Monday, January 31, 2011

1/31/2011 Silver Plate Find & Value of Keeping Metal Detecting Records

Old Silver Plate Found with Metal Detector.

I found this silver plate a number of years ago. The penny in the plate is for size comparison.

Since the time the plate was found the price of silver has gone up nicely and now the plate is worth about ninety dollars in melt value.

I personally value the plate higher than that as an interesting artifact and would never melt it down, but with current metals prices these days it is worth digging things like this.

I ran across some of my old records the other day. Unfortunately I only found two pages and the year wasn't marked on those pages,but I know those records are from when I first started detecting. Even though I kept fairly detailed records, I wish I would have kept more detailed records. It was fun looking at what them anyhow.

If I was starting out again, I would keep better records. I'd recommend that you consider keeping good detailed records of your finds. It can help you determine things like the most productive hunting areas, what things you are finding when using different detectors, and if you keep really detailed records, what detector settings are working best for you under specific conditions.

When I first started I was primarily keeping track of the number of coins I found. After a few months, I see that I added information about where I hunted, including if I hunted the wet sand, dry sand, or in the water, and descriptions of any jewelry or other interesting finds.

I also recommend adding the detector used and the settings used, but I doubt that many people are that detail oriented. The information could be useful if you have the discipline to keep it though.

One Page of My Old Metal Detecting Records.

Just to see the percentage of different types of coins found, I took my total from one place in my records where I totaled 8978 coins found. Doing the math revealed that at that point, about 18% of the coins were quarters, 21% dimes, 12% nickels, and 48% pennies.

Unfortunately I don't know what detector I was using then, but since the records are from shortly after I started, I would guess that I was probably using my Fisher 1280 Aquanaut.

Later I started keeping track of jewelry items and their approximate value. That can be a very important statistic because even though some places produced many jewelry items, there were places that produced fewer but much more valuable items. One good piece of jewelry can be worth more than a dozen lower quality pieces. Since some places tend to produce more valuable items, you have to make a decision whether you want to go for quantity or quality.

I knew one place where I could almost always find a some type of jewelry, but it was never the highest quality. I usually decided to go where I could find the higher quality items even if it took longer.

Good records can help you make decisions like that. As they say, past results do not guarantee future returns, but knowledge help you make more informed decisions.

Of course many factors go into determining your level of productivity and you have to take many factors into account if you want to make the best decisions. One very big factor is current conditions. No matter what a particular beach has produced in the past, you should consider present conditions.

Besides keeping paper records (a spreadsheet would be a good idea but has some disadvantages too), I also regularly took photos of jewelry or other interesting finds. That is helpful in a variety of ways, especially if you keep them in a safe deposit box, which I highly recommend.

I can't understand all of the codes on my records now, so if you want to be able to look back and decipher your records, be sure to make them clear.

On another subject, if you have a bunch of finds to store, separately wrap them. Silver and other metals stored together can leach and discolor. Of course, you don't have to worry about that with gold, but other metals, especially if they are corroded or tarnished, should be individually wrapped.

One person sent an email asking about a rock that they found. I responded to their email only to have my response kicked back. I generally respond to emails but sometimes something happens - sometimes due to technology.

Forecast and Conditions

The wind is from the east today, but the seas are very calm. It might be a good time to get in the water. Smooth water is easier to work, although not always the most productive.

It looks like conditions won't change much for the next few days.

I haven't been out lately, but will have to get out there just to look around.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1/29/2011 Report - Barber Dime & Other Old Coins From the Port Salerno Area

A Few Nice Metal Detector Finds.

Photos submitted by Mike T. who found these items.

Since shipwreck beach conditions haven't been very good lately, a few times I've mentioned the idea of hunting some different places and going after different types of things. Doing some different things every once in a while can improve your chances of success and you'll learn some new things in the process. In sports they call that type of thing cross training.

One of the guys I talked to on the beach a couple of days ago was from Arizona and mostly hunted ghost towns. He said he missed finding silver dollars and things like that.

Everyone, I think, has a special interest in a particular kind of treasure. For some people it is gold and diamond jewelry, for others it is old coins, for others it is gold nuggets, others like fossils or Indian artifacts, and for others it is shipwreck treasures. But for treasure hunter there alwasy seems to be one type of treasure that gets them most excited.

What you hunt to some extent is determined by where you live and what you know about that can be found in the local area. When I was talking to the fellow from Arizona, I pointed out that there were a couple of 17th Century shipwrecks just a short distance from where we were. He thought you would have to get in the water to be able to get anything off of those shipwrecks. You certainly have a better chance at things like that with a salvage boat, blowers, tanks etc., but sometimes things like that do wash up onto the beaches.

But the point I wanted to make is that most people focus on one or two specific types of treasure, and most people know about those types of treasures and how to hunt them, but they don't know as much about how to hunt other types of things.

Hunting coins is definitely much different from hunting fossils or Indian artifacts. You can use a metal detector to find coins but fossils can't be detected with a metal detector. You have to use other techniques to find them. You have to develop a different set of skills and a different knowledge base to do well hunting fossils or Indian artifacts.

You'll probably be best at finding what you hunt the most. But if you hunt other types of things and do other types of hunting, you'll learn things that can help you no matter what you hunt. You can always learn something from one type of hunting that will help you with another type of hunting. That is one reason, I recommend doing something different every once in a while.

Mike said that in South Stuart near Port Salerno ...there is quite a bit of history dating back the early 1900’s due to the railroad, the fishing industry and of course pineapples. Over the last few months Martin County has been making improvements in the downtown and waterfront areas of Port Salerno. This included adding some water lines, drainage and most specifically digging up an old alley between the current Post Office and one of the oldest buildings in town. In the early 1900’s this dirt “alley” was used extensively as a means to get fish from the fish houses down on the Manatee Pocket up to the railroad for shipment. So when the County started digging up this old alley way I just couldn’t believe it! What an opportunity to hunt some well traveled ground that might hold some treasures from long ago.

Fortunately the contractor was slow and made a number of mistakes along the way which gave me ample opportunity to hunt it on a number of occasions at different stages and depths of digging. As you can see from the pictures included there were some treasures there indeed and I'm sure many more which are now covered in concrete for another 100 years. The venture yielded a 1912 Barber Dime in excellent condition, a1902 Indian Head also in excellent condition, a 1945 East Indies Penny and several wheat cents and of course quite a number of modern coins as well. One of the most interesting things was an original COTY lipstick case circa 1920’s. Unfortunately it was a bit damaged but it has a beautiful design etched into the case and it still has lipstick in it! There were also a number of old bottles found too which was really cool to see and of course due to the fact that it is a fishing village we must have dug at least 10lbs of old lead sinkers from all the old fishing nets. There was no shortage of trash either which called for the use of a 6” coil and what a difference that made in picking out the good stuff!

I must say though that one of the best treasures I found in all was meeting a fellow treasure hunter named John who was visiting from the North East. I was a really pleasure meeting someone else with the same enthusiasm for finding “stuff” as me!

Thanks for the story Mike. It should give some people some hints.

Even though Treasure Coast residents hunt the shipwreck beaches a lot, there are other places to detect on the Treasure Coast. In fact I've mentioned the Bulldozer Hoard that was found on the mainland near Sebastian. I'm sure there are other mainland Spanish Colonial coins to be found as well.

Mike noticed the construction that was going on in an area with a lot of historic activity. It is good to take notice whenever old ground is being turned up. That can bring old treasures into detecting range just like erosion can uncover old coins on the beach.

To summarize my two main points today, first is try new things and places occasionally, and second, always watch for newly disturbed earth, no matter what the cause.

Forecast and Conditions.

Not much new to talk about here. The wind is from the northwest and the seas are calm and will remain calm for a few more days. That means no significant change in beach conditions.

The low tide areas are still pretty accessible. I noticed that the second low tide today will be the lowest.

Happy hunting,

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28/2011 - Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster 25 Years Ago Today & Pieces Still Being Found

One Nice Cut on a Treasure Coast Beach.

This cut was about three feet high and went for a few hundred yards. It was at least a few days old.

Yesterday I took a look at three different beaches. I saw detectorists at all three, but all three of them were near the beach access. The cut shown in the photo above was a good distance from a beach access and I saw no one there.

Most detectorists hit the same old over-hunted spots over and over again. Yes, any of those good spots could become productive over night, but when conditions are not changing you might do better trying some new areas. It is a good idea to hunt proven areas, but sometimes you should invest some time in exploration.

The space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred 25 years ago today. How time flies! It's not subject to gravity. Actually I think it might be - in a way.

It seems people are still finding pieces of melted metal on the Treasure Coast beaches that might have came from the Challenger. Some have been reported recently.

You might want to go back to my 3/26/2010 post where one of this blog's readers, who had some pieces that he found tested by NASA, told how to test those pieces of metal.

Of course you can also use the blog's search box to find posts mentioning space shuttle finds.

I don't think people use the search box enough. There are over two years of posts in this blog now.

Now back to the topic that I began at the beginning of this post. There are definitely some spots where coins tend to wash up (or out) whenever conditions are good, but when beach conditions haven't changed significantly for a while, there is very little use of everybody hunting the same ground over and over a thousand times.

I don't mind hunting behind people - even a lot of people - when conditions are good. But when conditions are not so good and haven't changed for a while, it might be better scout around a bit.

I often refer to cuts as being either "fresh" or "stale." A relatively new cut with a crisp bottom edge is what I call a fresh cut. And of course a stale cut would be an older cut that is starting to collapse of fill in. And a stale cut would also be a cut that has probably already been hunted at least a few times.

Fresh cuts are generally more desirable. But sometimes there aren't any. In that case a stale cut might be better than a newly filled beach - especially if it was producing when it was fresh. Things can be missed, and things can fall out of the deteriorating bank.

Again, I don't mind hunting where others have already hunted. Take note of any clues you might see that would tell you how the previous hunters hunted, and do something different.

If an area is especially promising, I like to cover an area using more than one type of detector. All detectors have their own strengths and weaknesses and one will find what another misses. Of course, different people hunt differently too. In the past I've talked a bit about how to tell what the previous detectorists did or didn't do.

I talked to a few guys on the beaches lately that were saying that they were thinking of getting an Excalibur. They all had what I would call very good detectors. And even though the Excal is a very good detector, I don't think they'll see much improvement over what they already had.

When people aren't finding much, they tend to blame their detector - or at least start to wonder if another detector would help them find more. In most case, I would say, "Maybe a little, but not much." In many cases, I don't think there would be much improvement at all.

If you are concerned about money, and who isn't, I'd advise trying to test any detector before buying a new one. You might be surprised to learn that your present detector does just as well as the one you haven't yet tried. A dollar saved is a dollar found.

It seems that the Excal is now one of the most common detectors used on the Treasure Coast. Ten and twenty years ago, Garrett detectors seemed to be the favorite.

I personally don't put a lot of emphasis on which detector is best. Like I said, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I look at detectors something like golf clubs. Pick the right one for the situation. And learn to use the one you have. I would say that a lot of people have good detectors but they aren't always using it to best advantage.

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. When I started detecting, I used a Fisher 1280. It was and still is a good detector. I used it for quite a while and it paid for itself in clad coins alone the first year. But at first I thought that women didn't lose many gold rings, because I found a lot more men's rings. What I later learned is that just as many women lose gold rings. The thing is, I was using discrimination at first, and as a result, only finding the bigger rings. I tell you that to emphasize the fact that how you use your detector is just as important as what detector you use.

I ran across a nice web site the other day showing some neat pictures of the Hallaton Treasure.

You might want to take a look. I enjoyed studying the artifacts.

Forecast and Conditions.

I've already talked about this. Current beach conditions are poor. However, if you take a long walk, you can probably find some cuts to hunt.

The wind is out of the northwest and the seas are calm. It looks like the ocean will remain calm until next week. That means that conditions won't be changing much until then.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1/26/2011 Report - Flint Pocket Pistol Found on Treasure Coast & Charles II Half Reales

Treasure Coast Beach Metal Detector Find by Mike H. in 2009.

Mike, who submitted the photo said, "...included is a picture of a very small flint model pocket pistol, the rivets are still visible. I found this near turtle crossing north of Vero Beach."

That is an interesting find. Mike coated the pistol with Rust-oleum Clear Coat to preserve it and that accounts for the shiny appearance in the photo.

That is one interesting find. Congratulations Mike!

Yesterday I posted pictures of stylized Charles and Philip monograms as they would appear on half reales form the 1715 Fleet.

The design for many half reales of the period included a date. Due to the small size and irregular shape of half reales, the date is often not found. There are other clues help you narrow down the date though.

On the Charles II Mexican half reales, if you can see anything to the left of the monogram, you might see the mint mark and assayers initial, which would be an O over an M over a G. The OM is the mint mark (Mexico) and the G is the assayer's initial.

Mexican Charles II Half Reale Found on 1715 Fleet Beach.

On this example, I think you can see most of the assayer's initial (G) to the left of the monogram. And perhaps the "R" inside the "C" of the monogram. From the examples I've seen, the left side of the "A" in the monogram is more slanted than what you see on the Lima and Potosi minted half reales, which would also have the last three digits of the year directly under the Charles monogram.

On the Charles II half reale that I showed yesterday you couldn't see to the left of the monogram and therefore couldn't see any of the mint mark or assayer's initial.

Anyone who studies cobs knows that it is a vast field. There are so many variations and minor details that can be significant.

For example, one thing that will help you distinguish between Lima and Potosi half reales is that on the Lima Charles II half reales the circle around the monogram is composed of more circular or round dots while those on the Potosi half reale of the same period is composed of more comma-shaped dots.

I like to learn what I can about dug cobs, but it is really a bit overwhelming.

A nine-year-old stopped his grandfather from throwing away a Neolithic axhead. The grandfather was throwing stones for the dog when the boy recognized the flint tool.

Here is the link to that story.

I'm sure that a lot of you have discarded very nice finds. I've done it myself. That is why I say to keep anything that might be questionable until you get a positive identification.

Forecast and Conditions.

The low tide this morning was lower than usual. I was able to search out further than usual but still couldn't dig up that one object I've been working on.

Although conditions are still poor for finding shipwreck coins, the low tide area might turn up some artifacts. I dug some iron objects that were obviously old, but encrusted and unidentifiable.

One area that was cut very nicely a couple of weeks ago and yielded a number of gold items as well as coins was cutting again, but was not back down to the productive layers yet. That could happen if the same area keeps eroding.

There are a lot of scalloped areas out there, but they are so high on the beach and in such sandy areas that I don't think you'll find them very productive.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1/25/11 Report - King Philip and Charles Half Reale Cob Monograms

Charles II Cob Found by Metal Detector on Treasure Coast Beach.

Most of the cobs that I've found on the Treasure Coast have come from 1715 Fleet beaches. And most of those cobs have been Philip V cobs. But there are also a good number of Charles II cobs found on the 1715 Fleet beaches.

Charles II reigned from 1665 through 1700, and so those cobs are older than the Philip V cobs that were minted from 1700 up until they were loaded onto the ships. Of course there are also older cobs with the Philip monogram minted under the reigns of kings Philip III and IV.

You can easily identify the Philip half reales, which have the monograms featuring a big P and S. I recently posted a photo of a Mexican Philip V half reale that showed the obvious P and S on the monogram.

Stylized Philip Monogram Design.

The Philip monogram varies in a myriad of different details on different coins as different dies were produced under the different kings and at the different mints but they all show some very similar features.

The Charles II monogram features a big C and A, which I've found to be the most distinctive features of the monogram that appears on the Charles II half reales that I've found.

You usually can't see the entire monogram on most half reales, but you can usually see enough to easily distinguish between the Philip and Charles monograms.

Stylized Charles II Monogram.

Like the Philip cobs, Charles II monogrammed cobs differ in a variety of details. Although there are differences produced by the different dies, the Charles II monogram is usually easily identifiable.

In the photo of the Mexican minted Charles II half reale above, you can see the A overlapping the C. The S is not apparent at all.

After looking at a variety of these monograms you can learn to identify them easily even when very little of the monogram shows.

It is more difficult to identify which of the various King Philips a particular half reale was minted under. To do that you have to look at other details. Sometimes you can see the assayer's initial or other details that will indicate when the cob was minted. Sometimes, but much less often, you can find a date on a half reale.

On another subject - the ship's bell, belonging to a ship found off of St. Augustine during the summer of 2009,has not yet given up the name of the ship. Conservators are removing encrustation from the bell with the hope of finding a clue to the identity of the ship. While the bell hasn't spoken yet, there is still some hope that it will, as about one quarter of the bell is still encrusted.

Here is the link to that story.

Forecast and Conditions.

The seas are up around four feet and the wind is out the southeast. I haven't been out but wouldn't expect much change. After today the seas will be decreasing and becoming very calm by the weekend.

If you are set on finding shipwreck treasures, your work is cut out for you. It won't be easy. Conditions just aren't that good.

As I've suggested, there are other things to hunt until conditions improve.

But if you are dead set on shipwreck treasures, I would be either trying something different, maybe hunting a land or other less commonly hunted site, or hitting the low tide zone.

View From

It looks like a little scalloping up there from what I can see from the web cam.

Looks to me to be pretty much the same as the beaches down south.

Happy hunting,

Friday, January 21, 2011

1/21/11 Report - Marine Salvage, Double Eagles & Cross of Mexican Mint

More Marine Salvage Shown at the Indian River Nautical Flea Market Last Weekend.

You expect to hear about ancient gold coins being dug up in England, but less to be expected were a bunch of US Double Eagles that were unearthed in a London garden.

Here is more of that story.

There are always surprises to be found.

They are going to spend a million dollars to truck sand for South Beach at Fort Pierce again.

I suspect that some of that sand will eventually find its way south to the Nieves site, hurting beach hunting there.

I believe that one reason that the beaches have been producing so few cobs the past few years is the large amount of dredged sand that has been dumped on the Treasure Coast beaches.

The Fisher Group out of Key West reports that the crew of the Dare found a gun powder flask. They are preparing to go after the ship code-named Lost Merchant.

My Jan. 13, 2011 post showed a photo of a half reale found on a 1715 Fleet beach. I didn't show the back of that cob.

Other Side of Same Half Reale Shown on 1/13/11.

Even though half reales are my personal favorite Spanish cobs, the cobs you find on the beach are often not in great condition, and it is difficult to see much of the design of the coin. You can usually identify cobs minted in Mexico because all you need to see is the style of cross, part of which is usually visible, as it is on this cob.

I got a couple of responses concerning the metal band that I showed a few days ago. I didn't think it was very old but was still curious about it.

Dave O. used to manufacture band strapping. This is what he said.

The piece was wrapped around a product and then inserted into a hand ratcheting tightener , the band's one end layed flat and the other end was
slid into a slot on a small drum (You can see how small where its curled) Then a ratcheting handle pulled the banding tight around the product curling it , Then you would place an open seal clamp on the band and then with a hand sealer (Looks like Hand pruner snips) with finger jaws crimped the seal on the band to hold it permanently .

We made a variety of widths and thicknesses also seals, corrugated nails for picture frames, silver stitch (the small metal rings around coffee cans)
You may have seen the banding around flats of wood packaged on train cars, crates etc.

Thanks for the authoritative response Dave.

I always have items that I'm curious about. Being curious about all types of junk helps me stay interested during those times when there just doesn't seem to be any flashy treasure around.

Forecast and Conditions.

Conditions are poor. Someone told me that it was getting hard to stay motivated. I'm sure that is the case for more than one person. But what if you spent years looking for the Atocha? Sometimes it's like that. Sometimes there are long dry spells. That has certainly been the case the past two years along the Treasure Coast. It just hasn't been very good for finding shipwreck treasure on the beaches very often, and when it has improved a little, it seems it only lasts a short time or the cuts are not in the best places.

The thing is, you have to be ready. The treasure chest opens when it will. You have to be in position and ready. Sometimes that means doing a little travel or doing a different kind of hunting.

When things are slow, do your research. scout around, become more familiar with the various beaches and learn to use your equipment more effectively. Improve your skills, take what the sea is giving, and learn from any clues that you find in the mean time.

The wind is from the west this morning, but the water got up on the beach pretty high at the last high tide. You might have seen the near full moon this morning.

A cold front will be coming through soon and the seas will increase to around five feet.

Today I was picking up fossils that are thousands of years old in shell piles. I didn't even turn my detector on. I was doing what I said - taking what the sea was giving - and looking for any clues to possible future developments.

Be aware. Be flexible. Go with the flow.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1/19/2011 Report - Salvaged Nautical Objects & Half a Million Dollar Gold Coin

Salvaged Nautical Items.

These were some of the items that were for sale at the Nautical Flea Market last week at the Indian River Fairgrounds. Some pretty neat stuff.

You don't have to find a galleon or gold coin to find treasure. These items were selling for around $150 for the lowest priced items and up into the thousands. I think you can see why.

Nautical theme items are very popular now for decor.

Like with anything else, you have to be careful if you are particular about what you want. While these may be authentic salvage items, some items are fabricated. At the flea market the fabricated items were selling for less. The vendors appeared to be honest.

While out checking out an old detector, I found this metal band. Can you tell me what it was used for?

This metal band is about twelve feet long. A three foot section was broken off. I think it was probably used to bundle some kind of large heavy items.

The length of the loop was adjusted by tightening one end into a circle as shown, and then the end right before the tight loop was clamped. I think you can see that in the photo.

I wonder how many detectorists have never detected their own yard? You should do that if you haven't. Besides never knowing what you might find, it can be a good place to test your detector or learn how to use it better.

My old Tesoro Royal Sabre makes a good relic hunting machine. Even though it is as old as the hills it works great on dry land or the dry beach. It is not real good at ground adjusting in the wet sand.

The daily Jupiter Beach pictures web site link is now under my Treasure Links List.

An ancient Anglo-Saxon gold coin found by a metal detector was purchased by a museum for nearly $500,000.

Here is the link to the story.

Forecast and Conditions.

Not much new here. It's a bit rainy this morning. The wind is out of the west/southwest. That is the same as yesterday, and the seas are still relatively calm. At the beach, you might want to detect the wet sand at low tide.

Calm seas are expected for the next few days, and of course that means no significant changes in beach conditions.

Happy hunting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/18/2011 - Blackbeard's Sword & Lead Sheathing

Bleackbeard's Sword?

Photo by Wendy Welsh of the North Carolina Board of Cultural Resources.

Nobody knows and probably never will know if this is Blackbeard's sword. That is part of the fun and frustration of digging up old stuff. It is almost always a mystery. The best you can do is take all of the clues you can find into account and figure out which scenario best fits the evidence.

Often it is a matter of context. What other things did you find and are they related to the other things you've found in any way? Still there is a lot of conjecture.

After you take into account everything you've learned about what you found, you might have a good idea about where to look next and what you might expect to find. When your predictions are proved time after time, you might conclude that your hypotheses are right. Nonetheless, always be open to new evidence and be ready and willing to change your mind when that seems warranted.

Here is the link to the National Geographic web site where you will find more pictures of the sword.

That is one neat find. And I would guess that it was recovered with the support of generous and hard working tax-payers who seldom get the recognition they deserve.

I just read a report on the "Lead-Sheathed Wreck." I was interested in learning a little more about exactly how lead was used to sheath ships of the colonial period.

I learned a number of things. One thing that I didn't know before is that a type of concrete was used for ballast on ships like the Margarita.

You might find this eight-page archaeological report interesting. Here is the link.

If you find dead birds, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission would like to know. Here is a link to their web site for reporting dead birds.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was checking out one of my old detectors in my back yard and was reminded of a couple things that should be kept in mind.

Among the lovely items I found in my back yard was about twenty nails that were found in a few square feet. I think I might have dropped them not too long ago. Anyhow, after picking up the twenty odd nails, I found another nail at a deeper layer that was definitely from an earlier time period than the ones I found first. I was tempted to quit digging up the more recent nails a couple of times, but kept on digging until I got them all.

Although the older nail was not any great prize, it did illustrate how junk can hide older items. Sometimes you might say that junk actually protects older items.

I was reminded of one place that I used to hunt where there was once an old fort. The area was now a picnic area and was covered with a thick layer of pull tabs that served as sufficient deterrent to most detectorists. As a result, if you had the patience, you could find musket balls and other old stuff hidden under the junk.

Surface trash generally gives loud signals that tend to mask deeper targets. Once you clean out the surface trash you'll start to hear the softer deeper signals. But until you remove the items that give loud signals, you will not hear some of the softer signals from deeper targets. At least that seems to be the true for me.

Another thing I learned is that history repeats. Here is a simple backyard example.

I've been thinking of building a brick barbecue pit out back. When I was using my detector I dug up pieces of an old grill in the same spot that I was going to build mine. I guess the people that originally built this house saw it the same way I did. That is the way it goes.

If there is a spot that looks good for a picnic, swimming, a boat ramp, a camp, or whatever, there is a good chance that somebody else saw it the same way at an earlier time in history. That is something to remember when you are out scouting around for a new spot to detect. And as I said yesterday, it's not a bad thing to do when your regular spots aren't producing.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is out of the west and the seas are calm. The seas will only be about three feet or less for the next few days. That means no significant change in conditions.

The west wind might also give you a chance to get a little further out at low tide.

Happy hunting,

Monday, January 17, 2011

1/17/11 Report - Conquistador Helmet & Garrett AT Pro

Cabasset for Sale on eBay.

This Spanish Conquistador helmet is something you don't see too often.

I got a couple of emails in response to my comments about the feathers, which I don't know if I mentioned, were scattered along the beach for at least a few miles. I suspect further than that, but that is what I saw.

Jason F. said he has been running across dead pelicans that did not appear to have any physical signs of injury. And Aaron D. said he found a half buried pelican when he detected a metal band around it's leg.

Adam called the USCG to report the found tag and received a nice certificate. It is good to report any tagged birds or animals you find.

I once found a tag on a bird's leg bone. The bird was long gone. That bird was originally tagged in Virginia and found near Key Biscayne.

Watch for and report any tagged birds or other animals.

Some detectors are better than others in the wet sand. Some detectors are best in the dry sand, and are especially good for working in shallow water.

Marc M. sent in the following tips for using the newest Garrett all-terrain detector, the Garrett AT Pro.

When you are using the Garrett AT Pro at the beach, it’s very important that you be properly ground balanced. When you move from, say a dry sand environment to wet sand at the water’s edge where you are not ground balanced, you are going to hear some feedback and see some erratic behavior. So what you want to do is ground balance either manually or automatically. It’s recommended to go into automatic mode, push the button and move the coil up and down just above that wet saturated sand. Once you have a nice quiet operation, release the button and you will hear neither chatter nor feedback while resuming your hunt.

Once you move out into the deeper water, away from the edge of the shore, you’ll again want proper ground balance. And in some cases you might want to go a little into the negative (or negative bias) to achieve the stability you need. If you are hearing any chatter you can hit the ground balance button and take it down a few clicks, swing your coil and see if it’s stable and has lost some of the chatter you might have heard. If you are not happy, you can push down the button and take it down a few more clicks. Does this until you have got a nice stable operation and then begin hunting. If you go over a target, it’s still going to ring in loud and clear over any other background sound that might be going on.

In other situations you might decide you want to reduce the sensitivity a notch or two, try that. It depends on the beach you are going to be hunting on. How mineralized the sand is, is it white sand, is it black mineralized sand. Different beaches are going to require different ground balance situations and reductions on sensitivity. You’ll have to find what works best for you and your hunting situation. But you want to get it ground balanced to the conditions as best as you can. And any background chatter you might hear, you should still hear a good target ring out above that loud and clear.

Another main thing to keep in mind is that when you are searching in salt water conditions, keep the coil level, swing it level, don’t let it bang against the ground or swing it up at the end of your swings. Although you may not be able to see it, imagine how you would do it on the land, keeping that coil level just above the edge of the bottom without banging into the sand down below. Just keep a nice smooth level swing with a good ground balance and you can achieve good results on beaches and in the salt water.

For more information on the Garrett AT Pro, visit Hollands Brook Metal Detectors (authorized dealers of Garrett, Fisher, Tesoro and DetectorPro metal detectors.

As you know this blog is quickly growing and becoming more popular. I receive a lot of requests to provide links to commercial sites. I generally don't do that because space is at a premium and I can't provide free advertising for everyone.

This blog is not monetized in any way at this point. The assistance that I most appreciate comes directly from this blog's readers in the form of tips, reports, ideas, information, or questions.

Some people have offered to make a contribution to help keep the blog going. I have not accepted contributions and probably never will, but do appreciate kind offers like that because it tells me that people appreciate what I am doing. And it also tells me that there are people that are not trying to get something for nothing.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that just because I provided a link to one commercial site doesn't mean I will ever do that again, so don't expect me to provide free advertising for everyone. I can't do it.

On the other hand, I will try to mention sources and provide some type of value or recognition to those that provide some valuable input that I use.

Sometimes I do forget or simply lose things that people sent to me. I do try to keep up with the demands of this blog, but don't always do it perfectly. Don't take it personally if you don't get a response from me. Like I said, sometimes I do lose track of things.

I took one of my older detectors out in my back yard this morning just to check it out. My experience in the yard reminded me of two things I'll talk about in the future. One is a trait that will help any detectorist keep going when finds are not coming very fast, and the other is the topic of how history repeats and how you can use that fact to your advantage.

Forecast and Conditions.

Conditions remain poor for finding shipwreck cobs. It doesn't look like there will be much of any changes this week either.

The surf web site shows the seas at three feet or less for the next few days. The wind is out of the south this morning.

When your favorite spots aren't producing, as I would expect to be the case for many of you now, one thing I would recommend is taking a look at new spots.

I believe that most people identify a few favorite spots or beaches and when they are no good, do nothing. Instead, that might be a good opportunity to go scout out some new spots. Maybe you'll find a place that is worth hunting now, or maybe you'll find some new places to hunt when conditions improve.

Don't get stuck in a rut.

Happy hunting,

Friday, January 14, 2011

11/14/11 Report - Feathers, Undigable Targets & Rusted Encrusted Objects

Spike(?)In Wood.

Today I decided to show three rusty old objects. They just seemed interesting to me and provide a real contrast with the half reale I've been talking about.

The first item is what looks to me like the remains of an iron spike with some of the wood still attached.

The second appears to be a iron rod bent, maybe intentionally, in a U-shape. The rod is thick - about an inch in diameter. That is a heavy duty piece of metal, maybe used like a U-bolt. From top to bottom the U is about five inches tall. You can see part of a shell stuck in between the U.

Bent Iron Rod.

And finally,what looks to me like an iron door hinge. The flat rectangular part is 3 inches by 1.5 inches. You can see attached at one side a small cylinder (at the left side of the top edge of the rectangle. If there is another corresponding part to the right of that, as I would expect, it is hidden by the big chunk of encrustation that you see along the top edge.

Iron Hinge(?)

As always, I would like to hear your thoughts on any of these encrusted objects. I enjoy trying to identify mystery objects.

I found some lead roves many years ago along with musket balls and other items that I knew something about, but I didn't figure out what the roves were until just recently.

This morning (Saturday) there were bird feathers all along the beach. They were large feathers, like maybe sea gull and pelican. I did a quick search on the web and noticed that the same thing had been reported at other places along the East Coast of Florida. I wonder what is happening. I wonder if it could be related to those stories about birds falling out of the sky?

I went out this morning primarily to see if I could dig up that target I was unable to recover yesterday. I took some better digging equipment and hoped that the sand level would be down a little.

The sand wasn't down any but I gave it a shot anyhow, but still couldn't get the target. It was about a foot lower than I could get to. I'll check the area from time to time and maybe eventually be able to get it when the conditions are right.

I had no trouble finding the item again. I marked it as 45 paces from a stump and was able to walk right to it.

I do have a portable GPS but didn't have it along when I found the item to mark it's position.

There are other ways to relocate specific locations. If there are trees or buildings, fenceposts or telephone poles, you can usually sight along two pairs of landmarks. I say two pairs because you need one pair to sight a line, and two intersecting lines to mark a spot.

If you try to identify a specific spot using only one landmark, you will not be nearly as accurate. I've tried that a number of times and it just didn't work very well. Therefore I learned to use at least two landmarks and preferably four.

If there aren't any existing landmarks that will do the job, set up stones or stakes. I believe stones tend to stay in place better than stakes. People like to move stakes, it seems.

Precious metals prices have been retreating lately.

Forecast and Conditions.

Yesterday John Brooks was pretty cut. Today already it had filled in some. It was mushy and there were very few signals. I think most of the beaches are building,and in front of many of the beaches there is a new bar separated from the beach by a small dip.

We have an east wind and calm seas. I don't expect any improvement in beach conditions for a few days. I would rate the treasure beach conditions as poor for finding shipwreck cobs.

Still you might be able to find a spot or two that will give you some chance.

Happy hunting,

1/14/11 Report - Philip V Half Real Cob

Bon Steel Park Yesterday.

This photo was submitted by Ken A. who braved the cold yesterday. He said the sand was mushy.

It appears that the north wind that I mentioned yesterday did some work. The following cut was two to three feet high in most places along John Brooks park. There were very few signals of any kind this morning.

Sorry about my finger over the lens.

The sand from the cut at John Brooks was dragged down and formed a bar in front of the beach with a little dip in between. You might be able to see some of that behind my finger.

John Brooks Park This Morning.

The other beaches that I saw this morning didn't have much erosion. In fact two days ago I stopped at a spot that looked promising but I didn't detect it then because I wanted to go somewhere else first and figured I could come back later if the other spot wasn't any good. Well when I returned to that spot today, it had deteriorated since I had last been there. It was no good at all. I did detect one big deep object that I couldn't dig up. That's the way it goes. Things change day by day. When a beach looks good one day, it might not be any good the next and vice versa.

Concerning the unrecovered deep object, I took note of its position and will attempt to recover it some other time if the sand erodes there. If I had gone after it when I was there the other day, I think I probably could have retrieved it.

John Brooks is the only beach that I saw today that had improved, but I'm sure there are others.

Bon Steel doesn't look real good but it is showing a little erosion.

Yesterday I posted a photo of a half reale that was found on a 1715 Fleet beach. I think it is probably a Philip V cob. Here is a picture of a Philip V Mexican Half Reale presentation piece that shows much more of the half reale's design.

1705 Mexican Half Reale Presentation Piece.

The mint mark is not visible on the coin that I showed yesterday, but you can see the compound curve of the S, and the end of the S that is a bit out of shape, the dot below the P, and the fleur-de-lis below and to the right of the P.

I think the design of the presentation piece appears to be very similar to the cob that I showed yesterday except much more of the design is clearly visible.

After comparing, it appears to me that yesterday's cob could well be from the reign of Philip V.

After Charles, Philip V reigned from 1700-1724. If the cob is from a 1715 wreck, as I believe it is, I would guess that the date would be between 1700 and 1715.

I think half reales are interesting. Often much of the design is missing and you have to study a bit before you can identify a cob like that.


As I mentioned there is a little new erosion out there, but there are also places that have deteriorated.

The wind is from the northeast but the seas are expected to decrease for the next few days. As a result, I am not expecting any improvement for a while.

You might be able to find a spot or two that still holds something.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1/11/11 Report - Mystery Item and Shipwreck Sites

Non-metallic Find From the Treasure Coast.

This is one of those items that I am pretty sure is from an old shipwreck. It was found near the water's edge at Corrigan's, but I have not been able to gather any information on the identity of the object.

It is about two inches across, appears to have had four sets of double lobes around the outside with rays pointing outward. I think if you look closely you can see a bit of that.

The most central feature is an eagle or bird. You can see one wing open to the right of center, it's breast to the left of that, near center.

I don't know what it is made of but it is not metallic, and it is not a hard material and is subject to some crumbling upon drying.

Keep your eyes open while metal detecting.

If anyone has any idea about this object I would be glad to hear

TheLa Belle was one of Robert de La Salle's ships that sunk and was found by the Spanish and the lost again for a few hundred years. More recently it was rediscovered in present-day Matagorda Bay where it has been excavated.

I found a number of interesting web sites about the wreck of the La Belle.

This link will take you directly to section on the artifacts of the ship.

And here is more information on the same wreck.

The remains of one shipwreck that shows up on the Oregon coast from time to time recently resurfaced.

Here is the link (Submitted by Will B.)

There are thousands of metal detectors for sale on eBay it would seem. Some expensive, some nothing more than toys, some new and some used.

Different detectors have different strengths and weaknesses. As a result one might be the best choice when looking for one type of item and another better for finding something else.

People often ask what type of detector they should buy, or what is the best detector. There is no single answer to that. You have to consider a wide variety of factors, including what you intend to target, where you are going to hunt, your budget and even your personality. Those are all things that should be considered.

While I won't give any recommendations on what detector you should buy, one thing I will say is that you should not start out with the most expensive, most fancy or most powerful detector. Get something that has a lot of flexibility and learn with that machine and then upgrade in the future if that is something you want to do. The first detector can then become your backup.

I do think that a backup detector is a good idea, and you might even find yourself pulling out the backup when the target and prevailing conditions happen to suit that detector.

Think of detectors as being something like golf clubs. Each one has it's purpose and might be the best choice for a particular set of circumstances.

Don't be afraid to use the less expensive model. It might just be the right one on any given day.

I still occasionally pull out a detector that is over thirty years old and has a four-digit serial number. It works fine, and has it's place in the arsenal.

Forecast and Conditions.
The wind is out of the northwest again. We'll be getting a cold front today. The seas are calm but will be increasing a little. The high tide will not be very high.

Conditions haven't changed significantly for a few days, and I'm not expecting much of any change real soon.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1/9/2011 Report - Spike Found and Miscellaneous Odyssey Marine & Pirate Stuff

Treasure Coast Metal Detector Find.

It looks to me like this is probably a shipwreck spike. Notice the barb on the end. I've seen shipwreck spikes with a similar shape, but slightly different.

I've shown at least one other barbed spike in this blog from a wreck south of the Treasure Coast.

This spike was found by Al C., who submitted the photo. Thanks Al.

You've probably heard of Wikileaks. And no it doesn't refer to Wicans at the urinal.
(Must be near a full-moon out there.)

You might think that Wikileaks has nothing to do with treasure hunting. Well, that's what a reasonable person would think, but it appears that the US government is siding with Spain and against Odyssey Marine. That was revealed by a document on Wikileaks.

I haven't investigated the matter thoroughly, but it sounds to me like a friend of somebody's friend in the present US administration is wanting to keep some valuable paintings, and having no skin in the game, as they say, the administration is willing to trade Odyssey's finds so their buddies can keep the paintings.

Maybe I'm all wrong on that, but that is my guess from the little that I've seen.

Here is the link if you want to look into it.

Talking about Odyssey Marine, their stock price is now $3.20 per share. That is not bad. Really fooled me. If I had it, at that price I would probably be watching for a signal to sell. It has done very well over the past few months.

Don Pedro Gibert (or Gilbert) was a pirate that operated along the Treasure Coast and is said to provide the name for Gilbert's Bar where the House of Refuge is located. I've mentioned him before and provided a link to an old book telling about his trial.

Here is some general information about him if you haven't heard of him before.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is out of the north/northwest. Seas will be about two feet today, increasing to about four feet tomorrow.

That is not enough to do much to most of the beaches, but if it hits just right could create some small cuts or refresh some of the places that have been eroded in the recent past.

Nothing much new here.

Happy hunting,

Friday, January 7, 2011

1/8/2011 Report - Looking Through the Glass & Nails

Copper Nails Found Near Jupiter Inlet Beach Last Week.

Terry T. found these nails down near Jupiter Beach recently. He says he never found anything like this before.

First finds are always fun and memorable. Congratulations Terry!

If you have some first finds, especially recently found, sent me a photo and a bit of the story. For that matter, I'd like to see any finds that you might want to share. I won't be able to post them all, but will post as many as I have time for.

In the past I've posted a lot of pictures of spikes and old nails. I also posted an this illustration of some old nails that might be some help.

You can read those old posts and see other finds by using the search box on this blog. You might enter the keywords "nails" or "spikes"."

It's always good to become familiar with a wide variety of miscellaneous objects. Finds like this can tell you something important about the beach and the area where you are hunting.

Old Nails.

Yesterday I posted a photo of a piece of black glass that I found while eye-balling a beach that I didn't bother detecting because of the beach conditions there. You can scout a lot of area visually when looking for clues and non-metallic items.

As you might know, black glass is not really black, although this particular piece would easily fool you, unless you held it up t a bright light to see it's dark olive green color. It really does look black otherwise.

Anyhow, I thought you might want to learn a little about black glass, which can be a good clue when you find it.

Here is a link to a web site that shows a lot of old bottles, including black glass. This site will give you an idea of the different types of black glass bottles that might have been lost with old shipwrecks.

And here is another web site that tells a lot about glass shipwreck finds. It is a study of the pieces of glass found on the Queen Anne's Revenge (Blackbeard's flagship) wreck site.

I highly commend this group for posting their research reports online.

While on the subject, a bunch of old bottles and other things has been found under a parking lot in downtown San Francisco.

Here is the link.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is out of the West and the ocean is flat. You know what that means - good time to get into the water. It's much easier to work in flat calm water.

I don't have to tell you again to avoid the leased areas, but I just did.

It looks like tomorrow and the following days, the seas will pick up a little again. Until then don't expect any changes in beach conditions.

It will be nice to get some churning again.

That's all for today.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1//6/2011 Report - Maravedi & More Wet Sand Hunting

Maravedi Found Around Corrigan's.

Yesterday I asked about the crown on the Jupiter half reale that I showed. Bill P. said it reminded him of the crown on a Maravedi which he found up around Corrigan's. Here is a photo of that cob.

I noticed that a tripod boat is working off of the FPL nuclear power plant outlet again. It had been at the Port of Fort Pierce for a good while.

The dredging operation has started at Jupiter. Take a look.

I wanted to add to yesterdays discussion. I was talking about the sifting action that takes place in the wet sand areas. The more wave energy that hits the area, the more sifting there will be. Also the longer the force is expended, the more complete the sifting will be. If heavy wave action hits an area of the beach over a long period of time, items will be sifted more completely.

When items are sifted, density is one factor that will be determine where the oobjects will end up. Heavier items will be separated from lighter items. (Density and weight aren't the same. I'm simplifying a bit.)

Even in a very thoroughly sifted area you can sometimes find a mixture of types of items. One way that can happen is that after much of the sifting action has taken place, items can be dropped into the area. Or, different layers of sand and the items associated with that layer, can be deposited over another layer. As a result, you can have various layers on top of each other, each containing a different type of obect.

When you dig an item, notice what type of sand it is found in. You will often notice that items of a particular age are coming for one specific type and layer of sand.

If you have a nice coin hole one day, and if it is not cleaned out, the next day, a thin layer of new sand containing light materials such as aluminum can be deposited over the coin hole. If the new layer is thick enough, it can appear that the coin hole disappeared when in fact it is just a little deeper. If the new layer is not very thick, it can appear that two different types of items are coming from the same layer.

Learn to identify the different layers. They will often be apparent. I've seen quite a few different layers on the beaches lately. And the same layers can be found in the same relative position many miles apart.

Yesterday, I noticed that on more than one beach where the sand was piling up, there was a thin layer of brown course sand over a layer of shells, which was over another dense harder layer of sand. Each layer produced different types of materials.

I said that density is just one factor that determines how objects get distributed in the wet sand areas. Some of the other factors are the shape of the objects and surface of the object.

Some objects adhere to sand more than others. Objects that adhere to sand will often be deposited with less dense items. A corroded zinc penny with sand adhering to it, will often be found higher on the slope than zinc pennies that have not yet corroded.

Watch how objects move in the surf at the bottom of the beach. Some objects will roll easily and quickly move up and down the slope along with the surf. Some will tumble and some will hug the surface and resist being moved.

Well, I think I've rambled long enough on that topic.

I guess I'll mention one more thing. Sinkers often accumulate in the same places where heavy gold items accumulate. However on the Treasure Coast, and many other beaches. There is so much fishing that a lot of the sinkers are recent drops and won't be associated with accumulations of gold. But if you find accumulations of old sinkers, there is a good chance that you will also find a big old class ring in the same hole.

The heaviest class ring I ever found was found in a hole with about six sinkers of about the same weight out in the middle of nowhere.

That's it for today.

Forecast and Conditions.

It's a nice cloudy rainy day. A front went through last night and the wind is now out of the west. The seas are flat.

I like the clouds and rain, but if you still go detecting, watch out for lightning. I am hearing thunder even as I write.

Sometimes a local thunder shower will cause enough wind to cause some cuts when you would not otherwise expect it.

After today, the seas are predicted to increase again up to about three feet, which of course is usually not enough to change conditions significantly.

The thunder is increasing here and the wind is starting to blow pretty good. It actually looks like a real storm out there right now.

We can certainly use the rain.

I would rate the beach hunting conditions as poor right now.

Happy hunting,

Monday, January 3, 2011

1/3/2011 - Wet Sand Hunting

A Couple Additional Unidentified Items Recently Found in a Coin Hole Not Far From a Suspected 17th Century Wreck.

The strip of lead is about two inches long and seems to have a pattern stamped into it. The pattern appears to consist of slightly curved lines running at about 45 degrees from the long edges of the strip in a cross-hatched pattern.

Other than that, I don't have any ideas about it. It could possibly be from any of a wide variety of time periods.

I get the feeling that the shell pendant, or whatever, is modern. I haven't determined the type of metal yet.

Before the end of the year, I started answering a question someone asked about the best way to hunt a beach. I did a couple of posts talking about hunting what I call "recent drops" in the dry sand. I didn't finish the topic though because I had some other things to talk about.

Today I'll talk a little about hunting the wet sand. For today's purposes, the term "wet sand" will include the area from the highest extent of the recent high tides down to the water's edge.

Hunting wet sand is very different from hunting the dry sand. In the dry sand, items will remain pretty much where they are dropped. In the wet sand, they will change location because of the movement of water.

When hunting wet sand watch for any movement of sand. New sand accumulating on a beach is generally not a good sign, but cuts are a good sign. Big cuts are one of the easiest things to spot and can be one of the best places to hunt. Generally speaking, the bigger the cut, the better the hunting, but there are exceptions.

Often the area just below a big cut will produce a lot of coins and other items.
Sometimes that same area will produce nothing, but it is always worth checking. Sometimes someone will clean it out before you get there and sometimes the coins will get moved down into the water or down the beach in one direction or another.

Cuts will fill in. The next day it can fill in, and then the next day after that, it can erode again, replenishing the targets.

Related topics that I've talked about in the past are "vertical compacting," "coin lines" and "coin holes."

There are times, though few, when you can find a beach front with newly pile up sand containing a bunch of coins or other targets.

In the wet sand the coins will be sifted and distributed by weight, or perhaps more correctly, by density as they are acted upon by the water. It is something like the effect of moving water on gold nuggets in a pan. The denser materials are separated from the lighter materials.

The longer the water acts upon the targets over hours or even days, and the greater the force of the water, the more the items of different kinds will be separated.

It is actually not only by density that the items are separated. Other factors such as shape of the object and how much the materials adhere to sand and other factors will also affect the distribution.

In the past, I've also talked about how the shape of coins affects how they are distributed. Having a low profile, they aren't moved by the water as easily as object that are shaped in a way that offers more surface area for the force of the water to act upon. They hug the surface and tend to remain behind as the sand gets washed away.

Anyhow, what you want to hunt in the wet sand is the areas where the heavier objects are most likely to be deposited. Again, there will be a pattern if the water has acted upon the area very forcibly for very long. Heavy objects such as gold or lead will be distributed near the center and lighter objects elsewhere.

There will often be a progression and by identifying that progression, you can sometimes track your way from the lighter materials to the denser materials. That, by the way, is another reason to not use too much discrimination. If you discriminate out materials, you will not see the progression and you will lose information that could guide you.

In the past I have referred to tracking treasure. It is something like an old Indian that tracks down a deer. He benefits by knowing where the herds travel during the different seasons, he knows how to identify the clues, and he knows their tracks.

I think that is enough on that topic for today.

Do you know what 20th Century copper penny sold for $1.7 million dollars in 2010?

Here is the link that will give you the answer.

Forecast and Conditions.

It doesn't look like there will be any significant changes this week. The wind is out of the northwest and the seas are relatively calm

I'd rate the treasure beach detecting conditions as a 1 (poor) and likely to stay that way for a few days.

Happy hunting.