Monday, September 24, 2012

9/24/12 Report - Identifying Finds

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

14K Pin Find
This Kappa Delta Pi pin is easy to identify.  Kappa Delta Pi is an international honor society for educators. 

The pin tells you everything you need to know, but not all finds are so easy to identify.

Here are a few quick and easy things you can do to help identify finds.

The first and most obvious is carefully inspect the object for any markings that might provide a clue. The more you know about different types of markings the better off you will be. Markings can be of many types, from the style of cross or monogram on a cob to a hallmark or karat marking on a modern ring.

You can almost always tell the mint on 1715 cobs from the style of cross. Only the most corroded cobs do not show enough of the cross to tell you the likely mint when you first pick them up. Sometimes the details are not easy to see, but rubbing the cob with a little moisture on the surface of a new found cob is usually enough to bring out sufficient detail, even on corroded cobs. You will find a few that are simply too encrusted or corroded, but most cobs will show enough detail to give you a good bit of information when you first pick them up.

Sometimes finds will have markings that are not apparent until you clean the object or put the object under good lighting or magnification. Clean, light, magnify, and photograph objects and then manipulate the digital images. Some markings might be difficult to find or difficult to read. And many will require some knowledge or research to interpret.

If you send in a photo of an object asking for help with identification, please carefully inspect the object first and mention any relevant markings that you might find. Photos are never as good as personally inspecting an item, and a mark can help identify an object even if you are not aware of the significance of the marking.

Again, you might not see all of the relevant details until you clean, light and carefully inspect an object under magnification.

Determining the type of material can help a lot. One little trick that might seem obvious but that people often forget, is to use a magnet. Iron, steel, and nickel will stick to a magnet. Most other metals will not.

I’ve done posts before on using acid test kits and equipment, so I won’t go over that again, but also remember that you can often get a jeweler or pawn shop to test your object for precious metals.

And don’t forget that your detector might tell you something about the type of metal.

I know some of these tips might sound obvious, but there are times when you might forget to apply what you know. I have.

Become familiar with various web sites and other references for matching the item with other similar items of the same age. If you are most interested in cobs or historic items, read broadly and know where to look to find information on items of the same type.

If you don’t get an answer to your mystery item, write down what you have found, put the item away, and go back to it from time to time over the years. You might be surprised to find that you notice something about the item that you never noticed before. And sometimes you will find that you’ve learned something that now helps you to solve the problem.

And don’t forget, when you send in a photo, mention the material the item is made of and any markings that are not apparent in the photo, and any other relevant information you have. Multiple views are often helpful as well as a comparison object for size.

Unlike the pin above, here is an find that I couldn't identify without the help of an expert - Fred D.  

I'll give you a second to see if you know what it is.

It is about three inches by three inches by 1.5 inches.  If you know what it is, you know a lot more than I did.

It is a piece of an ivory Pleistocene mastodon or mammoth tusk. 

Much thanks to Fred D. for the identification.

Monday the seas will run 3 to 4 feet, with north winds.  I prefer to see the wind from the north, but it generally takes at least 6 or 8 foot seas to greatly improve detecting conditions.  The seas will run at roughly the same level for a few days.

Low tide will be about 10 AM.

Happy hunting,