Tuesday, August 31, 2010

9/1 Report - Beach Not Ready Yet & Cabin Wreck Cobs

Photo from Turtle Trail Looking South This Morning.

There was no improvement last night. The beaches are not really showing much improvement over a week ago. If you look back at recent photos of these sites, you'll see very little change.

After what I saw today I even decided that I jumped the gun yesterday when I raised my beach conditions rating to a 2. Today I decided to drop the rating back to a 1 again.

Photo from Seagrape Trail Looking North This Morning.

The scallops that you see in this photo were here a week ago. They are maybe a little deeper now, but not much. The sand there is very dense sand that was brought in.

The dredged sand at various places is still protecting the back dunes. That sand keeps the coins from the dunes and beaches from being washed out and keep the deeper things from the front beach from being churned up.

Photo From Amber Sands Access Looking South.

This one hasn't improved at all since the last time I was there.

I discussed the silver cobs found at the Douglas Beach wreck a few days ago. Today I decided to take a look at cobs found at one of the other major wrecks - the Cabin Wreck.

I'll use the same source of data - the salvage records 2000, 2001, and 2002 published in the IMAC Digest.

In 2000 40 half reales were reported, 8 one reales, 12 two reales, and 9 four reales, and 32 eight reales.

In 2001, 64 half reales, 3 once reales, 3 two reales, 17 four reales, and 4 eight reales.

In 2002, 9 half reales, 2 one reales, 4 two reales, 17 four reales, and 4 eight reales.

Total for the three years - 113 half reales, 13 one reales, 17 two reales, 32 four reales,and 37 eight reales.

(Note: my counting and arithmetic was done quickly and might contain an error or two but seems to be generally correct. Let me know if you find any errors.)

There were very few one and two reales found these year on the cabin wreck.

In many ways the numbers are very similar to the numbers of the Douglas Beach Wreck, which also showed a lot more half reales than any other denomination. That further supports my notion about the 1715 Fleet galleons NOT carrying predominately high denomination cobs.

The similar numbers on these two separate wrecks is also worth noticing.

I also counted the number of cobs from various reigns found on the Cabin Wreck for those years and found that there were about 80% Philip V cobs and 20% Charles II cobs.

From the salvage records, it appears that these two wrecks were loaded in a very simiar fashion.

Very few of the cobs found at the Cabin wreck during these three years showed either an assayers mark or year.

I wonder if they could have made the link any longer?

Forecast and Conditions.

I'm not expecting much now - not even Thursday when the seas are predicted to be up to 7.5 feet. The wind is hitting the beach directly instead of from a north angle.

I wouldn't be surprised if the seas are less than projected tomorrow. But what we really need is for Earl to move north and push some waves in from the north/northeast.

Earl will probably just brush by North Carolina. They'll probably get more erosion than us.

Fiona will probably go up into the Atlantic and not affect us.

Happy hunting,

Monday, August 30, 2010

8/31 Report - Slightly Improved Detecting Conditions on the Treasure Coast

Salvage Ship at Port.

I always say there is always some place to detect. The ocean turned rough and the beach improved. The salvage crews came in and guys started hitting the beach.

There were a good many guys on the beach this morning after low tide.

Silver and gold has been doing well. Silver recently went over $19/oz and then fell back a little. I mentioned silver back a few months ago as a good bet when it was still around $17.

Here is a web site that gives some good information about investing in shipwreck coins and hoards. It talks about coins from various hoards.


Forecast and Conditions.

Treasure Coast Beach This Morning.

There was some improvement. Some of the sand was moved from the front beach. The photo doesn't show that very well. The slope was gradual instead of sharply cut and I took the photo from the top. There were spots were there were small cuts.

Overall, I'll raise my Treasure Coast Treasure Beach Detecting Rating one notch to a 2.

I'm expecting a good chance of further improvement around Thursday when Earl gets a little more to the north and the winds come from more of a northerly direction.

It looked that the cutting that was present occurred yesterday instead of last night.

Notice the sea weed. That generally tells you that the last high tide was dropping sand, not taking it away.

I think the best might still be ahead of us.

Earl is now predicted to stay well off of the Florida Coast, but seems to be heading close to North Carolina where it might help out the guys that work the Outer Banks.

If you travel to detect, you might consider heading on up there in a few days.

Here is a web site that tells you where you can detect there.


It's always fun to detect some new areas.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

8/29 Report - Seas Increase & 1715 Fleet Cobs

Sunday Morning on a Treasure Coast Beach.

I was looking through Alan Craig's book about the silver coins of the Florida collection and noticed that the Mexican minted cobs in the collection were overwhelmingly 4 and 8 reales. That made me very curious because a large proportion of the cobs that I have seen that came from 1715 Fleet beaches were small denomination cobs. As a result I looked into the salvage records that I could find, and what I saw did not coincide with what was represented in the Florida collection. My personal observations of beach finds corresponded more closely to the salvage records.

Craig's book was published in 2000. The salvage records that I found were for the years 2000, 2001, and 2002. Unfortunately I do not presently have access to more complete data.

In his book Craig states, "The small number of fractional coins (traditionally viewed as 1/2 real to 2 reals) shown in table 7.1 are in keeping with the necessity of retaining as much small change as possible to facilitate daily business transactions while the two large denominations were being sent back to Spain to finance Spanish wars in Europe. This contrast between small and large denominations recovered from salvaged shipwrecks of the 1715 Plate Fleet is easily seen beginning with the year 1710." (Tabe 7.1 lists the Mexican silver coins in the Florida collection.)

The salvage records for the years 2000, 2001 and 2001, do not support the above statements of Craig. The salvage records for those years show a larger proportion of small denomination rather than large denomination cobs.

It seems that the sample of cobs presented and accepted into the Florida collection before the year 2000 was not representative - at least not if the salvage records for 2000, 2001 and 2002 provide a representative sample. For some reason there was a larger number of large denomination coins accepted into the Florida collection prior to the year 2000 than was represented in the salvage records for the three years reviewed.

Why would there be a large proportion of small denomination cobs recovered in the years 2000 - 2002 when the Florida collection before that contained such a high proportion of large denomination cobs? Could it be that search and recovery techniques improved enough so that more smaller denomination cobs were discovered in those later years? I think that is possible, but probably not the only factor.

I always felt that for beach finds, many more of the smaller denomination cobs were missed by most detectorists in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the beach hunters were using some level of discrimination back then and it seems that detectors have improved since then.

It could be that the salvors were simply hitting spots where there were more large denomination coins prior to 2000. It is possible, but I don't think that is the major factor.

It could also be that they simply picked lots of coins to present to the state that were disproportionly large denomination coins. That is also possible.

Craig mentions that in the early years coins were not selected for the collection systematically. That could be one reason for the disproportionate number of large denomination cobs in the collection.

In any case, from the limited information that is currently available to me, I would have to say that the idea that the large denomination cobs were being shipped back to Spain while smaller denomination cobs were kept for daily business is at best, questionable. As I've shown from the salvage records of 2000, 2001 and 2002, the vast majority of the finds were smaller denomination cobs even if that is not what is represented in the Florida collection.

If I had access to the data from later years, I might have to change my conclusion, but I can only use the data I have access to. That is one reason that the Florida Collection Database should be open for public access.

Forecast and Conditions

Danielle is headed into the North Atantic, and tropical storm Earl is headed on a similar path, but closer to the continental US.

Seas along the Treasure Coast will be around five feet today. I don't think we'll see the best erosion until Wednesday or Thrusday when the wind changes direction and hits the beaches from a more northerly direction.

Today will be a bit early for the best chance at cobs. It will probably take at least a few days before the summer sand gets moved.

You can see in today's photo that nothing has happened yet. The water didn't get high enough to hit the back dunes, and it didn't have enough of an angle to cut the front beach.

Therefore, my conditions rating is still a 1 (poor).

If things are going to improve much, I would expect it to not happen until around Thursday.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

8/28 Report - Storms, Ships & Fake Cobs

Active Atlantic.

There is a nice web page on the Mexconnect web site entitled Ships, Galleons, Frigates and Corvettes. It presents a number of illustrations of colonial era ships, construction techniques and related items. I think you will find it interesting.

Here is the link.


Someone sent me a photo of what appeared to be a 1731 Lima eight-reale and asked what the value would be. First, I am not qualified to provide appraisals. Second, even if I was, it is very difficult to evaluate cobs from photos alone, especially if they are not exceptionally clear, and it is not easy to take high quality photos of small objects with most cameras.

As you probably know, there are many counterfeit cobs out there. Some are found on the beach, and some are manufactured to be sold on places like ebay.

It can be difficult enough to detect counterfeit coins, but especially so by photo.

Souvenirs and replicas should be marked "COPY," but it is not always easy to see that mark even when it is present. The mark can be small or unclear. I've seen coins that were marked but didn't see the mark until I used some form of magnification.

I've also seen one that was marked "COPY" in a jewelers case with other genuine coins. The mark could have easily been overlooked by an unsuspecting buyer.

Some replicas are not marked, either intentionally meant to deceive or the mark has worn off or been removed.

Perhaps the easiest way to identify a fake is by composition. genuine reales are silver and escudos gold. If you have an acid test kit or another type of test kit, you will quickly discover if the coin is not made of the correct metal.

Fake escudos are often plated. Usually the plating doesn't look like gold if you have an experienced eye.

I once found a fake escudo, which at one time was plated, but the plating had worn off and the underlying metal looked silverish. Since the fake was also covered with a crust, I painstakingly removed the crust before I could tell what the coin actually looked like. When I got it partly cleaned it looked like it might be silver, but the design was that of an escudo rather than a reale. That confused me for a little while until I got the coin cleaned enough to test it and found that it was not even silver.

If I found the same fake today, I know I would be able to identify it as fake much more quickly than I did back then.

You can often tell real or fake coins by weight, surface texture, or how they sound when you tap or drop them.

Most fake escudos look too brassy and reflective to be real gold. And most fake reales do not sound right if you drop them on a something hard like a porcelain tile.

Silver has more of a tinkle to it when dropped. You can test this for yourself. Get an silver dime and a clad dime. Drop each on a porcelain tile. I think you'll be able to hear the difference.

Anyhow, there are a lot of fakes out there, so beware.

Forecast and Conditions.

Conditions should start improving soon.

See the above charted which was snipped from http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/gtwo_atl.shtml

The wind has switched and is now coming from the northeast. Today the seas will start building up to about four feet, and tomorrow up to about five feet where it is projected to pretty much level off until about Thursday when a peak is projected at about seven feet.

I'll five a conditions rating upgrade when I see that conditions have actually improved.

To remind you, I use a five point scale, where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent. That scale is based upon the likelihood of finding cobs on the beach.

Danielle is already north of us. Earl is still a tropical storm and will probably stay out in the Atlantic too.

It's too soon to talk about the others.

Happy hunting,

Friday, August 27, 2010

8/27 Report - Danielle & Earl Storms and Philip V Cobs

Philip V Cob From John Brooks Park.

As I mentioned about a week ago after reviewing the IMAC Digest records, the vast majority of cobs found on 1715 Fleet wrecks are either from the reign of Carlos II or Philip V.

Also, as I mentioned, the majority of cobs found by salvors at the Nieves site (if the samples from the years 2000 through 2002 are truly representative) are half reales. My own personal observations from the beach at that site supports that conclusion.

It is hard to tell if the larger number of smaller cobs found on that beach is due to the fact that there was simply a smaller proportion on the ship or weather the larger denominations have not been washing up onto the beach in representative proportions. Another theory might be that the larger denomination cobs were found more successfully in earlier days when detectors were not as effective.

I suspect a mixture of at least two of those.

The salvage records show that the salvage crews at the Nieves site found 22 silver reales in 2000. Of those of identifiable denominations, 14 were half reales and 6 were one reales. No higher denominations were found that year.

Since there generally seems to be relatively few eight-reales found at that site compared to smaller denomination cobs, it would not be surprising if no eight reales are found when the total number found is that small.

In 2001, the same site produced 117 half reales, 50 one reales, 9 two reales, 21 four reales, and 8 eight reales.

In 2002, the site produced 15 half reales, 21 one reales, 4 two reales, 25 four reales, and 4 eight reales.

My numbers might be off one or two here or there, but they are close enough for preset purposes unless you notice some other mistake that I made in doing my quick calculations.

You might also remember from my previous post, that of the half reales, about 80% were from the reign of Philip and 20% from Carlos II. I showed at Carlos II Mexican minted cob when I reported on that before. The half reale shown in the photo today is a Philip V half reale, and therefore is the most common type of cob found on the Nieves site.

Philip half reales are easy to identify when you can see enough to see either the P or S.

The cross on the other side of a half reale like this is often the easiest thing to identify. The Mexican mint can easily be identified by the style of cross even if you can't see much other information on the cob.

The half-reale shown in the photo was found, I think, in 2010, or if I am wrong, late 2009.

Notice the hole. I am not sure if that was created intentionally or accidentally.

On another subject: A man digging in his garden turned up a very old mystery object.
Here is the link for that story.


Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is from the southeast and the seas are calm. That is supposed to change tomorrow when the seas start building and are projected to reach a peak of abut 7.5 feet next weekend. So if the surf web sites are right, we'll see rough seas all next week. That will be a change.

Danielle is now at 26.5N and headed towards Bermuda.

A storm doesn't have to come ashore to erode the beaches. I don't want any direct hits - too much damage. In fact it doesn't even take a hurricane. The best situation is for a storm to just sit off the shore creating waves that hit us from the northeast for a while.

Earl is still a tropical storm, and I'm hoping, will follow the path of Danielle. That could create another weak of high seas.

I've mentioned before that when Andrew came ashore it created very little to no erosion to primary Miami/Fort Lauderdale beaches even though the surge was very high.
The surge hit the beaches at a near 90 degree angle.

As I've been saying, the waves have to hit the beach at a good angle to create the best erosion, and you'll see the best cuts where the angle is right.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

8/26 Report - One Hurricane Plus Now

Of course the big news for now is the two storms in the Atlantic.

Danielle is a category 2, and is around 23.4N, 54.9W. It is still pretty far away and predicted to go far to the east of us.

Earl is a tropical storm and is behind Danielle. It is too early to say much about Earl.

The surf web sites are predicting increasing seas, building to 6.5 feet about Monday. It ususally takes 6 to 8 foot seas to cause a good change in conditions. We might get that in a few days.

Somebody asked about detecting in the water at Pepper Park. The remains of the Urca de Lima is towards the north end of that park and not too far out. There are signs at the park pointing out the location. Cannons were removed from the wreck by locals as early as the 1920s.

This wreck is protected by a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve. This was the first of Florida's Underwater Archaeological Preserves. As a result you can not detect in the preserve.

Here is a web site that tells about the Florida Preserves.


And here is a web site abut the Urca de Lima with some nice photos.


The main pile is to the north of the park and about 1000 yards out. You'll find directions in the links.

You can dive in the Preserve but not detect.

I'm not sure of the exact boundaries of the Preserve. I've seen them but can't find them right now. If I run acroos that information again, I'll post it.

Here is some good practical advice though.

When at a swimming area where there are life guards, ask the life guard if you have any questions about if you are allowed to detect. It is that simple. They will usually know the rules, and if they don't, at least you asked.

I might get time to add some to this post a little later, but that is all the time I have right now.

I do have some information on cobs that I'd like to post later today.

So, right now we are just watching for the seas to increase as the storms get a little closer.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8/24 Report - Copper Ingot & Conditions Alert

Photo of Copper Ingot Found by Crew of the Dare.

Photo received from Mel Fisher Treasures via email. Snipped to fit space.

The salvage vessel Dare recently found a very significant artifact – a 60-pound copper ingot. "The crew is digging north of the main pile, blowing with their “mailboxes” for sometimes as much as two hours to get down through 4 feet of hard-packed clay like mud, in 55 feet of water. In some areas, they have blown through the mud, all the way down to bedrock."

Being similar in weight and density as the silver ingots and stored in the same area in the galleon as other heavy precious metal bullion, this is a particularly good sign that other valuable targets might be found nearby.

"One of the larger cargos put on board the Atocha in 1622 for the return voyage to Spain was a 30,000-pound load of copper ingots. 582 copper ingots were loaded on board the Atocha at Havana, Cuba, the Atocha’s final stop before sailing to Spain. The copper originated from the Cuban mine at Caridad del Cobre, owned by the Spanish crown. Only three ships carried this royal cargo of copper in the 1622 fleet - the Atocha, Santa Margarita and Rosario."

Kovels Komments reports a new record price for a United States coin. They said a
"1794 American silver dollar sold last week for $1.2 million at a Bowers and Merena Auction in Boston. The coin, known as the "Flowing Hair Silver Dollar," was one of the first silver dollars minted by the United States. The woman on the dollar represents Lady Liberty. Only about 140 of the coins are known and this example was one of the best."

Forecast and Conditions.

The most significant news here is Danielle out in the Atlantic. It is a level one hurricane but has plenty of time to develop. Right now they think it will turn north and miss Florida by a good distance.

But behind Danielle is another storm coming off of Africa that might be more of a threat. Of course it is still too early to tell much about what it is going to do.

If you check the surf web sites they are projecting some big seas for Sunday and Monday. If they are right, that will be the biggest seas we've seen for months. It looks like beach detecting conditions could finally get good.

Get your equipment in good order.

Happy hunting,

Monday, August 23, 2010

8/23 Report - Salvage Vessel Working Sebastian Area

Salvage Crew Working South of McClarty Museum.

The smaller boat in the foreground of the photo has been blowing holes about 100 yards out from the beach.

Word is that the crew of theDare found an exceptionally nice 8 reale and a 4 Being protected from corrosion by being buried in mud, these coins were both in very good condition.

I've often been fascinated how different environments have a different effect on coins. The cold lake waters of the north produce some nice looking coins. Some just get a nice gun blue patina.

Other places I've seen really eats coins. I've seen mud that must be very acidic because old copper pennies wear paper thin from just sitting in it. I've seen that around mangroves where the leaves and stuff decomposes. I think that produces an acid soil.

In the ocean, mud is often very protective.

Some of my best hunting has been in clay bottoms, which are also sometimes exposed along beach fronts when you get good erosion.

Photo From Seagrape Trail Friday.

There were some deep scallops in the dense dredged sand. You can see that in the photo. Those types of dips are worth checking out sometimes.

If you are interested in the wrecks around Wabasso, you might want to take a look at the book by Laura Strolia, The Marigalera of the 1715 Fleet. It is available through Amazon.com.

Forecast and Conditions.

Last month I thought it was so redundant and boring that I gave up reporting my numeric beach conditions rating. I've been stuck on 1 (poor) for so long, that it just didn't seem worthwhile. Well, this month it got even worse. The seas have been so calm that the beach hasn't been changing at all. There really isn't anything new to report. Someday that will change - hopefully sooner rather than later.

Very often treasure hunting is a waiting game.

No matter how bad the conditions you can always go out and learn something. Or stay in and do some research that might pay off down the line.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

8/22 Report - Joseph S Fay Steamship Wreck & More

Photos of the Steamship Joseph S. Fay.

The Joseph S. Fay, built in 1871, was a wooden steamer that sunk in 1905. Notice all of the spikes. You can get a pretty good view of some of them.

Although this isn't a treasure galleon and it has nothing to do with the Treasure Coast, I've seen spikes found by Treasure Coast hunters that look similar. One detectorist had a few of those long ones as well as an assortment of other sizes. We do have other ages of wrecks and other types of ships wrecked along the Treasure Coast.

Here is the link to the story and photo of the Joseph F Fay.


Every bit of knowledge you acquire about shipwreck artifacts can be helpful.

Several British revolutionary war ships have been found in the York River. Recently a new one was found when a survey was conducted after the currents changed the bottom and uncovered a new wreck.

Here is the link to that story.


I think you'll find a few interesting clues in that article.

With the theft of the gold bar at the Mel Fisher Museum, the Gold Hounds finds and now the Gold Hawk's finds, there has been a lot of big news on the Florida treasure scene.

There is more coming too. I'll be showing you a copper ingot in a day or so that was recently recovered.

Forecast and Conditions.

Photo From Turtle Trail Friday.

The best thing I saw Friday was a few scallops. But from the looks, I would guess that they wouldn't produce anything.

One reader reported scallops at Turtle Trail, Seagrape and Bon Steel but had not luck.

As you know the sea has been nice and calm. That means there is not much chance of any changes on the beach.

There is that one developing disturbance over by Africa to watch. It seems to be developing, but that is about it right now.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

8/21 Report - Half Million Dollar Atocha Treasure Bar Stolen

Photo of Beach at Sebastian South of McClarty Museum Taken Yesterday.

This photo was taken Friday morning. You can see where there was a good cut some time ago. The front of the beach filled in since then. I did notice a fossilized piece of turtle shell laying on the beach there. A salvage vessel was working just north of this area.

One big treasure news item is about the Atocha gold bar that was stolen from the Mel fisher Treeasure Museum in Key West. If you've been there you might remember the bar that was in a plexiglass case with a hole in it so you could put your hand in and feel the weight of the bar. I suspect that a lot of you have actually touched that bar.

Here is the link to the story.


Notice the picture of the bar at the top left of the article and also the surveillance photos of the suspects.

I wonder if those guys already had a buyer? It would be worth a good bit but not be nearly as much if it was melted down. I think they'll end up in jail unless it was a really sophisticated high-level job.

Maybe this is a good time to remind you to store any valuable finds safely in a bank safe deposit box.

Archaeologists find 10,000 year old treasures in Little Salt Spring, Florida.

Here is the link to that story.


And one more link for today. A bunch of little kids found some artifacts while eye-balling a beach at low tide.

This is a neat story. Kids are good at treasure hunting when their attention is properly focused.


As I've said before, you can teach a lot through treasure hunting. And it is a good way to get children interested in a variety of subjects like history, geography, numismatics, etc. etc.

This story also reminds me of some of the times that really nice kids got excited when they watched me dig up different things. That can be fun.

Of course there are also the brats that make a nuisance of themselves.

I don't know if anyone found the data that I presented on cobs the past two days useful. If so, let me know and I'll do more of that type of thing.

Forecast and Conditions.

The water is very calm and the prediction is that nothing will change for a few days.
I didn't see one detectorist on the beach Friday morning. That is unusual, but I can understand it considering all the sand I saw.

275 miles south/southwest of the Cape Verdi Islands there is a tropical disturbance that is becoming a little better organized. It has a 40% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.

It is still too soon to know what it might do.

Happy hunting,

Friday, August 20, 2010

8/20 Report - Gold Eagle Find & John Brooks Park

Painting by Anthony D.

The big news circulating on the Treasure Coast now is the fantastic gold eagle recently found south of Fort Pierce near John Brooks Park (Green Turtle Beach, also previously called Colored Beach)by the crew of the Gold Hawg. Take a look at the photos of this interesting find.


Yesterday I was talking about the coins of the Nieves site. My conclusion is that it looks like the prevalence of small denomination cobs found on the beach is similar to the larger numbers of small denomination cobs foud in the ocean. That relationship might not hold for four and eight reales. I'm not aware of any of those being found on that beach in recent years even though they were reported in significant numbers in the data of my salvage sample.

I suspect that there might be an even a greater prevalence of small denomination cobs in the sample than what was reported, because a lot of those reported as fragments, and therefore of indeterminate denomination, are probably small half reales. Also, I think you could reasonably expect that if any cobs are missed, they would more often be the small half reales.

To give you some idea of what you can expect to find around John Brooks Park when conditions are right,and also to help you identify the cobs you find there, I'll give you some additional information that I found by inspecting the IMAC Digest salvage data for the years 2000, 2001, and 2002.

In the three years of reports there are only three reigns represented in the cobs found at that site. About 80% of the cobs found were of the reign of Philip V. About 20% were Charles II. There was also one Philip IV cob reported. (Percentages are based upon the sample of three years of data, but I think they are reasonably accurate and useful for drawing general conclusions.)

The cob I showed yesterday came from John Brooks beach and is a Charles II (Carlos II) Mexican half-reale. Charles II half reales were minted in Mexico from 1668 through 1697. The two assayers for those years are G (1668-1677) and L (1678-1697).

You can almost always tell a Mexican minted cob from the style of cross.

If you look at the photo, I think you can see the G (towards the bottom left of the coin in the photo), which actually looks more like a C. If that is right, you can conclude the coin was minted sometime between 1668 and 1677.

The Philip V Mexican half reales, are more common than Charles II half reales (about 80/20) on this wreck site and other 1715 Fleet sites.

According to my references, the Mexican mint produced half-reales under Philip V during the years 1702 through 1747. Assayer marks for those cobs include, L and J.

Of course 1715 Fleet cobs would not have been minted after 1715.

More often than not, assayer marks were reported as not visible - rougly 14% of the cobs found at this site had a visible assayer mark. Even fewer had any portion of a visible date.

There were a few (very few) Potosi and Lima cobs found on this site. At quick glance I only noticed two Potosi coins and one Lima.

In summary, according to the data, if you find a cob at John Brooks Park, the highest probability would be a Mexican minted, Philip V, J or L assayer, half-reale. Most likely, it will not show an assayer mark or date. To be able to see either of those would be an unexpected positive.

All of that conforms pretty closely to what I have actually seen of finds from that beach.

MOst of the cobs that I've personally seen that come from that beach have been half, one and two reales.

My primary references for the above are the IMAC Digest and Monedas Espanolas Desde Juana y Carlos a Isabel II 1504 a 1868 by Calico, Calico and Trigo.

I hope you find this information useful.

News on the stolen gold Atocha treasure bar in tomorrow's post.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is from the west and the seas are calm. No change is predicted for the coming week. It is nice weather for the dive boats but not so good for the beach hunters.

There is a disturbance in the Atlantic, but is still over by Africa and too early to know what it is going to do.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

8/19 Report - Beach Cob Disribution and Denominations

1715 Fleet Cob Found on Treasure Coast in 2010.

I've shown this one before, but it goes along nicely with my discussion today.

Can you tell what reign it is from? That shouldn't be too difficult.

Some beaches are known for the small cobs they produce. The Chuck's Steakhouse site, for example, is known for it's small worn half reales.

One beach that produces a large number of smaller cobs is the Nieves site. Although my favorite silver coins are the monogrammed half reales, when the only coins you find at a particular site is the smaller denomination cobs, you might want to find something different, like an 8 reale for a change.

You might also wonder why you find a vast majority of denomination of cob at a particular beach. Could it be that the heavier coins are not washing up for some reason? Maybe they are just too heavy, or trapped by a reef or something. Or maybe that particular wreck was carrying a predominance of one type of cob.

Since most everything I've learned about treasure hunting has come from personal experience and observation, even though I do read a bit, I took my usual experimental approach to try to gain some insight into what is going on.

I'd particularly like to know if there is a difference between what is being in the ocean as compared to what is being found on the beach, because that might tell me something about how cobs move over time.

I could just have easily tried to find a copy of the ship's manifest, but I like to see what I can find out myself, and while the manifest would tell you what was registered on a ship, there are other things to consider. The manifest will tell you what was registered, but it wouldn't tell you what wasn't registered, and it wouldn't tell you anything about how the beach or ocean conditions affect the distribution of coins on the beach.

Since I was wondering if the heavier coins just weren't washing up, I took a look at some readily available data. The IMAC Digest gives the salvage reports for 2000, 2001, and 2003.

Right now I'll limit my discussion to the Nieves site, which I've observed seems to produce a large proportion of fractional denominations. Fractional denominations include half reales and 1 and 2 reales. (As you probably know, conditions have not been good and most Treasure Coast beaches have not produced many cobs at all for quite a while.)

Here is what I found from examining the data.

In 2000, 22 silver reales were found by the salvage efforts. Of those of identifiable denominations, 14 were half reales and 6 were one reales. No higher denominations were found that year.

In 2001, the same site produced 117 half reales, 50 one reales, 9 two reales, 21 four reales, and 8 eight reales.

In 2002, the site produced 15 half reales, 21 one reales, 4 two reales, 25 four reales, and 4 eight reales.

Totals: 154 half reales, 77 one reales, 11 two reales, 46 four reales, 12 eight reales.

My numbers might be off one or two here or there, but they are close enough for present purposes unless you notice some other mistake that I made in doing my quick calculations.

I think it is safe to conclude that no matter what was on the ship, the vast majority of cobs being found on the site are half reales followed by one reales. There are definitely more small denomination cobs found in the ocean at this site if the sample is not flawed somehow. Therefore it should not be surprising if that is what you find on the beach. It looks like my personal observations are very much in line with the salvage data.

I am a bit surprised by the small number of two reales and relatively large number of four reales, otherwise the data strongly supports my expectations.

Although my little experiment is based upon a very limited sample sized and only three year of data, the data supports the idea that if you are finding a large number of small denomination cobs on the beach, that is similar to the numbers of various denominations found in the ocean. Possible exceptions have been mentioned.

The larger number of four reales and smaller number of two reales might just be sampling error or something to look into further.

Part of what made motivated me look into this is the contents of the Florida Collection, which seems to contain a disproportionately small number of half reales and a disproportionately large number of eight reales.

Alan Craig mentioned that the smaller denominations were used for daily transactions, which made me wonder if the small denomination cobs might have been on the beach more often because they were being used, as opposed to the larger denominations which might have been more safely stored away. I didn't find any support for that idea.

I'll have more informal studies for you in the future. I think that is about enough for today.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is out of the south and the seas are calm and expected to remain calm for the next week. So what you will be seeing is more of the same for a while.

There is nothing in the Atlantic to be concerned about.

It might be a good time to test out some equipment or try some new things or do soe research. Get ready for when things finally do change.

There is always something to be found and something to be learned.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

8/18 Report - Wrecker Story, Coordinates, and That Ingot Again

Front and Side View of Found Silver Object.

This silver object was found on a Treasure Coast beach. I've shown it before but have not been able to identify it yet and was hoping someone might come up with some information.

It appears that a wreath is stamped on the front under the more heavily stamped 1. It is about the size of a button, but there is no sign of a shank or place for a shank. It is a high grade of silver (acid tested). It weighs 10 grams.

One possibility is that it is a weight for a scale since in measures out at 10 grams. Someone told me they thought it might be a assay sample, with the wreath indicating the owner and the 1 indicating the sample number. Or it might just be a small ingot. I think these are all possibilities. I sure would like to hear if anyone has seen one like this before or has some thoughts on what it is.

I got one email about this piece lately, but it is still a mystery to me.

Here is a fun story filled with history. It is the story of Bradish (Hog) Johnson, wrecker out of Key West in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I'm sure many of you will enjoy reading this story. It appeared in the Tequesta in 1941.

Here is the link.


A lot of people wonder where you can water hunt along the Treasure Coast. It is not an easy matter to determine exactly where the bondaries of the wreck leases are even if you generally know where the wrecks are.

A number of web sites, including one listed in my treasure link list, list the center points of the leased wreck areas.

Here are the coordinates as they appear in various web sites and books.

Cabin Wreck North 27.49.8 West 80.25.55
Anchor Wreck North 27.48.2 West 80.24.70
Corrigans North 27.46.2 West 80.22.67
Rio Mar North 27.38.3 West 80.20.90
Sandy Point North 27.35.8 West 80.19.65
Nieves North 27.25.3 West 80.16.50
Power Plant North 27.21.2 West 80.13.65

One place you can find this information is the old IMAC Digest.

The leased areas include the area defined by a radius of 3000 yeards out from the center point. That means an area of around 3.2 miles across (diameter).

That won't do you a lot of good unless you have an idea of where the center points are. I've mentioned some of the benefits of having a portable GPS system before, and this is one way it could help you.

Look at this data as a starting point. I can't gaurantee its accuracy and don't know how current it is.

Between Sandy Point and the Nieves site there is also the Urca site, which is off-limmits.

That doesn't leave much. There are a few little gaps.

Forecast and Conditions.

The seas is smooth with the wind from the southwest. Picking through the beach front migth still be the way to go even if the pickings should be getting slim by no.

There is one disturbance down below Cuba, but I would guess that it would not affect us.

Happy hunting,

8/17 Report - Shipwreck Artifacts

Holed Metal Plate on the Ocean Floor at the Site of the HMS Victory.

This photo was clipped from the Odyssey Report on the HMS Victory that I mentioned yesterday.

At the top of the photo is an iron ballast pig. The holed plate is thought to have possibly been used to hold the iron pigs in place.

Here is the link once again since I am using part of the picture from the report.


And below is a holed metal object found by Fred B. along with the metal spike that I posted yesterday.

Metal Artifact Found on Treasure Coast.

Fred was told that this item "is a metal band from a deck hatch cover."

I'm a bit curious about the appearance of the holes in this plate. They seem to be very nicely tapered. While some are now a bit ragged, a close-up of the plate shows a very neat, probably machined-tapered hole.

I don't know if that might tell us anything about the items age. I haven't seen enough items with similar holes to know. Maybe someone reading this might know if there is a time period associated with that, and if so when that type of hole was first used.

Here are a couple screen savers that you might like.


[Attention: A reader just informed me that these are free for trial, but there is a fee for permanent use.]

Here is a nice cleaned and preserved brass shipwreck spike on sale on eBay. The asking price is a little over a $100.

The attached wood is nice. I think it came from down in the keys. They seller said is was not Spanish but from another identified ship of later age.

The cannon ball that I showed not long ago had a bid of $100 the last time I noticed.

One thing that frutrates me is how hard it can be to identify an artifact when it has no distinctive markings, no contextual clues and is obscured by encrustation or corrosion. That is just the way it is.

But no matter how hard it is to identify a dug item, I recommend keeping unidenfified items until you are pretty sure you know what they are. Once you throw something away, you'll probably never get it back. And you might regret it.

If you hold onto something for a while, you might eventually notice different things and you'll run across different things that will help you understand what the item is or where it came from.

I've held onto items for years before running across a clue that finally helped me figure it out.

And don't clean items until you are absolutely sure you know how to do it non-destructively.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is still from the south and seas are running about three feet. The prediction is for the seas to decrease the next few days. Of course that won't do much of anything for us.

And there is no weather to watch in the Atlantic right now.

You have to go out and use your head these days.

Happy hunting,

Monday, August 16, 2010

8/16 Report - Miscellaneous Treasure Coast Finds & HMS Victory

Photo of Treasure Coast Beach This Morning.

The seas were up a bit, and a number of surfers were out. The beach was still sandy, and in some places there were piles of shells.

There was also a lot of iron scattered on the beach fronts. Mostly small items, but also some pretty large items.

I've been receiving a lot of photos of those pieces of metal that are believed to be from the space shuttle.

I spent a couple hours at the beach this morning. I hadn't been out much lately. I expected it to be pretty clean since I thought a lot of people would be out on Saturday and Sunday, but there were a lot of targets out there.

I wanted to see what the beaches looked like and what the surf looked like.

Like I said, it is still pretty sandy out there. Many places you can find a dip in the water in front of the beach.

Watch how the surf moves different kinds of items.

Fossilized Horse Tooth.

I was walking along scouting out the beach and saw this. It is a fossilized horse tooth being uncovered by the surf. It turned out to be a very nice example and is tens of thousands of years old.

Always keep your eyes open for both metallic and non-metallic items.

People have also been finding sea glass lately. Especially watch for pieces of the old black glass, olive jar shards or Kangxi China.

I also saw some badly corroded iron clumps that evidently were pretty old. Always watch for signs like that and try to figure out where they came from and how they got there.

There is plenty out there to keep a detectorist interested, even if the cobs aren't on the beach. Times like this you can use to get some clues about where to look when things improve.

Old Iron Spike Found on the Treasure Coast.

The spike was found a couple of weeks ago by Fred B. That is something you would have missed if you were ignoring iron.

There is a lot of iron on the beach fronts right now. Some of it old.

In addition to the Spanish galleons, there are also old British shipwrecks along the Treasure Coast. One of the more well known is the Spring of Whitby up at Wabasso.

I've been getting some questions about artifacts that may have come from British shipwrecks, and I've also been reading a good bit about some old British wrecks.

One thing I found, for example, is an excellent 46 page report by Odyssey Marine on the HMS Victory which sank in 1744. Of course it didn't sink on the Treasure Coast, but the report includes a lot of very good information, photos of various artifacts sitting on the ocean floor and other illustrations that I think you'll find very interesting and helpful.

Here is the link to that report.


Did you notice the rectangular iron ballast? Interesting.

I also hope you noticed a lot of the clues in that report.

One thing you might notice when reading the report is all of the detective work that goes into identifying the wreck. It is hard enough to identify a huge wreck, but it is sometimes even harder to identify a specific artifact found on a beach without all of the contextual clues.

Forecast and Conditions.
I've already pretty much described the beach conditions. Seas are up to around three feet, and will probably stay that way for another day. That won't create any significant cutting, but it will stir up the front beach a little.

Although a lot of miscellaneous things are being found, I'd still rate conditions for finding cobs as poor.

There is nothing in the Atlantic to watch right now.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

8/14 Report - Beach Finds & Artifacts of Indeterminate Age and Identity

Silver Treaure Coast Beach Find.

(Submitted by Jony C.)

This ring has a design similar to a 1715 Fleet ring that I've seen before. That is no guarantee that it is a shipwreck ring, although the ring could be one. Similar designs are also used on rings today.

Look closely and you can see a band of arrows going around the ring.

Although the ring has been in salt water and is obviously what you might call old, I've seen 20th Century silver in similarly corroded condition. There are two things that might clear up the question. One is any distinctive marks, and the other is association with other items of known origin.

The ring might be too corroded to find any marks on it, but if you found something like .925 or sterling on it, that would tell you that it is not an item from a 1715 Spanish galleon. Or, on the other hand, there could possibly be ancient Spanish markings or legends on the inside. Unfortunately the inside of the ring is very corroded too.

Many jewelry items and designs have been used for centuries and that can make it difficult t tell how old an item is. Another clue to age and identity would be where the item was found and what other items were found around it. If the ring was found in a ballast pile or with some dated coins, that might help you determine it's age, but that would not definitely give you the the age. Many times items from different sources are intermingled.

Modern items can be lost in the same area as centuries old items, making it difficult to tell the source or age from context alone. I am certain that there have been times when relatively important items have been incorrectly identified.

Laura Stolia's book, The Marigalera of the 1715 Fleet, which I mentioned yesterday, talks about intermingled finds from shipwrecks of different centuries in the Wabasso area.

There are new metallurgical tests that can help identify items. Testing can reveal things like the amount of silver and different alloys or other metals in a coin or artifact, allowing the item to be traced back to a particular area or mint. Of course most of us are not going to have access to that type of testing.

X-ray or other scanning can also show marks that can't otherwise visible.

I think the archaeological community is missing out on a great opportunity to take advantage of possible knowledge provided by items found outside of their professional projects. In contrast, I very much appreciated when Richard Hulbert of the Florida Natural History Museum identified fossils that were brought to a program on Vero Man by local amateurs. Although most fossils identified were common, as they are bound to be by definition, he did find one fossil that was brought in that deserved a place in the museum. It seems to me that much of the grunt work of interfacing with the pubic could be done by archaeology graduate students. In the process that would improve public relations for the profession, provide learning opportunities for the students and provide a service to the public who pays for most archaeology projects.

When I sat down to do this morning's blog, I didn't intend to get into this topic in such detail, but since I did, I'll add one more example.

Cornicello, or Italian Horn.

(Submitted by Jony C.)

The Italian Horn, worn for good luck, and in days past, protection from the evil eye, has been used for centuries with very little modification. Often made of silver or gold, this one appears to me to be made of copper and was probably at one time silver plated.

I had a series of posts in the past on the use of silver plating, which goes back thousands of years. You might want to do a keyword search of this blog and go back to read those posts.

We got into that topic when someone said that silver plating was a relatively recent process. That is true of modern electroplating processes, but silver plating was done in different ways thousands of years ago.

One additional thing I looked at in this photo is the loop at the top of the horn. It does not seem heavily worn. I can't really tell exactly how worn it is from the photo. Of course that is not a definitive test either.

Again, we have a find that is difficult to identify and date without more expert analysis and testing. It could be very old or much more recent.

As I've often said, beaches are dynamic systems. As a result, the context of the item is often lost. It is not like a dig on land where items most often remain buried in fixed relative positions for very long periods of time.

Forecast and Conditions. It looked like there was a nice low tide this morning. I didn't get out again.

The seas are very calm, and that coupled with the low tides should provide some opportunities. I'm sure that the cuts from this week are now getting stale.

It looks like the seas will increase up to about three feet on Monday. It usually takes a least six foot seas to do much good, but not always.

There is nothing in the Atlantic to watch right now.

It is good snorkel and diving weather.

Happy hunting,

Friday, August 13, 2010

8/13 Report - The Marigalera of the 1715 Fleet & More

Treasure Coast Beach Finds From This Week.

Ian A. found these a couple of days ago. Included is his first iron spike find.

First finds are always exciting and often lead to more of the same.

You might recall the coaked sheve that Ian found. I did a number of posts on that object as Ian conducted the research and reported on the good information he from nautical history experts in England.

If you are a new reader to this blog you might want to go back and look at some of those posts. Enter "coaked sheve" in the keyword search box for this blog.

Ken A. mentioned coming across some turtle eggs that were being washed out of the sand. He told one of the people that patrols the turtle nesting about the eggs and wondered why they didn't seem to care. I've been told by people on the turtle patrol that once salt water hits the eggs they are no good and there is nothing they can do about it, so they tend to ignore those exposed eggs.

There are a number of 1715 Fleet cobs now listed on eBay. Take a look even if you don't buy cobs.

As you know the Atocha and Margarita are far south of the Treasure Coast but they are so important that I often mention them in this blog for one reason or another. If you can't visualize where they are, here is a good general map, which shows both sites.


I just received a review copy of a newly released book entitled The Marigalera of the 1715 Fleet. It was written by Laura Strolia and edited by Robert Westrick (2010).

The Marigalera might be a name you haven't heard before as one of the ships of the 1715 Fleet. It was Ubilla's personal ship.

This book is small but is jam-packed with good detailed information that you won't want to miss.

In an email Laura said, "You have been an inspiration and a great help in my research. You will receive much praise in my next book because you actually helped to give me clues on a significant piece of history."

I wasn't aware of that until I received Laura's email. I can only say that I am proud to think that through this blog I made some very small contribution to this book.

Laura is a writer and historian who has spent over 30 years researching the 1715 Fleet, and Robert has a Master's degree in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology and works as a marine archaeologist.

Like I said, I'll comment more on this book in the future.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is from the west and the swell from the southeast. The seas are calm, which means there will not be much change in conditions, but you might be able to get out to work the low tide areas very easily.

There is a bit of an increase in seas projected in a few days.

There is nothing in the tropics of interest.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

8/12 Report - Beach Conditions & Vero Ex-Voto

Photo of Possible Ex-Voto Found in Vero Area in 2008.

(Find photo submitted by Jony C. Thanks!)

It's always nice to see unusual finds from the Treasure Coast wreck beaches.

I got an email report from Ken A. that said the beach below Sebastian Inlet had a large cut "that ran for what looked like several miles" but finds were rare. I wasn't up there to see that so I was glad to get the report, but I also thought some of you might be wondering how the beach could be so cut and still no cobs to be found. I'll say a few words on that today.

Not all cuts are equal. And not all erosion produces cobs. If it did, I would have increased my Treasure Coast Treasure Beach Conditions Rating yesterday or the day before.

First, without attempting to explain why right now, erosion caused by southeast winds are seldom productive as compared to erosion caused by waves washing onto the beach from a north or northeast direction.

Basically, there are two primary sources of beach cobs these days. One is the back dunes, and the other is the area in the water in front of the beach.

You might have noticed how often the salvors move their boats in as close to the beach as possible. Cobs and other shipwreck materials can often be found there.

Occasionally the back dunes erode. Of course that only happens when the sea is rough and the water gets all the way back there. Coins that were buried in the dunes will wash out onto the beach when that happens. That happens on relatively narrow beaches that have a cliff at the back of the beach, such as Corrigans, Wabasso, or Jupiter Inlet.

That happened at Corrigans back in October, I think it was 2008, maybe 2009. I forget which year it was, but think it was 2008.

Coins that wash out of the back dunes are often in fairly nice condition because they haven't been tumbled in salt water and sand for the last hundred years.

Some beach cobs wash up onto the beach from the ocean.

I must say that there was a time when I thought all beach cobs were uncovered by the erosion as opposed to washing up onto the beach. That was a long time ago. Now I know differently.

In the summer the beach accumulates a lot of loosely packed sand on the beach front when the east and southeast winds and waves push sand up on the beach. Also in the summer, the water in front of the beach accumulates a lot of sand and may create a bar in front of the beach which protects the beach from a lot of wave energy.

This summer sand is piled up by relatively gentle seas that moves lighter materials and leaves heavier and more deeply buried objects behind.

Finally I get to my main point. When recently accumulated summer sand erodes, the cuts do not generally contain cobs. For eroded summer sand to produce cobs, the erosion generally has to be enough to remove the layer of summer sand from the beach and water and move the cobs onto the beach. A hurricane or good storm can do that.

I won't elaborate on that any more today. There are other factors and exceptions. There is also a third source for beach cobs that I might try to describe some other day.

I do not claim to understand it all and might be incorrect on some of my theory. My theory has been developed exclusively from personal observation and much of it has been personally tested and verified to my satisfaction. I'll glady receive any other theories or interpretations and change my mind if I'm convinced of a better explanation.

And don't let me discourage you from checking out those cuts. Its always worth checking a cut. Even if you don't find a cob, you might find something interesting. As I've mentioned recently, there are other materials that will come in with the summer sand. Of course light things like pottery will move with the sand, and iron moves surprisingly well - I think partially because of it's surface properties.

You never know. I just try to figure out the probabilities and hit the areas where the probabilities are best because you can't cover the entire beach. And you can always learn something - even from failure.

Right now I like the low tide areas below cuts especially well.

Forecast and Conditions. I've already said a lot about current conditions. Despite recent erosion, I can't give any more than a 1 (poor) conditions rating. Remember, my rating is focused on cobs, not other types of artifacts.

It looks like the seas will remain relatively calm for the next few days, and therefore the conditions unchanged.

And it looks like all of the activity in the Atlantic has disappeared for now.

Remember, my rating system begins with 1 instead of 0, because there is always some chance.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8/11 Report - Jupiter Divers Find Cob Story

Photo of Iron Spike - Another Recent Treasure Coast Beach Find.

Here is a great story about an eye-balled cob found on the Jupiter wreck site by a couple of divers. You'll want to read this.

Good story - good moral.

Here is the link.


Thanks to Jim M. and Bill C. for sending me the link and Jim M. for a follow-up to the original article.

The story as printed seems to be a little misleading. Dom was not actually able to give the coin to the diver because the State of Florida has the option to claim their share and any specific coins or artifacts. It seems Dom allowed the diver to keep the coin temporarily and then gave him an other coin that had cleared adjudication as a reward for his honesty.

In case the article brings up any questions about what you are allowed to do in the water around leased wrecks - you are allowed to snorkel and scuba but not metal detect. Of course you need to stay safely away from any salvage efforts that are in progress no matter what you are doing.

Some scientists claim the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle has been solved.

Here is the link.


My hit counter is about to hit 90,000 very soon.

Forecast and Conditions. I saw one cut this morning of one to two feet in height that ran for at least two hundred yards. It was undoubtedly produced at high tide last night, but was still be lightly carves this morning. If more there were more spots like that I would upgrade my beach conditions rating from a 1 to a 2, but most places were not even that good. I saw one beach that had some light scalloping at the high tide mark but had tons of loose sand below the scallops. Overall, I was not impressed enough to change my rating of beach conditions, even though there were some spots worth at least taking a look at.

I did find some square nails and other older objects, but nothing to make me really expect to find any cobs.

Even though the seas are pretty calm, tonight should produce an unusually high tide. Too bad we don't really have any waves to go with that.

The weather that I've been commenting on out in the Atlantic hasn't really changed much. I still don't expect much out of that system.

There is a new tropical wave down by the windward islands that could possibly develop and move north. I'll keep an eye on that one.

I expect the low tide hunting to be slightly improved for a few days. I expect beach cobs to still be very rare.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

8/10 Report - Beach Conditions & More on Ex-Votos

A Variety of Ex-Votos.

Yesterday I talked about what appeared to be ex-voto cobs. To add to that, I'm showing these ex-votos that I found on eBay. Notice how the sacred heart ex-votos are shaped very much like the cob example that I showed yesterday.

Also notice the last one in the first column of pictures. I included it to show how other subjects, such as various body parts, sometimes are depicted.

Many of these still come from around Potosi and I suspect are used very much like the one made from a cob that I showed yesterday.

Pepsi is giving grants for projects to help the Florida Gulf area. The Florida Division of Historical Ressources has proposed a project S. O. S., which stands for save our shipwrecks.

If you would like to see the Florida Division of Historical Resources get some of the grant momey for their shipwreck project you can go to the web site and vote. Right now they need a lot of votes to get the money.

Here is the link to vote.


Too bad I didn't know about this earlier because I think some of the readers of this blog could propose some good projects.

A few days ago I talked about Kangxi China. Here is a photo of a piece of ceramics that was found on the Treasure Coast and submitted by one of the readers of this blog.

Forecast and Conditions. The seas are up this morning as predicted. The waves are hitting the beach from the southeast and cutting small cuts near the high tide mark at various spots along the Treasure Coast.

The tides are higher than normal, and in front of the beach, the sand is being churned.

When the seas calm down and the tide goes out, I would recommend hunting the low tide areas below the cuts. I'll bet you can find some nice coin lines.

The next couple of days the seas will be calming down again.

There is still an area of tropical disturbance to our east that has a %60 chance of becoming a cyclone. In my opinion, it probably will not affect us.

Happy hunting,

Monday, August 9, 2010

8/9 Report - Ex-Voto Silver Cobs

Heart-Shaped Cob.

This cob is a Potosi 1-real. I've also seen a Potosi eight-real having about the same shape.

The unusual shaped cobs like this one seem to bring a premium of maybe 10 or 20 times what a similar regular shaped cob would bring.

Occasionally you will see a cob that has an unusual shape and resembles an object such as a heart, other body part or animal. Some people think these unusually shaped cobs were possibly votive offerings to a saint. The offering might be given to the church in thanks for something like delivery from an illness or shipwreck, and might be given in fulfillment of a vow.

A variety of cobs have been found that look like hearts. They often have a drilled hole as if they were meant to be worn. And they are often of the proper weight, so it appears that they might have been manufactured that way at the mint rather than carved our of a cob afterwards. I read somewhere that people think the mint made the special cobs for an extra fee.

It seems that a good percentage of those come from Potosi, and you will sometimes find a number of ex-votos on eBay that seem to come from Potosi.

Wikipedia says that ex-voti may include "texts explaining a miracle or symbols such as a painted or modeled reproduction of a miraculously healed body part, or a directly related item such as a crutch given by a person formerly lame. In the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde in Marseille, France, the site of a major local pilgrimage, the ex-voti include paintings, plaques, model boats, war medals and even football shirts given by players and supporters of Olympique de Marseille, the local team. The magnificent Lod mosaic is thought to be an ex-voto expressing gratitude for rescue from a shipwreck."

Here is the link.


The largest number of treasure coins in the Florida collection are Mexican minted reales from the Treasure Coast. It seems that in recent years (the last 10) the Jupiter wreck has been the big contributor to the Florida Collection.

As you may know, the Atocha does not come under Florida's jurisdiction and the state doesn't get a share of that.

I'd like to see any photos of Philip IV or V Mexican or Potosi or Lima half reales. It's not easy to find a lot of good examples. I'm mostly interested in the side with the monogram.

Forecast and Conditions. There isn't much wind this morning and the seas are calm. There will be some increase tomorrow, perhaps up to three or four feet. That won't significantly change beach conditions.

There is a disturbance over us that will head west and out into the Gulf, and another out in the Atlantic that has a %70 percent chance of turning into a cyclone in the next 48 hours. I don't think it will affect us, but it is too early to be sure.

Occasionally you have some thunderstorms that churn up the beach front a little. That might well happen a few times this week.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

8/8 Report - Cannon Ball & Underwater Archaeology Handbook

Cannon Ball Apparently Associated with the 1715 Fleet Available on Ebay.

There is a label attached associating this cannon ball in some way with the Fragatilla Maria Gallante, which it is speculated has something to do with the Regla. I've seen some discussion supporting that idea, but am not familiar enough with the issue to get into the details or offer an opinion. You can do your own follow-up research if you are interested.

The web has become a very valuable tool for almost anyone, including treasure hunters, historians and archaeologists. The amount of useful information on the web increases daily, but when it comes to highly technical or specialized information, it can be quite difficult to locate.

Despite the usefulness of the web, there are still times when it is convenient or necessary to do some good old fashioned paper-based research. Electronic reading devices (ERD) don't provide some of the features that people like in books. About twenty years ago I did an analysis of that and as far as I can tell, nothing has really changed except ERDs have entered the mainstream even though advances, in my opinion, are very much over-hyped.

I've received some books that I will comment on in the near future, but one useful book that I discovered that you can browse online is the International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology by Carol Ruppe and Jan Barstad, 2002. As in many other books that you can browse online, there may be limits. Nonetheless, if you search effectively, you can often get to the information you most want.

In the International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology, I found the diving timeline especially interesting as well as the chapter on Florida underwater archaeology.

It might take a few minutes to learn to navigate the reader, but it can be worthwhile.

Here is the link.


You can click on "CONTENTS" and go from there, or use the keyword search.

The handbook mentions Kangxi pottery, which I've talked about recently, and also mentions Edwin Link, who developed underwater exploration technologies. You can probably still see some of his inventions at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, which is on US 1 between Fort Pierce and Vero.

Tip: With experience you can use pinpoint or all-metals mode on many metal detectors to determine the depth and shape of buried objects. The signals of deeper objects will generally sound less well defined. It takes practice, but you can learn to get that information out of the signal.

One more reminder. If you use discrimination or simply ignore iron targets, and there was an iron cannon filled with gold coins, you might pass right over it and miss it.

Forecast and Conditions.
The wind is from the west and the seas are still calm. Around Wednesday a slight increase in seas is expected, up to three or four feet..

Colin has moved well north of Florida, but the mid-Atlantic disturbance now has an increased chance (%60) of becoming a cyclone. The second is still too far away to know if it will affect us, but looks like it will pretty much follow Colin to the north.

I expect thundershowers through this week, which I like, except for the lightning. Be careful of that. You can often hear it in your headphones before hearing it audibly.

Remember, rain can wash things and can cause small amounts of concentrated erosion that can actually help you find things.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

8/7 Report - Signs of Treasure & the Information in Junk

14 silver coins were recently found on the Atocha Site by the crew of the JB Magruder. Records suggest that there are about 100,000 Atocha coins remaining to be found.

Those coins will be clean by electrolysis at the Key West conservation lab.

I recently received photos a spike and piece of China that were found on the Treasure Coast by one of this blog's readers. They asked how to tell if the spike was bronze or iron.

There are two quick and easy tests. Iron rusts and bronze doesn't. And iron is magnetic. For more information on the differences between iron an bronze, check out the following web site.


It seems that some very valuable comic books have been popping up lately. One copy of the first Superman comic saved a home for a family that was going into foreclosure. And the the other find was a copy of the Batman No. 1 comic book. The 70 years old comic book was found under a drawer in an old dresser sold at a garage sale in the 1970s. In excellent condition because of the cold, low humidity environment, the paper is still white. The expected auction price is over $40,000.

I also received an email asking how the small pieces of Chinese porcelain were used and what value, if any, they had. Almost any artifact from a famous shipwreck will have some value to collectors. Check the auction catalogs or ebay.

The smaller pieces are often made into jewelry and sold.

But there is another type of value of Hangxi and other non-metallic items that you should recognize as a detectorist. Any item that you find on a beach tells you something. It will tell you something about what activity took place on the particular beach and when. It might also tell you something about how the beach has developed and the sand has moved. That is very important information and can be worth more than gold, because it can lead you to more treasure. Never underestimate the value of information.

One coin is just one coin, unless you squeeze the information out of it.

Lets say you are walking along and get a signal and dig an aluminum pull tab three inches deep. Many people would simply throw it away in disgust. But the fact is that pull tab can tell you something.

It tells you that that spot is probably not the best spot to spend a lot of additional time, especially if you find another pull tab a foot away at six inches and another at one inch. That is probably the wrong place to spend much time.

Over time, things are sifted on a beach according to physical characteristics such as density, shape of object, etc. Various items will either be telling you to search a spot well or to move on.

That is one reason I recommend not using discrimination on a beach. Junk can provide important information if you understand what it is telling you. But you'll never hear it if you are discrinating it out.

There is simply to much beach to cover every square inch, so you want to spend your time in the most promising spots.

But back to the piece of Kangxi. That is what I call a sign of treasure. A piece of porcelain like that is not common and not generally found on the beach unless there is an old shipwreck nearby.

Of course, there are exceptions to all of this. Grandma might have brought one of her antique items on a picnic with the kids yesterday and it got broke. It could happen. But that is not highly likely, and other clues will verify or disprove your suspicions.

A sign of treasure is anything that suggests there is more treasure nearby. It could be an especially old brick, piece of lumber, spike, or whatever. No matter what the item's intrinsic value, a sign of treasure can be valuable as a "sign."

When you find a sign of treasure, analyze the item to determine how it got to where you found it.

A small piece of porcelain will travel more than other things like a ballast stone or cannon ball, for example. It will be moved more by the currents and will generally be found with materials of similar shape and density, like course shelly sand.

Try to determine it's likely path considering current beach conditions and where the heavier materials would be in relation to that.

I guess I could run on about that all day. I'll have to make it a part of my chapter on reading a beach if I ever get back to that project.

My main point today is simply that any object you find on a beach can provide some useful information, and that is especially true of any item that suggests the possible presence of a shipwreck or other source of additional treasure. Learn to extract and use that information. It can be your most valuable find.

Forecast and Conditions.It looks like the seas will remain calm for the next several days. That means no significant change in conditions.

Colin is to the north and way to the east of us. No local impact.

Another disturbance is 850 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. It has a %40 chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.

To me it looks like it might follow Colin, but it is too early to tell.

Happy hunting,

Friday, August 6, 2010

8/6 Report - Kangxi Porcelain & More

Piece of Chinese Porcelain Found on Treasure Coast Beach.

As you may know, Chinese Porcelain was carried by some of the 1715 Plate Fleet ships and has been found on those sites. You might be surprised to learn that pieces of Kangxi porcelain (sometimes spelled K'Hang Hsi) can be very valuable. Even small pieces can be of interest and are sometimes used in jewelry.

Kangxi porcelain is often blue and white. That is not a very distinctive characteristic though because a lot of pottery in the previous centuries was white and blue. Much of that other pottery was of a much lower quality.

If you find blue and white pieces on the beach, check any broken edges. Kangxi porcelain will typically be thinner and whiter than the more common types of old pottery. It will be very dense.

Many older pieces, such as the American and British pieces that you might find, will be thicker, much more porous and more yellow than white.

I often say to keep you eyes open when you detect. There are many types of treasure other than metallic. Keep your eyes open for things like wax seals (I found one very nice one that somehow survived the centuries), wood artifacts, and glass and pottery.

Here is a web site that shows a number of pictures of Kangxi porcelain.

I know of one guy that saw a stacked set of plates being eroded out of the dunes. He thought nothing or it. He thought it might just be from some one's picnic. The fact is that he could have passed up something much more valuable than a cache of cobs. After he learned that they could be valuable, he went back to find them, but couldn't.

Live and learn.

Talking of non-metallic finds,two days ago I posted a photo and asked if you knew what the object was.

Here is the other side of the object. It's not a cannon ball. It's a three fingered bowling ball.

Finding things like that make me laugh. I always wonder how they got to be in the ocean. Actually, this is the third bowling ball I've found under water. I wonder how it would work as a cannon ball.

I've found billiard balls, horse shoes, dentures, and even an artificial leg in the water. Too bad I didn't take a picture of that. It had a shoe on it too.

As I've mentioned before, rivers hide a lot of archaeology. The USS Scorpion from the war of 1812 has possibly been found in a river. Here is the link for more of that story.


I've received a number of common questions from readers lately, most of which I've answered in the past in this blog. One thing you might try is using the keyword search feature on the blog. It works well and will help you find posts related to your question.

One common question is about what detector to buy. My general answer to that you can not go too wrong if you buy a detector from any of the major manufacturers. When buying your first detector, I do not recommend buying the most expensive or fanciest detector. Learn to use a basic detector before deciding exactly what more specialized detector you might want in the future if you stick with the hobby and want to upgrade.

Another thing I recommend for someone buying their first detector, is to go someplace where they you can see a demonstration various detectors. See how they set it up and how it works. That can save you a lot of wasted time and help you make sure that you are comfortable with the detector you are buying.

After buying a basic detector, learn how to use it well. I've given instructions on that before in this blog.

The right detector for you will depend on many factors including things like, what you most want to find, where you hunt, budget and even your personality characteristics.

Forecast and Conditions. It looks like Colin has become a tropical storm again, but it also looks like Colin will stay far east of us. I don't think Colin will affect local beach conditions.

There is another storm coming off Africa. It is too early to say what that one will do.

If the surf web sites are correct, the seas will be calm all week, and we'll have more of the same old poor conditions. Still it is so hot that people are going to the beach and replenishing the beach banks.

Happy hunting,