Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4/30/14 Report - Analyzing Beach Behavior Patterns To Know Where To Detect, Salvage Camp and Gold Signet Ring

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Gold Signet Ring Beach Find.

Here is a strategy that some experienced beach detectorists use.  I know that it is effective even though I don't use it much myself.   

Some experienced detectorists go to a very busy beach, find a high spot that gives a good view of the entire beach, and just sit with their detector prominently displayed, and survey the beach.

If you do that you might be surprised how often you will see people frantically on their hands and knees sifting through the sand with their fingers trying to find a newly lost item.

There will also be times when people see you with your detector and come up to you and ask you to search for something they just lost.

There are two primary goals to this strategy.  The first is to survey the beach and what happens there, and the second is to be visible and available.

I knew one fellow that used to do this at Carlin Park in Jupiter back in the eighties.  If someone asked him to hunt something for them, he would charge twenty dollars. 

I'm not saying you should charge for your services, but some people do.  You might find that it is worth doing even if you don't charge.  You will still benefit from learning more about the beach and where people tend to lose things, and also have the satisfaction of finding lost items.

If you don't charge, don't expect a reward.  People very often don't give a reward.  I don't understand it, but that is the way it is, so don't expect it.  The satisfaction can be enough, plus you will learn more about where to spend your time detecting.

When you are hunting a specific item you will sometimes finding something else.  Be prepared for that.  Get a detailed description of the lost item that you are hunting.

Some people will try to claim things you find when the item does not belong to them.  As I said, be prepared. 

Clear the area.  Draw boundaries in the sand.  Explain that you need to be able to systematically detect a grid.

When you clear an area, it gives you room to swing your coil and detect a proper grid, and it also allows you to get a good look at the item before you show it.

Recovery skills are always important.  You will benefit by being able to quickly scoop and view an item before others get a chance to get a look at it.

While watching people at the beach, you'll be able to quickly identify the quantity and quality of potential finds from the beach in general as well as different parts of the beach.

Some beaches are visited by glitzy people who wear extremely valuable jewelry, and some are visited by people who wear virtually no jewelry to the beach, and some wear only junk jewelry or none.  You'll be able to observe that, but you'll also see where different types of people sit and play.

Sedentary people do not lose much.  The people that will be losing the most are those that wear the most but also are the most active and careless. 

Notice where people sit, where people stop and readjust their belongings, and most especially, where they play.  Notice where people play football, volleyball, dive, stand on their hands, and turn cartwheels.  The play zones will normally be just outside of the crowded sitting areas.

Sedentary people will occasionally lose things, and that can be quality stuff, but they won't lose things as often as the wild and crazy crowd.

While I don't go to the beach and sit, I have been on the beach enough to make the observations, and being an analytic sort of person, I do know the patterns.

Did you ever notice how many people who come to the beach with a ton of stuff for the day, stop about five yard on the beach side of the walkover, put down some of their stuff, survey the beach looking for a spot to camp out, and readjust their load before moving on.  I call that the stop spot.  That is just one example.

Since I don't like to go to the beach when the crowds are there, this isn't a favorite strategy of mine.  I don't like to sit either.   When I observe, it is while I'm busy doing something else. 

I do know this strategy can be worthwhile though.  You will occasionally see people in the act of trying to find things.  You will have people come and ask you to search for something they lost.  And you will learn more about the beach and where different kinds of things are most likely to be lost.

Pay attention to where different kinds of people congregate and what they do.   Make out a mental map.  

You'll discover that once you get the hang of it, that you can analyze where people will go and what they'll do on almost any beach even if you visit when the people are not there.  Every beach will have a stop spots, for example.  There will also be the locations where the wealthier but more sedentary people sit.  There will be the places where the younger and more active crowd frolic, etc. etc.

Also note the time of day when people come and go. 

Photos and postcards can also help with your analysis, even if you have never been to a particular beach before.

One person recently wrote asking me about the salvage camp near Turtle Trail.  I presume they were asking about the Winter Beach salvage camp site.  There is a book on the Winter Beach salvage camp written by Douglas Armstrong that you can find on Amazon,com.  There is a lot of good detail in the book, including site maps, finds, etc. 

Yesterday I mentioned genealogical research again.  I keep mentioning it because I keep learning so much from it.

I discovered a source of old land use maps that are really great.  I'll get into that tomorrow.

On the Treasure Coast we still are supposed to have about a two foot surf.  Unfortunately we still have the southeast winds and swells.

Tomorrow the surf is supposed to increase some.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4/29/14 Report - Gold Religious Medallion, Early Gulf Coast Settlement, and Genealogical Research

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Gold Religious Medallion Find

This medallion is larger than most and is intricate.  You can see the remains of a black encrustation that has been partly removed. 

When I first posted yesterday's post there were a lot of problems with it.  Fortunately I went back later and fixed some of the problems.

One big thing was that I originally left out of the post was a link to a great article on the earliest European Gulf Coast settlement.  I put it in later, but in case you missed it, here it is.

Below is an excerpt from that article.

Fig. 16: During the 1940s several young boys were roaming along the shoreline
of a peninsula jutting into Pensacola Bay . They had learned how to find
artifacts. The railroad crews would come down the line on occasion and dig
out the banks to protect the tracks. When it rained the kids would scour the
exposed banks for artifacts. On one day, they found a coin which dated to the
time of the Tristan de Luna colony. One the kids, Harry Bonifay, found it.
The coin and the area are figured in the next few pages. Sixty something
years later marine archeologists found two shipwrecks of the period just
offshore from the same bayshore.

It says the kids checked newly disturbed soil.  I've recommended checking any disturbed soil many times in this blog.  

The kids also knew to check after rain.  That is another strategy that I've mentioned before.  Those are two good reminders.

Curren, as contrasted with the quotes I gave a couple of days ago from the shipwreck articles reveals a much more constructive style and approach.  He gives even children recognition for their finds and treats the public as a part of the process.  That is exactly the approach that will promote and advance the field of study.

Below is another good tip found in the same article

Fig. 18: ...  The coin was found in a dredge spoil pile near the mouth of Bayou


Most often you'll find junk, such as mangled aluminum cans in dredged material, however there are times when more interesting things are found in dredged material.  There have been times when interesting old materials have been found in dredged material in Southeast Florida and the Treasure Coast. 

Thanks to Caleb Curren, author of and that particular article. 

I would encourage you once again to do some genealogical research.  I've learned a lot of history through research into my own ancestors.   One line goes back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in the 1640s.  Of course that was after the Mayflower.  One thing I found particularly interesting is that John Greenleaf Whittier actually wrote a ballad about one of my ancestors.  She was said to be the first white woman sold into slavery in America.  Her crime was not exactly, but basically being too friendly to the Quakers.  The sea captains refused to take to Virginia or Barbados to be sold though.  It might have had something to do with the fact that her father was a boat carpenter.  She did spend time in leg stocks.  Anyhow, the ballad is Cassandra, which is actually her mother's name.

Along another ancestral line was a Ranger in the Revolutionary War that fought Indians in the Ohio Valley.  He was captured, escaped, swam the river, etc. etc.  It was a violet time on both sides, and both sides actually collected scalps.  With all the political correctness these days, I was surprised to learn how violent and brutal it actually was. 

It can be really interesting when you put enough time into the research to locate ancestors which were written about in detail like that. 

Those are only two of the things that I found most interesting.  I was lucky to be able to locate so much material.  I'm sure you can find some interesting things about your ancestry too.  The most interesting thing would be to go to some of those areas and do a detector search where your ancestors lived.  It really makes the history come alive.

On the Treasure Coast the wind picked up around noon and white caps formed on the river. 

We are still having high high tides, but the surf is still small.

A 3 - 5 foot surf is predicted for Wednesday.  That is a little increase.

Happy hunting,

Monday, April 28, 2014

4/28/14 Report - Grading Cobs, Two Sources of Beach Cobs, Earliest Settlement on the Gulf Coast

Written by the Treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Thin Piece of Unidentifiable
Silver Found Years Ago
On a Treasure Coast Shipwreck Beach
You probably noticed that I started a new poll on the blog.  The poll will tell us what people are doing or not doing these days.

To the left is a photo of what might be called a razor.  It is silver and is the first shipwreck silver I found on a Treasure Coast shipwreck beach back probably around thirty years ago. 

I wasn't living on the Treasure Coast and drove a couple hours to give it a shot.  I had made to trips to the Treasure Coast a few times before with no luck.

I could tell you within a very few yards exactly where it was dug even after all these years.  I dug it up and my wife took it out of the scoop and started to through it away.  I told her to hold onto it.

I took it home and not knowing what it was yet, tested it with acid.  It turned out to be silver.  For a while I thought it might be a thin severely worn cob.  Today I do not think it is.  Since I found that first silver piece, I found other silver pieces that are definitely not cobs in the same area as well as cobs, all within a few yards of the same spot.

After seeing many more pieces of silver from the same area, both cobs and not, I feel fairly confident  that it is not a worn cob but a piece of some other silver item.

The reason I'm showing it today is as an example.

Cobs are typically graded on a five point scale.  Grade One cobs are almost like new.  Both sides are in good to excellent condition with no pitting or corrosion.  The details are well defined and the features of the design are as struck.

Remember that with cobs, there might be some areas where details are not present because they weren't struck on the original planchete and there may be flat or poorly defined areas as a result of the original strike rather than from wear or corrosion.

Grade Two cobs clearly show most of the details of the original strike and the design features are easily seen but due to exposure there is obvious wear and deterioration of the surface.  Despite the wear the cob is still in good condition.

Grade Three cobs show very apparent wear but still have easily identified features and fairly good definition.  One side might be much better than the other.  You might describe those as being in fair condition.

The following photo is not the best, but it shows what might be a grade three cob (on the left).  It shows the assayer mark and a good monogram.  The other side is also good.
Grade Four cobs are very worn with faint markings.  The design features are not clear, but you can still tell that they are Spanish Colonial cobs.

Two Cobs.
On the left maybe a grade three,
and on the right I would say a grade five.
Grade Five coins are poor and barely identifiable as Spanish Colonial cobs.  Additional information such as context may be used to support the definition.  For example, if the suspected cob was found in a pile of other more identifiable coins, that might be used to support the definition.

Both of those shown in the second photo are half reales.  The one on the right shows a small section of the monogram (bottom center of cob) on the shown side and one arm of the cross on the other side.  I would call it grade five.

A Fragment is a piece of silver found with other cobs with few if any other identifiable features.  It will probably be very much under weight.

That brings me to the reason I posted the first picture.  It could be considered no better than a fragment even if it was found in a pile of cobs, and that wasn't the case.  It was not found with any other items at the time of the find even though the same area produced both cobs and other silver items over the years. 

Other things that can contribute to the value of a cob besides condition are rarity, visible date, assayer and mint mark. 

See Sedwick's article on how to determine the value of a cob or treasure coin.  I'll post a link to that when I run across it or some other similar article.

I'm convinced that cobs that have been found on a beach are different on average from those found by salvage crews on a wreck site.  I believe that beach cobs tend to be of smaller denominations on average, and also tend to be in poorer condition.  I've made that argument and provided evidence in the past.  Beach cobs are also often under weight by as much as one third or more.

There are two ways that cobs end up on a beach.  Either they are washed up onto the beach or are washed out of the dunes (My dual source theory).  My idea is that the larger denominations and those in better condition, more often come from the dunes rather than the water.

Those that wash up on the beach may have spent considerable time in the zone of high turbulence right in front of the beach where the waves break and the sand churns.  Such cobs can be washed up onto the beach and back into the water several times.  They are tumbled, covered and exposed over and over.   They can spend a lot of time protected by layers of sand, and then be uncovered and covered again multiple times.  I believe that is how they lose so much weight.

Here is a very good article on what was possibly the earliest European settlement on the Gulf Coast.

It has good maps and pictures of sites and artifacts.

On the Treasure Coast we still are having fairly high high tides.  The surf is small though.

The wind is from the South/Southwest.  Don't expect much improvement in beach detecting conditions real soon.

Happy hunting,


Sunday, April 27, 2014

4/27/14 Report - Shipwrecks in Gaveston Bay Being Explored, Gold Ring Found on Treasure Coast & More

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Shipwreck Site in Galveston Bay
Source video mentioned below. 

Yesterday I talked about speedy recovery of targets in dry sand.  One thing that I didn't emphasize enough is the necessity of a strong heavy scoop with a sturdy handle.  The scoop should be heavy enough to provide momentum and speed when swung, otherwise the technique will be more tiring.

If you looked at the pfd file presenting a  summary of laws related to underwater cultural heritage that I posed a couple of days ago, you could not have missed the heavy presence of BOEM and NOAA.  It looks to me like those two groups could be taking over the field of deep water shipwreck salvage and archaeology.  Their names are showing up more and more when shipwrecks are discovered.  I really wonder if there will be anything that isn't controlled and operated by the government in the future.  Will there be any room left or any reason left for "private" enterprise?  Will anything and everything "private" be demonized as evil, greedy, or selfish?  It is beginning to look that way to me.

Here are two links to web sites presenting discoveries of historic shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico.

Take a look at the video as well as the text.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from this one.

We were a little bit hesitant at first,” says Irion of opening the video feed to the public. For example, if valuable artifacts are found on a wreck site, they might attract looters or salvagers to the area. Or, if an archaeologist makes a premature assessment, a large audience may be there to witness the mistake. One of the artifacts archaeologists were most excited about, for example, was a piece of cloth identified as “the wool jacket.” It tuned out to be a modern T-shirt that snagged on the wreck.

Archaeology is a challenging pursuit under the best circumstances, and even more so when conducted through thousands of feet of water and via a sophisticated, but sometimes very clumsy, ROV. “This is like parallel parking a truck underwater,” commented one of the engineers controlling Herc. “While you’re not sober,” chimed in another. Something as simple as closing the latch on a box of artifacts could take an hour. “Archaeology is sometimes a destructive process,” Irion adds. Previously untouched sites are dismantled in the course of studying them, as artifacts are removed, moved, and occasionally broken. “Sometimes things happen that you don’t want everybody to see.”

As I've said before there is the too prevalent view that the citizen is good for providing tax dollars to fund projects but beyond being a milk cow is not trusted, even when the project is a mile under water.  Where did the concept of public servant go?

Public funded projects should be open to public view and should not be hidden from the public even if someone wants to avoid the embarrassment of a mistake.  An interested and involved public will provide assistance and insure quality.  Simply put, cultural heritage belongs to the public.

Did you also notice the discovery of these wrecks was credited to the government organizations rather than the companies that actually located and reported them?

Another 14K Class Ring
Dug on the Treasure Coast
If you spend much time detecting you'll find a good number of class rings.  Most of the men's class rings are relatively large and therefore easy enough to find.

If you are only finding big gold rings and few ladies or small rings, you are probably using too much discrimination.

One of the larger gold class rings that I ever found was in a small area out of which I dug three or four one ounce sinkers before hitting the ring.  I could have easily quit after digging the first sinkers.

Not only are class rings usually fairly large, but they also often contain all the information you need to find the owner and return the ring.  It shouldn't take too much research.

This was a busy weekend for those of you who attended the meeting at FIT and the Treasure Hunter's Cookout.

Well, it really is starting to seem like summer.  Not only do we have wind from the South and sandy beaches, but now the temperature is climbing.

The high tides are nice and high today, but probably won't do much good because the sea is nearly flat.  I'm not expecting much change any time soon.

Get used to the poor beach detecting conditions.

This is the general type of fish that produced the skeleton that I showed the other day.

Happy hunting,


Saturday, April 26, 2014

4/25/14 Report - Beach Zones and Dry Sand, Time-Saving Recovery Skills, & St. Jude Medallion

Written by the treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Dug Gold St. Jude Thaddeus Medallion

Don't forget the cookout today.  Check my previous post for details.

This 14K St. Jude medallion was found in the dry sand on a beach that had been recently detected.  It was left behind by a detectorist who picked up the clad coins and most of the junk from the area.

There are three general zones that most people detect at the beach.  Those zones can be divided into smaller zones, and there are other zones that are not as often detected.  Today I'll talk a little about the dry beach.

The three most general zones for beach metal detecting are the dry beach, the area between the high tide line and water line, and shallow water.   Each is different.   The wet sand and shallow water  are more similar to each other than they are to the dry sand area.  

The water action moves the sand a lot more in the shallow water and the wet sand areas.  That means your strategy should be different for the wet sand and dry sand areas.

On the dry sand, even the heaviest items (or more correctly, the more dense items) sink slowly and you have a much greater mixture of types of items near the surface.  In the wet sand and shallow water, items get separated and classified more quickly according to density. 

Pull tabs as well as gold rings can all be found together in the top inch or two in the dry sand.  Dense items will remain shallow for a longer time in this zone unless there is something else that disturbs the layers of sand - for example a beach cleaning machine or beach replenishment project.  But unless something like that is going on, things will remain fairly close to where they were lost for a good amount of time. 

One big factor in the dry sand is the number of other detectorists and their habits.   A busy beach can get pretty well cleaned up by multiple detectorists on a daily basis.  Many of them will detect the dry sand.  There are always a few things left though.  Some good targets will be protected by things such as trash or beach chairs.

One thing that you should get to know on a heavily hunted beach is the habits of the competition. Every detectorist has tendencies or habits, and those can be identified and exploited.

You can usually tell in a short time where others have detected and something about how they detected.

Observe where there is a disproportion of different items, no matter if it is trash or treasure.   Sometimes you will see a disproportionate number of nickels, for example, or zinc pennies, or pop bottle caps, or only deep targets.  

Observe what type of trash others leave, where they hunt and what they miss.  If they leave the deeper targets, that is fine.  Once the surface is cleaned up, you can focus on the small signals.  That is just one example of how you can adjust your strategy. 

If you want to hunt a heavily hunted beach, and there are certainly good alternatives to that, there will probably be a good day of the week and a better time of day. 

I know the foot prints and habits of many of the regulars at the beaches that I detect on a regular basis.

I told you just a couple of days ago about how I recently stopped at a heavily hunted beach and started detecting right in front of the beach walkover, which is where many people pass through and also where most detectorists would start detecting.  In front of that walkover, it was clean except for four pop bottle caps.   I could tell that someone had recently detected the area.  The clad and most trash had been removed, but a gold medallion was found hiding several inches directly under one of the bottle caps.

I could quickly tell that someone had recently detected that area and cleaned up most things.  Moving down the beach a short distance, I could tell from the remaining clad that that area had not been so recently detected.  

It shouldn't take long to identify areas that have and have not been recently detected and how well.

One reason that I don't use much discrimination, is because I want to know what items are on the beach and how they are distributed.  I want to know things such as where others had detected and how they detected.  I want to know something about how items are layered, and what the deeper layers contain.   Then I adjust my hunting strategy.

I don't worry much about competition.  When I don't decide to detect more overlooked or inaccessible areas, I'll simply analyze what has gone on before I got there and adjust my strategy.

I can guarantee that nobody will cover the entire beach and clean out everything.  When you really know your competition, they can be your best friend as you learn to exploit their tendencies. 

While I'm on the topic of dry sand, one way you can save a lot of time and still clean up a beach is by selecting the right scoop for the job and perfecting your speed recovery technique.

It is easy to quickly remove either trash or treasure from dry sand.  For the typical shallow target, it shouldn't take more than about four seconds. 

If you consider the time it takes to get a good reliable readout on a graphic display and determine to dig or not, you could remove the typical shallow dry sand target nearly as quickly.

I'll try to make a video on that someday. 

In dry sand sifting is normally quick.  Select a quick-sifting scoop with a handle long enough so that you can swing it with one hand skimming the top inch or two of sand in one motion.  One quick jerk of the scoop should then reveal the target. 

Of course accurate pinpointing of the location and depth of the item is necessary.  That is a skill that most people have not sufficiently developed.  

If you use your foot like most people and push the scoop in farther than necessary to dig shallow targets you will waste a lot of  time digging and sifting.  One swing and jerk should do the job on surface items in dry sand. 

If you dig junk to be removed, you don't even have to take the time to take it out of your scoop after each recovery.  Just leave it cradled in the bottom of your scoop and accumulate several items until you pass a trash can and dump them all at once or empty them into your trash bag.

I've seen people take more time getting an accurate read out and deciding if they want to dig or not when they could have more quickly removed the item if they had good pinpointing and recovery skills

Of course, if you are in wet sand you can't always get such a quick sift and recovery.  But in wet sand I wouldn't normally be wasting much time in areas where there is a lot of trash either.  

And don't forget that if you leave an item, there is a chance you'll go over it a again, and maybe even several times in the future.   Groundhog day all over again!

Mike M. and Tim M. said my fish skeleton was a cow fish or box fish.  They are simple little creatures.   Thanks for the help guys!

Never wash ivory.  Collectors tend to like it original.

I once showed an ivory and silver Spanish Colonial higa.

On the Treasure Coast today the high tide will be unusually high, however the surf is very small.  It is still very sandy.

Remember that my beach detecting conditions rating scale is for old objects.   Conditions are poor for finding old objects on the beach now.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

4/24/14 Report - Treasure Hunter's Cookout Sat., New Relic Finds, Puffed Up Sandy Beaches, and More

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Don't forget the treasure hunter's cookout, which will be this Saturday the 26th.

Kellyco will be there.  There are  donations from RTG Scoops, First Texas and Garrett (not metal detectors) that will be raffled off along with miscellaneous treasure and treasure related items.

There will be live music.(Caribbean style).

Bring your own beer and a covered dish to share potluck style.   There will be bbq ribs, pulled pork, burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings and sodas to drink.

Anyone can set up a table and buy/sell/swap treasure and treasure hunting related items.

Chuck said, Some of the regulars will be attending the robert marx lecture on the 25th and the meeting to discuss the new legal issues in regards to wreck salvage, I'm sure this will be discussed heavily at the cookout and maybe we will finally get organized and become proactive rather than reactive!!!!

If you don't know what that is about, go back and read the previous post in this blog.

Relic detector finds and photo by William M.

William M. is still hot on that relic trail.  Here are the latest finds.  His favorites from this group include a Sterling silver Bailey Banks and Biddle spoon and a Father Johns bottle.

Keep it up William.  Thanks for sharing.

Notice the other neat little finds in there.

Yesterday I posted a mystery photo for you to figure out and asked if you could tell what it is.

Below is a photo showing the entire item.

Fish Exo-skeleton.
I found this fish exo-skeleton.  It is very delicate and composed of little plates.

It is about to fall apart.  Just thought it was neat.

I don't know the name of the type of fish.  I should look it up.  Maybe someone will tell me.

Just one of the things I found while not detecting.

Below is another miscellaneous visual find from the same walk.

Copper Bow Running Light.

Yesterday morning I took a quick look at a couple of beaches.  I didn't take my detector out of the car at either of them.

The beach looked like an August beach.  I hope that is not an indication of what the rest of the summer is going to be like.

The treasure beaches haven't been much good since November, and that is almost half a year ago.  Can you believe it?

The one good thing about beach conditions now is that the surf is smooth.  Just some very small swells slowly running in.  Perfect for very easy water hunting.

There was a lot of sand on the beach though.  Take a look at the photo below.  That is not what you want to see from a treasure beach.  If you had tons of tourists running around on it, you could pick up some modern stuff.  I don't find that type of hunting nearly as interesting any more, although I do it when treasure beach conditions are poor.

I didn't bother to take my detector out of the car at the wreck beaches that I looked since the beach conditions were so poor, but I felt like swinging my detector a little, I stopped at one of the tourist beaches and hunted the dry beach.  I hit a piece of gold in just a few minutes.  Modern, of course,   It was one of those cases when it was a good thing that I was not discriminating.  The gold was about seven inches right under a bottle cap.  Seemed like someone had already detected there and picked up everything but the bottle caps. 

That is all for today.  Take a look at the overview of laws concerning underwater cultural materials in my previous post and enjoy the cookout this Saturday.  Beautiful weather for a cookout.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/23/14 Report - Important Meeting, Changing Laws, A Couple Wreck Sites, and Discrimination

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Copper Sheathing After Wood Wreck Has Disappeared.
Source: Cover of the NOAA study referenced below.
I need to address something important today, and there are only a couple of days remaining to do it.

I need to alert you to an important meeting this Friday.   Below is a flyer with details that I received by email from Wes B. 

Note the time and place given in the last paragraph: Friday April 25 at 5 PM at FIT in Melborne.

If you want to know what could happen with wreck salvage under Federal law you might want to attend.

As background, here is a link to an overview study funded by NOAA entitled Underwater Cultural Heritage Law Study, 2014-005.

You might want to browse this for multiple reasons.   First, it gives a good overview of the relevant law, explaining, for example, the Black Swan case that resulted in Odyssey Marine returning salvaged materials from the Mercedes to Spain.  You might be surprised by how much is covered by this body of law and how far reaching it can be.

If you don't know why global warming is so important to some in politics, take a careful look at this study.  In this study you will see links to references explaining how oil companies and other private energy related companies first discovered three 19th Century shipwrecks and then funded government archaeological investigations of those shipwrecks (See photo below). Issues such as pollution and global warming provide much regulatory and financial leverage for government activities and touch almost everything you do from flushing your toilet to the batteries you use to power your detector.

Maybe you thought NOAA was all about weather.

You might not feel like reading the entire study, but at least browse through it.

You might want to take a look at the section on Common Law of Finds.  The concept of "abandonment" seems to be overlooked, as I would define it.  When is something "abandoned," and when does a ship cease to exist?   It would seem to me that a pile of unidentifiable or barely identifiable wreckage is no longer a ship.   Definitions are important.  They can be used and abused.

The Ewing Bank Wreck Photomosaic by Dan Warren, C&C Technologies.

Here is something that isn't quite as heavy.  See if you can guess what the following is?  It is something I picked up on a walk the other day.  I'll give you the answer tomorrow.  There is one pretty obvious answer, but that isn't it.

Discrimination or discrimination?

When metal detecting, there is more than one way to discriminate.  You can let the detector do it for you by using a discrimination knob to completely eliminate a complete range of less desirable signals, or use a fancier form of discrimination, such as notch discrimination, or use sophisticated  graphic digital output. 

Another way to discriminate is to use all-metals or pin-point mode and let your brain do the processing.  If you learn to hear what your detector is telling you, you don't need to discriminate out signals altogether or read a graphic display.  You can learn to interpret approximate size, general shape, depth, and metallic composition by listening to a simple auditory signal.  That takes a little time and training, but can be just as or even more effective.   Of course, some detectors provide more information in the auditory signal than others, but you don't need anything very fancy to get a lot of information from the auditory signal.   What it takes is time and practice.

I will continue with this some other time.

Treasure Coast beach detecting conditions remain poor.  The surf on Wednesday will be only about three feet and then decrease more for a couple of days.  


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

4/22/14 Report - Denominations Of Silver Treasure Cobs Found On Treasure Coast Beaches And Why

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Going back to the eighties it has been my observation that more low denomination cobs are found on the Treasure Coast wreck beaches than high denomination cobs.  There are eight and four reales found on the beach, but not as many as the lower denomination cobs. 

Of the cobs found on the Atocha and Margarita, which can't be compared to 1715 Fleet wrecks for more than one reason, 8 reales are most numerous (63%), followed by 4 reales (22%).  2 reales were rare (15%), while 1 reales were scarce (.001 %).  1/2 reales recovered from those two wrecks are almost non-existent.  It appears that cobs of the larger denominations were chosen for bulk transport of the Crown's silver.  That makes sense.

That information came from the Odyssey Marine Paper (30), 2013.

By the way, there were no gold coins listed on the Margarita or Atocha manifests, although at least 77 were found on the Margarita site and 128 on the Atocha site.   Those were undoubtedly the personal property of individuals.  

Alan Craig in Spanish Colonial Silver Coins in the Florida Collection states, Since the Florida Collection is based on samples of bulk specie being shipped back to Spain, it is deficient in these small denominations that were usually retained in the New World to support daily commerce.  Those that were  placed on board treasure galleons often did not survive well in the corrosive marine environments...   HE goes on to say, Eights dominated colonial mint production...

OK.  So large denomination reales were a good choice for the bulk transfer of silver, and small denomination cobs were needed in the New World for daily commerce.  That all seems to support the idea that more large denomination coins would be found on the treasure ships.

I don't, however, buy the idea that smaller denominations disappeared in great numbers due to corrosion.  They do indeed corrode, but the numbers that have been found on the beaches do not seem to me to agree with that idea.  They might be corroded but you can usually tell pretty much what they are.

Commenting on the small number of small denomination cobs in the Florida Collection, Craig says, The contrast between large denominations recovered from salvaged shipwrecks of the 1715 Plate Fleet is easily seen beginning with the year 1710.

Taking 1714 as a prime year for 1715 Fleet cobs, the Florida Collection, as of the time Craig's 2000 book was written, contained 288 eight-reales, 81 four-reales, 2 two-reales. 2 one-reales, and 3 half-reales.

That is very different from what I have observed of those that were found on the Treasure Coast beaches.  I've seen a lot more half reales, followed by a good number of one and two-reales, with very few four and eight reales that were found on the beaches.  That is almost the opposite of the sample in the Florida Collection.

I did a poll in this blog once and found that the results supported the idea that more small denomination cobs were found on Treasure Coast beaches.

Some beaches, such as Bonsteel, to name one, is known for the small cobs that have been found there.  Not only are they small denomination cobs, but they are also heavily worn.

Bonsteel, not being associated with a nearby wreck, might be an exception.  From what I've seen though, some other beaches have produced a big disproportion of small denomination cobs.  That could be more true in the last ten years than it was in earlier years when I believe more detectorists were missing the smaller denomination cobs on the beaches.

I know that there are places and times when eight reales and four reale cobs have been found on Treasure Coast wreck beaches.  I'm just talking about overall relative numbers.

In 1713 the Mexico mint produced about four times the number of eight reales as half-reales.  I don't have the numbers for 1714.   In the years leading up to the 1715 Fleet, there were times when nearly ten times more eight reales were produced than half-reales. 

All things considered, I believe that higher numbers of small denomination cobs have been found on the Treasure Coast beaches than were salvaged from the water.   I know I haven't provided an iron-clad closed case.   Maybe some day I'll take the time to get this all put together better.

Here are some possible reasons why smaller denomination cobs have been found so disproportionately on the beaches even though it would seem from what I've read that there should be many more large denomination cobs on the treasure ships.

1.  Smaller cobs are washed up onto the beach more easily and frequently than larger cobs which tend to remain out in deeper water.
2.  Smaller denomination cobs might for some reason be salvaged first by the Spanish salvors.  For example, maybe they were personal property and so the owners traveling with them made sure to get them out.
3.  Maybe they weren't carried in the depths of the cargo areas.
4.  Maybe they were used for commerce during salvage operations.
5.  Once salvaged, maybe they were more easily lost or left behind in the surf and sand of the beach.
6.  Maybe they were not cared for quite as carefully.

I'd like to hear what you think.   Let me know if you have any additional reasons or think any of these ideas are not likely true.

On the Treasure Coast today we have the wind coming out of the North/Northwest.  Doesn't seem like much wind at all.  The surf is supposed to be up to about five feet today and declining for a week or so.

On the basis of what I saw yesterday, I'm not expecting much good to happen.

Happy hunting,

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21/14 Report - Beach Conditions This Afternoon, Two Found Rings, Identifying a Spanish Shipwreck and Spanish Colonial Shards

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

One Treasure Coast Beach Just After High Tide.
The surf increased some today and the wind was coming out of the North.  As a result I wanted to get out and take a look at what was going on the beach before I finished this post. 

I did take a look just after high tide this afternoon, and despite the wind direction and increase in surf, the swells were not coming in at much of an angle, and most importantly, it was not removing any sand.  In fact, as you can see from the photos, there was a lot of seaweed on the beach - usually a bad sign.

I took a look at four different beaches and they all looked pretty much alike.  There might be some slight erosion out there somewhere, but I didn't find it this afternoon.

Everything I saw looked poor.   Not even any shell piles to look through.

Here is a quick video showing the beach and wave action.  It was just after high tide.

Most of what follows was posted earlier today before I got out to the beach.

The local Channel 5 News gave a news story about a ring that was lost at the beach and then found and returned two years after it was lost.  Instead of this ring being found and returned by a detectorist, this ring was eye-balled by a lady at the beach.  I think the unusual engraving inside the band is one thing that helped this ring get returned after it was posted on facebook.

Here is the link.

An Easter miracle story of a wedding band lost and found one year later.


It can be difficult to find the identity of a shipwreck, especially a wreck that is hundreds of years old.  We know the names of the Margarita and Atocha.  Those are two very famous wrecks from the 1622 Tierra Firma Fleet, but there were other smaller ships in that fleet that were not as valuable and not carrying the Crown's property and so weren't as well documented.   It could be especially confusing because a ship was often referred to by different names or referred to by the name of the owner or captain.   Multiple vessels also carried the same name.   All of that can make it very confusing and can make it very difficult to identify a particular wreck.

Below is a link to an article found on the Odyssey Marine web site which shows how they attempted to identify the wreck of a small navio from the Tierra Firme fleet that was lost off the Florida Keys on the 5th of September in 1622.  This paper has a lot of good reading for anyone interested in the shipwrecks of the Keys.  Many shipwrecks are discussed.   Here is one little sample from the paper.

The Rosario was subsequently located by a salvage operation on 24 September 1622 “grounded on one of the keys”.  All the crew and passengers were saved and the wooden structure above the waterline burned to expose the treasure within the hull, resulting in the recovery of all the silver and 20 pieces of artillery (AGI Santo Domingo 132; Lyon, 1989). Following the salvage of equipment valued at more than 6,000 or 7,000 ducats, another report confirmed that Vargas “began the operation of salvaging the silver, first setting fire to the galleon, to burn it down to water-level.  In this way he recovered all the treasure, artillery, and copper which she carried and brought it all back... 

Here is the link.

Not long ago we had some good samples of beach shards.   Here is a good article on Spanish colonial shipwreck pottery and ceramics.

The surf on the Treasure Coast should be a touch higher this evening and still coming out of the North.  At least that is what the surfing web sites are predicting.

I've been doing some study on some other stuff that I might have ready for you tomorrow or some other day.

That's all for today.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, April 19, 2014

4/19/14 Report - Gold Crucifix Beach Find, Muntz Metal Find, and Clarification On 1715 Fleet Salvage Contracts

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Here is an especially appropriate Good Friday find. When it comes to Easter I tend to think more of the empty tomb than a crucifix.

Do you know what the INRI means?  You'll see it a lot of the time on a crucifix.

The letters “INRI” are initials for the Latin title  that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:19).  Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire.

The words were "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm." Latin uses “I” instead of the English “J”, and “V” instead of “U” (i.e., Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum). The English translation is "Jesus of Nazareth," the King of the Jews."

Here is the link to a web site giving that information.

I received this photo of a piece of Muntz metal and the following email message from Greg S.

Muntz Metal Found
Find and photo by Greg S.
Although I live near Galveston Texas I read your blog daily. Your recent blog about Muntz metal reminded me of some pieces I found on Galveston. The attached picture is a piece I found with partial patent still visible. I sent this picture to a treasure hunter what is it forum. I was told it was sheeting with the Muntz patent.  Was kinda exciting to know this was possibly from mid 1800s. Maybe a ship.

Notice the illustration of the patent mark on the paper in the photo.  You can see the actual mark on the bottom left of the piece of metal in the same photo.

Thanks Greg! 

It is always nice to find good marking on any find.

Sometimes you might not see marks at first, and you might have to clean the item or look it over a few times before you do find any marks. 

Look finds over very closely for any significant marks.

Some of my wording in my yesterday's post was sloppy and inaccurate.  That is a first!  Not!!!

Anyhow, Brent Brisben sent in the precise language and details to clear up the matter.  Here is what Brent said.

Just wanted to clarify something in your latest report.  The Cabin wreck is salvaged under the State of Florida S-27 Salvage Contract which is issued each year in the names of my company and Chris James' company Double Anchor Salvage. Neither party owns the Cabin wreck site. All wrecks are salvaged under the direct permission and complete control of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. My company is the US District Court Custodian for all the identified 1715 wreck sites. Sometimes referred to as the Federal Admiralty Claim.

Thanks Brent! 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out yesterday's post and take a look at the photo of the gold and diamond studded finds.

On the Treasure Coast we have around a three foot surf today.  The surf will be about the same tomorrow.

The wind, however will be coming out of the North today and tomorrow and then on Sunday the surf will be a little higher.

Happy Easter,

Friday, April 18, 2014

4/18/14 Report - Story Behind Fabulous 1715 Fleet Finds - Gold and Diamond Brooch, Ear Rings, and Tooth Picks

Written by the TreasureGuide for the

1715 Fleet Treasures
Picture submitted by Bruce Beck.

In my 4/9 post I had some information about some big finds made on the Treasure Coast.  It started after I mentioned the 1715 Fleet diamond ring that is the current Sedwick auction.  Bruce Beck was kind enough to help set the record straight. 

Christopher James, Bruce's dive partner, added the following.

 Hey there you are correct about the butterfly brooch but not correct about the rest. I did indeed find the butterfly on my own but also went back and found the large brooch containing 170 diamonds in it and the gold snowflake toothpick before the boat was pulled over to the spot. And Bob found the earing containing 54 diamonds and I found the other one three days later. They started blowing with the boat after that. I do believe that the large stone to the center of the round brooch is still out there and is about 10 carats, according to Captain John Wilson.

Did you get that?  It sounds like the 10 carat diamond is still out there to be found.  Maybe it will wash up on the beach some day.  Keep your eyes open!

Bruce provided the picture above that was in the magazine article about the find.

Note the toothpicks as well as the diamond studded brooch and ear rings.  Those are some really neat finds.

Thanks much Bruce.

Every year Mel Fisher Days is held in Key West.  This year it will be from July 10 - 13.  You can get more information at

You undoubtedly know that it took 16 years to find the Atocha and the $450 million dollars of treasure.

Horse Tooth in Jaw Bone.
It is always good to check your equipment out before you need it.  Don't forget to check your backup detector if you have one.  Make sure the batteries are still good and that you have fresh batteries on hand. 

Also, it is a good idea to check your detectors and batteries before you put them in the car.  It is a real bummer to get there, and when you are all ready to get started, find that your detector isn't working.    That is a real pain.

Here is a different type of find.  It was found in shallow water.   It isn't fossilized and still has part of the jaw bone.  It's about three inches high.

On the Treasure Coast today the surf is up to about five or six feet.  The wind was strong last night a time or two.  It could have moved some sand, but I don't expect much due to the fact that the wind was out of the East and is going to be out of the Southeast the rest of the day while the surf decreases.

The surf is predicted to decrease for a couple of days.

Happy hunting,


Thursday, April 17, 2014

4/17/14 Report - Another Bunch of Finds, Buttons and Coins, Cannon Ball, Semiole War Items, Surf & Erosion

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

As you've been seeing from some of my recent posts this month, some guys have really been cleaning up with the artifacts and silver coins.

Great US Coat Button Find
Find and photo by SW.
SW has been detecting a Seminole War era site where he found all the following listed items.  And he says there is still more left to be found.

Here is a listing of his finds.

Period finds; 1 Dragoon button, 1 Artillery button, 1 Great Coat button, 1 unmarked flat button, 1 4 hole button, 1 brass clip, 1 Jeweled screw, 3 copper nails / tacks, 2 round balls, 2 other bullets, 1 2 1/2 inch Iron ring, 1 8 inch iron ring (both badly deteriorated) and other unidentified items.

Modern items; 1 silver Quarter 1948,
2 silver dimes 1952-54,
3 wheat pennies 38, 42, 57,
1 George Junior Republic token 1946.

Clad; 7 Quarters, 11 dimes, 4 nickels oldest 1947, 48 pennies.

18 Pound Cannon Ball
Photo by SW
He said, A ton of trash was removed,   I only hunted a small portion of the lot. I know better items are there.  Good luck to the next guy.   

Thanks for sharing SW.  Great finds!

And some people think there is nothing left to be found. 

SW also said,
I acquired this cannon ball on the 7th.  The story I got, it was collected by a dock contractor from the Dry Tortugas. The book, out of the blue, I ordered on the 4th!! I think my next book will be on Gold Cobs!!! The guy with the cannons should contact me maybe we can identify the age and country of origin. The Ball is an 18 pounder unknown age. ...  I am researching a pirate site for my next project.

As I've been showing there are still good sites out there if you do your research and get permission.

I went out to take a look at the beach this morning.  Most of the cuts that I showed yesterday had already disappeared.  The sea was rough.  The water was coming up onto the flat beach at high tide.

We had the expected higher high tide.  The trouble is that the wind also changed direction and the water was now hitting the beach pretty much from the East.  

Wind and water direction, which are correlated, are among the most important factors for predicting erosion.   Surf height and tides are also included, but in my opinion the angle that the water hits the beach is most important.

Just the other day when we got the cuts that I showed, there was very little surf.  Now the surf is bigger and the erosion mostly all but disappeared.


This is what the water looked like at one 1715 Fleet beach this morning.  Pretty rough.

Later today the surf is supposed to be bigger and then decreasing tomorrow.  It looks like the wind will be coming more from the South, which won't be any help.

Based upon what I saw today, I'm not expecting a beach conditions upgrade now.

Happy hunting,


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/16/14 Report - Odyssey Marine, SS Central America, Copper Sheathing, Northeast Wind & Erosion

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Treasure Coast Beach This Afternoon.

We had a good northeast wind on the Treasure Coast this morning.   That surprised me a little.  After watching it a while, I thought I should go check out the beach even though the surf was supposed to be small.
This picture shows the same beach that I showed yesterday.  The top cliff is from yesterday.  The bottom cliff is from last night, or more likely, this mornings high tide during the northeast wind.
You can see that a foot or more of sand got removed since yesterday, and this wasn't the most eroded spot.

Same Beach Just a Little North.
In some spots more sand got removed today.  The second picture shows where there was about a four foot cut.  It ran a good distance too.  It was about a two foot cut yesterday and two more feet gone today.
This cut beach that I'm showing was the most cut of any that I saw today.  Other beaches were nothing like this one.
I checked it out simply because the wind looked promising.  There were very very few signals though.  I'm not going to increase my beach conditions rating despite the sizable cut on this one beach.  I will however issue an alert.  If things continue to improve we might get into something.

Tonight the high tide will be higher than normal.  If the wind remains favorable that should help.  Thursday we're supposed to get up to a six foot surf and again Sunday.   That could do some good.

Odyssey Marine Explorations had a profitable year.  They will be salvaging the SS Central America which hasn't been worked in a decade due to court proceedings.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from an Odyssey press release.

The SS Central America was a wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed, three-masted sidewheel steamship launched in 1852 as the SS George Law. The ship was in continuous service on the Atlantic leg of the Panama Route between New York and San Francisco. Owned and operated by the United States Mail Steamship Company, the SS Central America was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857.

When it was lost, the SS Central America was carrying a large consignment of gold for commercial parties, mainly in the form of ingots and freshly minted U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins. Because of the large quantity of gold lost with the ship, public confidence in the economy was shaken, which contributed to the Panic of 1857.

Here is the link for more about Odyssey and their projects.

Did you notice that the SS Central America was copper-sheathed.  That practice started in the mid 18th Century.  So if you are finding copper hull sheathing it is from a wreck of that time or later and not earlier vessels such as those of the 1715 Fleet.   Of course, earlier wrecks do have copper items other than sheathing but copper sheathing would be later.

It can help a lot to know the approximate dates of things like that.

There is one beach on South Hutchinson Island that produces a lot of copper sheathing yet today.  I suspect a later shipwreck is there, in fact I think there is a mixture of wrecks there, but some of the copper bits could also come from things other than shipwrecks.  There is a lot of varied history there.

Here is a link to a site that gives some information on copper sheathing.

Later tin was mixed with the copper resulting in "Muntz metal."

Copper or copper alloy sheathing was no longer used on larger vessels after steel hulls became common, but it was still used later on smaller vessels.

Leo L. had this to say about Dan B.s key from yesterday's post.

Well the keys are likely from Allegheny County in Pennsylvania maybe likely keys from the jail?? or government building.

If the wind doesn't switch, and I think it will, we might get a beach conditions upgrade before long.

The trouble we've been having this year is the fronts have been moving through quickly and when the wind is right, it changes too soon and the cuts fill back in.

Happy hunting,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

4/15/14 Report - Key and Ring Find, Keys From the Margarita, Portuguese Man-O-War & Beach Conditions

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Treasure Coast Beach Around Low Tide This Afternoon.
I went out to look at a couple of beaches this afternoon.  Here is a photo of the first, that as you can see, had a little cutting and also a little scalloping.

The cuts here were less than two feet at the highest.  What is worse, is that the sand in front had filled up to the cuts and was mushy.

You can see how there were some scattered shells along in front of the cut.  I didn't bother detecting here.

Same Beach Just a Little South.
This is the same beach, this time looking from the flat beach towards the water and out over a dip.  Maybe you can see where the dip is in the middle of the picture.  Here it was more scalloped than cut. 

I went to one other beach and it was less cut and scalloped than this one.  It also had scattered shells and was very mushy along the water line.

There were targets at the second beach near the water line, although not things like coins -  pieces of copper and stuff like that.  Also there were some larger items that couldn't be recovered because they were deep and close to the water.

Portuguese Man-O-War
I saw a couple of these.  They normally show up seasonally.   They were pretty big and capable of delivering a good sting.

The stinging tentacles can be feet long.   I've got some good stings from those while in the water.  Try to avoid them.  When there are a lot of them in the water you might want to wear a wet suit or something.

Meat tenderizer seems to be a good thing to apply to affected areas to reduce the pain.  I've heard of other people who use other applications.  Some apply alcohol, but I haven't found that to be very effective.

Key and Ring.
Finds and photo by Dan B.
Here are a couple of finds from Dan B, and here is what he said.

At the top of the broken one, it says Allegheny, and is stamped in the middle with the number 16 and says County PA on the bottom. Not sure how old the key is, and the ring was found at the beach and appears to be modern. Go At Pro. Found two of these with low sensitivity just to reduce interference's from deeper objects.

The key is modern but it got me thinking that since there are a lot of keys found, you might want to be able to recognize older keys.   As a start I'll show some 17th Century keys from the Margarita, which sank in 1622.

The keys found from the Margarita and Atocha mostly look very much like those shown in the picture below, which is one of many pictures of keys from the Margarita and Atocha shown in the Mel Fisher artifact database.

Here is the source link for the picture of the keys.

Keys From the Margarita.
Source: Mel Fisher artifact database.

Tomorrow on the Treasure Coast the surf is supposed to be a bit bigger - up around four to six feet.  Also the high tide will be pretty high.  

I'm still not expecting much improvement in detecting conditions although we might have a few hours of North winds on Wednesday.   There is a lot of sand that needs to be moved.

Happy hunting,