Tuesday, July 12, 2011

7/12/11 Report - Two Crude Silver Finds and the Issue of Depth

Two Crude Unmarked Silver Beach Finds.

Both test as silver, and both are unmarked. The cross has the Latin word for Peace, PAX, on the front of it even though I don't think you can see that in the photo. It appears that it once had a loop on it that broke off.

I don't know what the symbol on the ring is. I'm always happy to hear your thoughts on unidentified beach finds like this.

Google Books provides a very good resource. Some books can be read in part or entirely online. One book in Google Books that you might be interested in and that you can scan (partly) is Buried Treasure of the Atlantic Coast by Jameson.

Here is the link to the section on Georgia/Florida.


I often talk to people that think their detector is not detecting deep enough. They are concerned about how deep their detector will detect, and want the deepest seeking detector they can afford. They seem to think that if they can detect another foot deeper their finds will increase dramatically. In my opinion, depth is an issue that is highly over-rated when it comes to beach detecting.

Of course you need a detector that will detect targets at some depth. That is what a detector is supposed to do. But your goal isn't to find the deepest targets that you can.

First of all, you have to consider the type of target. A lot of the time I hear people talk about how deep a detector will detect a quarter. That might provide one estimate of a detector's power, but that isn't the most important thing unless your primary target is quarters.

Some detectors are better at detecting small pieces of silver and gold than others. Other detectors are better at detecting other metals such as copper or iron, for example. And others are good at detecting large pieces of metal at depth, but not very good at detecting smaller pieces of shallow precious metals. You would often be better off with a detector that will detect smaller items made of precious metals than detecting large pieces of metal two or three feet deep.

Tesoro detectors, from my experience, seem to be very good at detecting small pieces of precious metals but not so good at detecting clad coins at great depth, especially in wet salt mineralized sand. Which would you be most interested in?

Many people that read this blog want to find silver or gold shipwreck cobs on the beach. Many beach cobs are small, particularly those that wash in from the ocean on certain beaches. The cobs that come from Bon Steel Park, for example, tend to be small half reales.

Half reales can be very small. Some people are surprised when they first see them. Back in the eighties, many people hunting the Treasure Coast beaches were missing almost all of the small denomination cobs, because they were using too much discrimination. I suspect that is still the case.

I remember once showing a couple of guys that showed up on the beach where to look and how to set their detector settings and in less than an hour they found their first cobs (half reale in the sea weed line). I think most experienced detectorists these days know enough to not run around looking for cobs while using too much discrimination. (The conditions were good that day, not like the current beach conditions.)

It is funny to me that it seems so many people are so concerned about depth, but then they run around using too much discrimination. If you want to find the smaller denomination cobs, you shouldn't be using very much discrimination. I prefer not using any.

The guy that made some of my detectors once told me that he had a new modification that would make my detector detect deeper. I told him that I didn't want any deeper. We both laughed. But it was true. I didn't want or need any more depth.

My primary focus is on finding hot spots such as the coin lines or holes that I've talked about in the past. I don't have a lot of interest in covering hundreds of yards of sand for a few scattered targets. The first thing I hunt is the location of any hot spots. When I go out on a beach, that is what I am looking for.

By "hot spots" I mean any good concentration of old coins or items made of precious metals. Hot spots are generally not deep. They are concentrations of items that have been either recently uncovered or recently deposited on the beach. The vast majority of them are not under tons of sand. And the first step is to find the hot spot and clean out the shallow targets before really getting down to cleaning out any of the deeper items that may be under the shallower items.

It is something like hunting wild game. The wise old Indian will stalk game at watering spots or grazing areas where he can get a good shot at an easy target. That is my primary focus - finding concentrations of easy targets. If you can find a hot spot, you can pick up a number of targets in a short period of time.

I don't want to spend fifteen minutes trying to dig a hole to China. There are times to dig deep holes, but that is not the most important thing or the most productive way to spend your time if you want to find old valuable coins or jewelry on a beach. The last three words in that sentence are important, because beach hunting is different. In other locations, the approach would be different.

I've been digging some deep targets lately. It is time consuming. But I only resorted to that because local beach conditions have been so poor, and I wanted to dig some shipwreck spikes and things like that. Even doing that, it is not important to have a real deep seeking detector. Those items are relatively large and can be detected at depth with little difficulty. If they are really deep, you might not want to spend the time digging really big holes on the beach, and when you get down to the water table, you probably won't be able to get them out anyhow - at least not easily. Again, you don't need the deepest seeking detector. Any decent detector will be able to detect those types of targets about as deep as you'll want to dig.

If you are interested in digging deep artifacts on the beaches right now, definitely switch to all-metals or pin-point mode and dig everything. It might help if you take a shovel with you. Be prepared for a lot of hard work and few good finds.

I've said this before, but I've seldom had to dig more than a couple inches for shipwreck cobs. When they are on the beach and in detector range, they are usually shallow. I've eye-balled as many cobs laying on the sand in plain sight than I've dug deeper than two or three inches deep.

If you remember the old stories, cobs were often found laying right on the surface after storms. That confirms what I am telling you. If you are digging deep holes in the sand, my bet is that you won't be finding many cobs. You might be lucky enough to find a ton of gold bars, but I wouldn't count on it.

To sum this all up, detecting depth, in my opinion, is highly over-rated when it comes to hunting shipwreck cobs on a beach. There are other factors to consider that are just as important as depth, and probably more important. Know what you really want to find and the conditions and select your detector based upon those factors - not how deep a detector will detect a clad coin in an air test.

By the way, you probably realized that an air test is not a highy accurate way of judging the depth you will get in the field.

And once again, I highly recommend experimenting in the field with sample targets like those you want to find.

If you want to find cobs, focus on the small ones, and the larger ones will take care of themselves. I've given this advice before, but if you don't have a small half reale to use as a test target, take an old worn silver dime, cut it in quarters, and use one quarter as your test target. Take it to the beach and set your detector to get a good clear signal on the test item. You'll then be pretty much ready to detect half reales and larger denomination reales.

When hunting the dry sand tourist beaches you don't generally need much depth for the vast majority of targets. You should however use a detector that will detect tiny pieces of gold. Too much discrimination will hurt you more than not having the deepest seeking detector.

Treasure Coast Beach Forecast and Conditions.

Beach conditions remain unchanged. More of the same.

The wind is still from the west and the sea running down around one foot.

There is however a little action in the tropics. There is one low pressure wave over Central America and the Yucatan and the one still down by the islands. Neither will likely form into a cyclone though, and it will be a while before either directly affects us.

Happy hunting,