Saturday, May 14, 2011

5/14/11 Report - Late Hopewell Copper Point & Beads

Truly Significant Find by Larry Persina.

I was recently up north where I talked to Larry who brought this find to show me. It is a rare and important find that has been studied by archaeologists from both the Carnegie Museum and the Smithsonian. It is a copper point or knife with copper beads. It appears the point shows evidence that it was worn on a cord rather than used as a point. The experts believe that it was a ceremonial object rather than utilitarian and was possibly associated, along with the beads, with a cremation burial. The copper items were found far from where copper artifacts are normally found. The item is thought to be Late Hopewell.

(The lines in the photo came from the light coming through Venetian blinds and reflections on his display case.)

I was doing some off-beach hunting myself - way off beach.

I actually found a man-hole cover down in a deep gully along an old trail up north. I had to leave it for now because there was simply no way to get it up over the steep slippery bank with the equipment I had at the time. Not what I was looking for, but I thought it was neat nonetheless. I can get it some other time. I was on an old wagon/Indian trail that I find very interesting. Maybe I'll have some more on that in the future.

As you might know, I often recommend doing some different types of hunting once in a while, and that is what I was doing.

It appears that one of my recent posts did not post when it was supposed to or else disappeared prematurely. I got a note about that from a faithful reader. I don't know what happened, but after the disappearance, I reposted the same post on the 13th. Evidently there was some type of technical difficulty that I was not aware of until receiving an email about it.

Sometimes I do miss a day, and sometimes I might even miss two or three days. I try to avoid that but sometimes I don't get time to write a new post and sometimes I don't get computer access for one reason or another. If there is a day or two when a post doesn't appear, it might be a technical difficulty or it might be that I just wasn't able to create a new post. I know it will happen from time to time, so please accept my apologies in advance.

I also received an email telling of one detectorist who found a nice diamond ring and was going to go into detecting full-time. Since I am not trying to sell detectors or anything, one reader told me it would be good if I'd inform other readers about how low the return on investment is for detecting. That person was right. Very, very, very few beach detectorists actually make any kind of profit from detecting. Most are like fisherman who spend more on their hobby than they ever make.

Sometimes people, riding a high off of a big recent find, feel like going into detecting full time. Don't quit your day job to do that until you have done some real serious research.

There are a few pros out there but very very few, and all of those that I have known, primarily hunt the water in one of the top tourist areas in the country. If you intend to try to detect full-time, you better prove to yourself over a period of at least six months that you can make a sufficient profit before you give up your day job.

And don't forget to take into account your expenses. You will start out in the hole whatever amount you paid for your detector, scoop, etc., and then there will be gas, parking, etc. etc. It is not easy, I would say that 98% of those who detect could not begin to make a living by detecting for one reason or another.

First off, if you do not live in an area like Miami or Honolulu, where you have a lot of high-end tourist swimming beaches, I would bet against your chances of making a living at detecting.

And if you are thinking of becoming a Mel Fisher, be prepared to spend years and years and years spending money on boats, equipment, dive crews, etc. etc. before hitting it big.

Did you ever stop to think why the biggest most famous treasure salvage companies in the world are still seeking investors after years of publicized big treasure finds? Wouldn't you think they are rolling in money? Why would you want or need to fund your efforts with other peoples money? Why don't they fund their own efforts with their own profits so they can keep all the future profits for themselves? One big reason is that treasure hunting is a long shot that requires a lot of investment and can take a long time to pay off - and even that is not certain. You have to beat the odds to make it. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

Did you realize that most of the people that made big money in the California gold rush were the people who sold alcohol, transportation, lodging or supplies and equipment to the dreamers? It's true. Very very few of the down in the dirt miners made fortunes that lasted. It was mostly the people who sold goods or services to the miners that made the big fortunes, or those that bought up the land and paid others to do the mining.

My bet is that most people that buy a detector and go out expecting to hit it big don't last more than a year or two. They try it and after spending a lot of hard time in the hot sun, give up.

A survey I did in this blog showed that a lot of the readers of this blog have been detecting more than ten years. That survey obviously didn't count all of those who gave it a try and gave up. They aren't reading this blog and they weren't represented well in the survey.

To be able to make a profit at detecting you have to be in the right place. Second, you have to spend a lot of time on the beach before you either learn you can't do it or learn how to do it. It doesn't come quick or easy.

When I started, I know that at least for the first year I was on the steep part of the learning curve. There is a lot to learn. I don't remember how long it actually took to learn how to get a decent return on investment.

I discovered that if I wanted to make a living by detecting, it wasn't as much fun. Believe me, there are many much easier ways to make a living. Just think about it a minute, if you have to go out there and produce, the pressure is on and the fun is gone.

I detect how I want to these days. If I don't want to go out, I don't. And sometimes I hunt where I want to and what I want to, even if the probability of pay-off is slim and the target is not worth much. I hunt what interests me, not necessarily what will bring in the most money. If you are out to maximize economic return, you can't always do that.

People like Larry, who found the copper point, keep their finds. They enjoy them. They are not interested in selling them.

The profit motive completely changes the activity. I won't explain all of that now.

Unless you are one of those people who has the passion, perseverance, capability, opportunity and absolutely right situation, detect as a hobby. Go out and have fun. Do it how you want to, not how you have to to make it pay.

I don't want to discourage anyone today, but I don't want you believing that you can quit your day job and make a living detecting without putting in a lot of hard time and effort, and still the odds are against you. A few, very few, people can do it, but the vast majority of people won't and don't want to. I've alluded to some of the reasons above.

If you are dead set determined to make a living at detecting, I'd simply advise you to take a least six months and prove to yourself that you can make a good enough profit to live on. Keep a detailed accounting of income versus expenses. You might be surprised how much expenses eat into profits. And don't go on what you think you can get for that ring you found. Actually sell it and see what you can get for it. There are expenses to selling, and when you have to sell, you can't always get top dollar. A pawn shop isn't going to give you top dollar. They'll give you about half of what they can sell it for. They have to make a profit on the transaction and there are expenses involved in selling. So don't go on what you think your finds are worth, find out what you can actually get for them. Valuations aren't income.

My bet is that most people would not even pay for their detector over the first year. And like I said, if you have to depend upon detecting for your living, you'll likely not enjoy it nearly so much. Unless you are already absolutely driven, keep it fun.

Treasure Coast Beach Forecast and Conditions

The seas have been running around 4.5 feet and the wind is south/southwest. I haven't been out on the local beaches for a few days but plan to check them out before long so I can report what has been going on. I'm not really expecting much but will let you know what I find. As I said, I've been off-beach for a while.

Low tide today is around noon with the high tide being about 6.

Happy hunting,