed to get up to a six foot surf and again Sunday.   That could do some good.

Odyssey Marine Explorations had a profitable year.  They will be salvaging the SS Central America which hasn't been worked in a decade due to court proceedings.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from an Odyssey press release.

The SS Central America was a wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted sidewheel steamship launched in 1852 as the SS George Law. The ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco. Owned and operated by the United States Mail Steamship Company, the SS Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857.

When it was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.

Here is the link for more about Odyssey and their projects.

Did you notice that the SS Central America was copper-sheathed.  That practice started in the mid 18th Century.  So if you are finding copper hull sheathing it is from a wreck of that time or later and not earlier vessels such as those of the 1715 Fleet.   Of course, earlier wrecks do have copper items other than sheathing but copper sheathing would be later.

It can help a lot to know the approximate dates of things like that.

There is one beach on South Hutchinson Island that produces a lot of copper sheathing yet today.  I suspect a later shipwreck is there, in fact I think there is a mixture of wrecks there, but some of the copper bits could also come from things other than shipwrecks.  There is a lot of varied history there.

Here is a link to a site that gives some information on copper sheathing.

Later tin was mixed with the copper resulting in "Muntz metal."

Copper or copper alloy sheathing was no longer used on larger vessels after steel hulls became common, but it was still used later on smaller vessels.

Leo L. had this to say about Dan B.s key from yesterday's post.

Well the keys are likely from Allegheny County in Pennsylvania maybe likely keys from the jail?? or government building.

If the wind doesn't switch, and I think it will, we might get a beach conditions upgrade before long.

The trouble we've been having this year is the fronts have been moving through quickly and when the wind is right, it changes too soon and the cuts fill back in.

Happy hunting,