Sunday, September 30, 2012

9/30/12 Report - Million Dollar Penny, Indian Head & Mystery Item Identified

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Here is a 1903 Indian Head penny that was recently dug at the same mainland site that I've been talking about.  It seems it was almost new when lost.  You can see the detail in the feathers and even read the word Liberty on the head band.


Coins dug on the mainland are often in much better condition than those dug on a beach or in the ocean.  The salt water can cause a lot of corrosion.

How much is a penny worth?  It seems like there are a hundred ways to turn that into a trick question, but there is one penny that sold for a million dollars.

So what is so special about that penny?  It is a 1943 brass penny, one of only a few that got into circulation.

Here is the link to the story on the million dollar penny.

Do you think one of these could have slipped through your fingers? Another good reason to inspect all of your finds.

Thanks to Trez and Robert K., both of  whom gave me a link that led to a good web site showing what the mystery items I posted yesterday are and how they were used.  

You can go to that web site by using the following link.

Here is one paragraph from that web site that tells how the lead seals were used.

Among the more more interesting and unusual pieces of railroad hardware that can show up in the collectors market is the sealing tool or "sealer". This was a device that was used to produce an embossed, lead seal that secured boxes, pouches, and doors of various kinds. Since the seal had to be broken to open the container or door, it was a means of both preventing tampering and demonstrating that none had occurred. Being made of lead, seals were very durable and can still be found along railroad rights of way. There are even reports that some have been recycled as fishing sinkers!

I thought it looked like a seal and surprised myself by being right.  I'm pretty confident now that is what it is and have seen other examples dug by other people, including some bearing exactly the same numbers and letters.   I've seen other dug examples from various railroads, including Canadian and Russian as well as other US railroads, and even a Civil War period example.

Other people commented that the items might be tie markers.  Although I've read a little about tie markers, I haven't seen photos of examples yet.  

I've always like trains and railroads and can see how this would be a nice area to collect.

As far as time period for the boxcar seals, which is what I'll call them for now, I would guess early 1900s.  They have to be after 1895, but I don't know how much later.  I have seen newer boxcar seals, and they are different.  The ones I posted are more like the Civil War ones than they are like the newer ones that I saw.

I would also like to determine the significance of the number "182."  I know that the FEC Railroad had a train numbered 182, but don't know if that is what the number on the seal stands for.  I have also seen a photo of a FEC seal with the number "140" on it.

You can see how I like the research process and figuring out things as much as I like digging things.  It is a process, and you learn a lot in the process.

Another thing I wonder about is the various conditions of the examples.  Three were cut.  Two appear to be blank.  And one was flattened out. 

I wonder if the flattened one was ruined in the process of stamping, flattened when it was removed, or flattened by some kid that found it, or what.  Maybe I'll learn enough in the future to flesh out some more of the history.  That is fun to me.

These boxcar seals were made by punching with a die, similar in a way to how the shipwreck bale seals were made, and also similar to how cobs were produced.  You learn about one thing, and you can often apply something from it to something distantly connected.  That is why I recommend doing a lot of different types of hunting.  You'll learn new things that you can apply elsewhere.

If I didn't know about bale seals, I doubt that I would have guessed that these items were seals.  It always helps to recognize finds in the field.  I've missed my share of clues in the field and thrown away things I wish I would have kept.

If you read yesterday's post early, I need to let you know that the date of the upcoming fundraising cookout will be November 3 instead of November 10 at the Pennwood Motor Lodge in Wabasso.

The wind is primarily from the south/southwest today, and the seas are down around 2 - 3 feet.  That will  remain unchanged for a few days, and the wind will shift from the south to east about Wednesday. 

The beaches are pretty sloppy, some are accumulating sea weed.

Low tide today will be around 3 PM.

Happy hunting,