Thursday, July 31, 2014

7/31/14 Report - Booty Makes Big Discovery On Treasure Coast Wreck Site. Gold Pyx. Low Pressure Area Moves Closer.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Shown below are two parts of the same item found 25 years apart.  The front part (on the right) was found 25 years ago, while the back (left) was recently found by the crew of the Booty.

Treasure Coast Finds.
Photo source: Video from Orlando Sentinel link below.

A truly great discovery was made this summer by a Treasure Coast salvage crew.  In fact a lot of discoveries were made, but the one I want to focus on today isn't a gold coin or even a bunch of gold coins, but something more important.

25 years ago a very intricate gold hinged frame was found, or at least that is what they thought it was.  This year, last month in fact, another very intricate piece of gold was found by the Schmitt family who operates the salvage vessel Booty.  It appears that the new find is the back of the item that was found 25 years ago.

The item appeared to be a frame before, exciting enough by itself, but having the additional part, they now believe the item is not just a frame, but it could be a pyx.  A pyx is a small, flat, clamshell type of container made of brass or other metals but lined with gold used in Catholic services. 

In the Catholic church a pyx would be used to hold the Eucharistic Host.  It would sometimes by carried in a fabric or leather pouch with cords and worn by a priest, deacon or minister of Holy Communion along with a monstrance.  When not carried, it would be kept in the church tabernacle.

This pyx would have definitely been owned by someone important.  It reminds me of the Pelican of Piety, which was also found on the Treasure Coast, and which I believe could be associated with the pyx.  Certainly both are very impressive gold religious artifacts.

I've posted about the Pelican of Piety in this blog back in 2012, and Laura Strolia, researcher and author, sent me a couple of excellent articles on the Pelican which I posted. 

You might want to go back and look at my 11/4/12 post, for example.

You can always use the search box on the main page of this blog to look for particular items or topics.  Enter either "Laura Strolia" or "Pelican of Piety" as search terms.  That should get you there. 

Here are two links about the recent find of the back of the pyx.   Cool video showing the discovery.,0,1244901.story

Congratulations Booty!!

The low pressure area that I've been following for a few days is moving closer to the Lesser Antilles and now has a 60% chance of becoming a cyclone according to NOAA.

On the Treasure Coast we still have a one-foot surf, which by this weekend will get just a little bigger.

The most read post of this blog for June 2014 is the 6/29/14 Report -  National Archives For Research, Detecting Military Shells With a 2-Box Detector,  Getting To More Remote Beaches, & US Religious Shrine

I'm going to highlight the most read post of the month at the end of the following month.  If I did the current month it would usually be one of the early posts of the month since readers continue to read the older posts for a while after they are posted.  This way there is enough time for even the most recent posts of the month to be read.  At the end of August I'll see what the most read post of July was.

As I pointed out, you can always go back and read old posts.  Using the search box is a convenient way to find particular topics.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7/30/14 Report - Fine Bunch of Stone Tools Found. Site For Learning About Stone Tools. Cyclone Likely to Develop in Atlantic.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Photos of Finds Submitted
By One Reader From South Africa
I got an email from a reader in South Africa that found these stone tools.  I only have a vague familiarity with that sort of thing.  I wondered if anyone knows if they have a Portable Antiquities Program like England or what the laws are in South Africa.  He has some very nice finds but doesn't know what to do.

Here are some of his pictures.


 He said something about what he thinks is a Spanish shield on an item from the same location.  I didn't see a picture of that.

Maybe some of you guys that know about stone artifacts can offer some comments.

I don't do this very often anymore, but I did it today.  I added another site to my reference link list.  That site will give you a very good introduction to stone tools and a few other objects.  If you want to be able to identify a stone tool when you stub your toe on one, this would be a good site to look at.

I think every detectorist should know a little bit about a lot of things, and this is one of those things.

Check it out.

Very good site for learning some basics.  It is now listed on my reference list as Stone Tools: An Introduction.

Don't throw anything away in the field if it MIGHT be interesting.  I've done that too many times.  I still regret discarding some things that I tossed aside years ago.  It is important to recognize items in the field, but if you aren't sure what something is or might be, hold onto it until you can really inspect it and do some research.  You can always throw something away later, but you might never find it again if you toss it aside too soon.

The most recent item that I discarded was a piece of flint that I dug when I was up north digging another target.  I should have kept it.  It wasn't an arrowhead, but it might have been another tool or partly worked.  I don't know now.  That is why I regret not keeping it.

It reminds me of the time many years ago when I dug a musket flint.  I was just beginning detecting and tossed it away.  That seems stupid to me today.  Shortly after tossing the flint I found the rusted part of the musket that held the flint.  Should have kept that too.  Live and learn.  Those are a couple of things that I threw away that today I wish I hadn't.

From the stone age to the digital age.  Early personal computers are selling for big dollars.  An Apple-1 (the company's original model) sold at auction in November 2010 for more than $213,000.

Here is a link to an article on collecting for financial investment.

On the Treasure Coast we still have that one-foot surf and winds from the West today.

Low Pressure Area Likey To Become a Cyclone.

This low pressure area will likely become a cyclone (70% chance).

Who knows where it will go from there.  It is still a long way out.

I've been impressed lately how hunting the same site over and over again can continue to produce finds long after it would seem that you have covered everything, especially when you change detectors.  Some detectors that are very good at the beach are not so good on developed inland sites where there may be power lines, underground cables and other sources of interference and junk.

In the future I'll do some more tests with various detectors.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

7/29/14 Report - How Small Silver 1715 Fleet Cobs Identified by Metal Detector Target ID. Cape Verde Storm Season Begins.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Snall Mexican Cob Remnant Used In Test
Before I begin today, I need to make something clear.  The tests that I have been doing are not just about a single detector.  These tests, although they use a particular detector, illustrate many of the points that I've made many times in the past, such as the dangers and imperfections of target ID and discrimination.  They are real, and they can be very important.

Another point that I am making with these tests is that you have to know your detector to get the most out of it.  If you don't you could be missing a lot of good targets - perhaps the best targets.

One day, using five different sample gold jewelry items of different sizes, I showed that if you did not dig items identified as  pull tabs, you could be missing something like 40% of the gold items that you put your coil over.

Another Small Half Reale Used In The Test
One more important thing I am illustrating through these tests is a systematic method anyone can use to learn how their detector responds and what it is telling you.  That is perhaps the most important thing to learn from these tests.  These types of tests can be used with any detector and any type of target.

I looked at how gold was identified by one detector a couple of days ago, and a few pieces of silver yesterday.  Overall, I've found coin ID on the Ace 250 to be generally excellent, but gold not as good.  That is to be expected.  Gold items are unique in size and shape and even composition.  Gold items vary in purity and the alloys used.

Today I'm going to look at how the same detector identified three small beach-found silver cobs.  Two of the test cobs for today's test are shown above.

As with the other tests, I tested using four of the detector's modes: All metals, Coin, Jewelry and Relic modes.

For the small cobs I used a badly worn half reales, which, as is true of most cobs found on the beach, were significantly underweight. 

The first weighed 0.015 troy oz,, the next, .07 troy oz., and the third, 0.2 troy oz.

The top picture above shows a small cob remnant, which is so small and worn that it would be underweight for even a quarter-reale, even though it is a half reale.

It measures about 5/8 inch across at its widest and barely over one half inch long.

These test results are easy to summarize.  The ID in all four modes was the same for all three cobs.  In all four modes all three cobs were identified  as a nickel.

That isn't bad.  Yes, you can't tell the difference between a cob and a nickel with the target ID, but at least the cobs didn't ID as a pull tab or something else that you most likely would not dig.

I was surprised that the detector identified the very small reale (0.015 t. oz.) as a nickel.   This inexpensive detector very clearly detected a very small piece of silver.  Not bad!  And it did not ID it as junk.

That is good news if you want to use a detector like this for finding cobs.  I haven't used this detector in the field for that purpose yet, and the one serious deficiency of this test is that it was conducted on dry sand, not mineralized or wet sand.  That will be a test for another day, although I most likely would stick with my much more costly detectors if I were really hunting reales on a beach.  Another test for another day would be to see how much depth effects the results.  These tests were done on surface items.

As it is, I am pleased with the effectiveness of this detector.   My first field tests in an old yard and woods, went well, as did the tests that I conducted since then.

Questions remain to be investigated, but I am getting to know this detector and its strengths and shortcomings.  I learned that if I'm searching for gold, I need to dig items identified as nickels or pull tabs.  If I want to detect small cobs, I need to dig items identified as nickels. 

I haven't test larger reales yet.   The smalls identified as nickels, while the large (0.6 t. oz.) silver bullion coin that I tested yesterday, was identified as a half dollar.  This test did not test reales in between 0.2 t. oz. and 0.6 t. oz.   I'll have to do that some time.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some in that range that will ID as a pull-tab.  We'll see.  For now, I know that the target ID would not cause me to miss small reales if I dig targets identified as nickels, or larger silver coins.

It is the time of year when the Cape Verde storms start coming across the Atlantic with greater frequency.  August through October are the peak months to watch for those storms.

Here is a link to a good article about the Cape Verde hurricanes

Right now there is a tropical disturbance about a 1000 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands that has a 70% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.

According to the predictions, the Treasure Coast will be stuck with a one-foot surf through next Monday.

Happy hunting,

Monday, July 28, 2014

7/28/14 Report - Target ID Test On Silver Beach Finds. 13 At Beach Injured By Lightning. Old Bomb Stuck In Tree. New Tropical Wave.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

1715 Shipwreck
Silver Fragment
Silver Bullion Coin.  1966 100 Pesetas.

As I promised, I did additional tests of target ID and discrimination using the Ace 250 for the tests.  This time I used some things that have been found on 1715 Fleet beaches over the years as well as a few other items.

Today I'll show what happened when I used this ornamental piece of silver.  I don't know for certain what this piece of silver was.  It obviously is broken.

This item and another very much like it gave an inconsistent pull tab ID in all four modes that I tested (All metals, relic, jewelry, and coin modes.).  It displayed pull tab a good bit of the time but jumped around.
You can't really expect a detector to correctly identify an item like this.  Yet you'd probably want to dig it.
Another item I used with this test wasn't a 1715 item.  It was the 1966 100 Pesetas bullion silver coin shown above.  It came from a Treasure Coast beach, but not a shipwreck treasure beach.  It weighs 0.6 troy oz.
This item was consistently identified by the detector as a 50 cent piece in all four modes.  Not exactly what it is, but not bad at all.  You couldn't expect any more of a detector.
Also I tested a silver dime.  Just like clad coins, it was properly identified as a dime 100% of the time.
I'll get into cobs on my next report.

If you are going to use target ID or discrimination, you should know how it works.  It is not always as simple as it seems.  You can easily miss some of the best things out there.  As I often say, test your detector on the types of targets you really want to find.
Here is an important warning!  We've had a lot of thunderstorms. 
Lightning killed one person and injured thirteen others when it struck the beach and water at Venice Beach, California.
Be careful when lightning is anywhere around.  It can come from miles away very unexpectedly.
Buried million dollar treasure in Yellowstone Park?   That is the rumor, and the rumor has the park service alarmed. 
I suppose only treasure hunters have been rescued?  Why not the same alarm over climbers and hikers that get in over their heads.   I'm sure a lot more of them have been rescued than the two "treasure hunters."  
Don't get me wrong, don't hunt in parks or other places where it is illegal.  Obey the laws.  I just think treasure hunters and detectorists receive disproportionately bad press.  Treasure hunting is a bad word for some.
There was an clean up of the waterways around Sebastian.

An old bomb remained stuck in tree for 75 years.  Interesting picture.

There is a tropical wave over by the Verde Islands with a 30% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.  It is a long way off, but could develop.

On the Treasure Coast still more of the same.  No change in beach detecting conditions.

Use the g+1 button at the bottom of posts to indicate which posts you particularly like.  That will give me feedback on what you like to see.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

7/27/14 Report - Treasure Beaches Report Readers Make Metal Detecting Finds Around the Country and Around The World

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

I feel like I gave you a lot of very good information in my last two posts.  There is a lot to digest there.  Today I thought I'd give a lot of good finds to look at.  The following were all found by Goldnugget on a North Carolina beach.  Wouldn't you like to have a spot like that?

All of these finds and photos were by Goldnugget at the same beach location.

He was using an Excal.

Not only do people from other states read this blog but also some from other countries.

Once I wrote about the floating coil on my Whites Dual Field.

Ron J., from Germany wrote recently to say that you can purchase weights for that  coil when you want to use it underwater.  Whites also has a weighted coil that goes with the detector.  It is your choice at purchase.

Ron also said,  I will return to the Treasure Coast in October.  Thanks to your ideas about research. I found in Stuttgart Germany a  "Schrebergarten" (garden plots rented from the city) that had been removed last year.
Today I hunted there and found a metal badge from the  Deutsche Turn Fest Stuttgart 1933.  I  put that into Google and there are many photos of the of the event in the form of old post cards for sale.
Very interesting photos showing what was going on here with the NS movement.   Also on ebay there is the same badge for sale in good (looks new) for around 11 euros.
 The wife and I had a very pleasant afternoon learning some of our local history.
 All thanks to things I learned from you.
 Can't wait to get back to the BEACH! 
Metal detecting brings a lot of people to the Treasure Coast, not only domestic but international as well.  It can be a family activity and gets people interested in history and archaeology.  It is a shame that so many government officials that don't understand the many benefits don't support it.

There is nothing significant going on in the Atlantic.   On the Treasure Coast we'll have more smooth seas and no improvement in beach detecting conditions.

I think the two most recent posts were very useful.  If you agree, let me know by using the G+1 button below those posts to Like them.

I plan to do more similar tests.  One will be on detecting cobs.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7/26/2014 Report - How To Learn What You Might Be Missing With Your Metal Detector: Test Results. VLF Lightening. Water Proofing A Low Cost Detector.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Yesterday I looked at how a relatively inexpensive detector with a target ID display responded to gold items in Coin and Jewelry hunting modes.  Today I'll report on how the same detector (Ace 250) responded to the same gold items in the Relic and All Metals modes.

This picture shows the five sample gold objects that were used in the following tests.

Test Items.  Same As Yesterday.
In the Relic mode the two small rings (1 & 2) showed on the ID display as nickels.   The slightly larger ring (no.3) jumped back and forth between nickel and pull tab.  The largest ring (no. 4) showed up as a pull tab.  The gold bracelet (item 5) showed as a nickel.

So in Relic mode these items showed up very much like they did in the Jewelry Mode.  One difference with this mode as compared to the Jewelry mode is that the jewelry mode would discriminate out lower conductivity targets such as lead and brass that you would actually like to detect in Relic mode.

I'm not going to get into the Custom mode, but will move on to the All Metals mode.

In All Metals mode, the two small rings (numbers 1 and 2) both showed as nickels.  The larger rings (items 3 and 4) both showed as pull tabs.  And the bracelet showed up as a nickel.  

Both of the small gold rings showed up in all four modes as nickels.  The smallest gold ring (item 1) jumped between nickel and foil in Jewelry mode only.  I suspect that if there were even smaller gold rings in the sample, they might have showed up more towards the foil ID.

Coin mode, as useful as it is for finding coins, did not detect the two larger rings at all.  That is a danger with using the Coin mode.  You can miss average size rings.

I thought Coin mode was very seductive.   You could pretty much guarantee you had a coin if it was solid on the coin ID and could avoid digging anything else.  That might be what you want in certain situations.  But the danger is that you could easily get lulled into just picking up coins.   I'm personally not that interested in digging lots of clad coins.  One gold ring can be worth a lot more than hundreds of coins, so I'd rather dig gold.

Coin mode actually did its particular job very well if it wasn't for missing so much gold.  It identified coins very well and eliminated or identified trash.  It was not unusual for trash such as pieces of aluminum cans to cause the ID to jump back and forth between pull tab and dime or whatever. 

The Coin mode would be useful if you are targeting  coins.  It could also be very useful as one step in a Step Search.  I described how to do a Step Search a few days ago.

Using a Step Search, if you don't know what a site holds, you can use coin mode during your first search to get an estimate of the amount of activity at the site and the date of the site from the coins that you find.  At the same time you will also get some sense of the amount and type of junk present even if you don't dig it.   After doing a search in Coin mode, you might then switch to another mode such as Jewelry mode if you suspect the possibility of jewelry, or Relic mode if you suspect the presence of interesting relics or if you decide to clean up the site by removing large iron that might mask other coins or jewelry.  That gives you a few examples about how to use different modes during a Step Search.  It is a very good technique for a site holding a good number of targets.

The three modes other than the Coin mode, identified the larger rings as pull tabs, with the exception of the Relic mode, which showed item 3 as nickel/pull tab.

The gold bracelet was identified by all four modes as being a nickel.

The larger rings were missed completely in the Coin mode and identified as pull tabs by the other three modes.

If you assumed the ID display to be 100% accurate and dug items identified as nickels but not trash such as pull tabs, you would miss about 40% of the gold items in this sample. 

I know this is a small sample of items, but I think the test provides very good information.  Of course there are factors and complexities that I did not take into account here, such as depth and overlapping trash.  That can be for another day.  Of course different detectors will work differently.

You should do these types of tests with your own detector and the types of targets you are most interested in.   I highly recommend testing your detector on a variety of targets.  That is the best way I know of to get to better know your machine.

In the future, I'll post results of similar tests of target ID using other targets, such as treasure cobs.

I've never tried the Ace 250 with the coil in the water but Robb M. has.   It works.  Robb made a YouTube video showing that.  He also made a video showing how to waterproof the 250 control box and ear phones.  Check out Robb's Homemade Life channel on YouTube.  The video he made about an alternative to Disneyworld talks about treasure beach detecting and this blog.

Here is the direct link to the video on water proofing the control box.

We've had a lot of thunder storms lately, and you may have heard the crackle of distant lightening in your ear phones.  And maybe your detector seemed to go a little crazy for a brief time.  Here is an article about the sounds of lightening.

The Earth sings every day, with an electric chorus. With the right tuning, radios can eavesdrop on this sizzling symphony of crackles, pops and whistles — the melody of millions of lightning bolts. ...

With a VLF receiver, anyone can listen to the constant chatter of Earth's lightning, estimated at 8 million strikes every day. (Not every lightning bolt becomes a whistler.)

A worldwide listening network is tuned to one particular lightning sound, called whistlers.

Here is the link for the rest of that article.

Absolutely no significant change in beach detecting conditions on the Treasure Coast again.

This is the season to watch for storms and I will be doing that.

Happy hunting,

Friday, July 25, 2014

7/25/14 How Not To Miss Gold: Detector Mode Test Results. Saga of the Central America.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Sample Gold Items For Detector Test
There is no detector that can identify any and every type of relic, watch, ring, or whatever with 100% accuracy. I am certain that you will miss some very good things if you simply pass over items because of how they display on an ID screen or because of the audio tone. You have to make a calculated decision concerning how much of what you are willing to miss. 

It is relatively easy for a detector to correctly identify modern US coins.  They can do that well, but the question is, is that what you really most want to find.

Not very long ago I talked about making those decisions in my post on Math for Metal Detecting.  I pointed out how a single good find can be worth more than hundreds or even thousands of coins.

Whatever your decision making process, there is little that is more important than actually knowing your detector, especially how it reacts to high value targets such as gold.   And there is no better way of getting to know your detector than working with known test targets.  It doesn't matter if you are hunting cobs or modern gold, you absolutely need to know how your detector responds to the items that you really want to find.

I did a field test of the ACE 250 not long ago.  It is a low-cost discriminating detector, that in my opinion is a very good detector for the price.  I used it for the following test.  I wanted to see how well it identified various samples of gold jewelry.   For me, these types of tests are mandatory for any detector that you want to use.

I got a sample of gold items that varied in size and weight for the test.  They are pictured above.  I labeled them 1 - 5 going from left to right in the picture.

The first thin ring weighs .04 troy oz.   The second weighs .09 troy oz.  The second is smaller but wider than the first.  The third weighs .23 troy oz., and the forth, .27.   The fifth is a bracelet weighting .67 oz.

The ACE 250 has five hunting modes;  coin, relic, custom, jewelry and all metals.  I tested the Coin and Jewelry modes first.

I put the targets on ground that I have used many times in the past (so I know it is clean) for such tests and ran my coil over the test targets.

In Coin mode the small rings labeled 1 and 2 were identified as nickels.  Fine!  You might think you are digging a nickel and be surprised to find a small gold ring.  No big problem.

Still in Coin mode, items 3 and 4, were not detected at all.  By that I mean there was no audio tone.  

I ask you, would you rather detect a clad coin or the average size gold ring?   If you don't want to dig anything but coins, that is fine, but realize what you might be giving up.

Still in Coin mode, the bracelet (item 5) was identified as a nickel.   Hope you are digging nickels if you go over a bracelet like that.

In Coin mode, you will dig smaller gold items that display as nickels.  You will, however, miss larger gold that falls in the pulltab range.

In Jewelry mode item 1 jumped back and forth between nickel and foil on the ID display screen.  Item 2 was identified as a nickel again.   Items 3 and 4 were identified as pull tabs.  And item 5 was identified as a nickel again.

If you want to find gold in Jewelry mode, you should be digging nickels, foil and pull tabs. 

This test was done using one particular detector.  Results with other detectors can vary, but these test results should show you how important it is to know your detector.

To summarize, if you were using either the Coin mode or Jewelry mode, you very well might have missed items 3 and 4.   That is two out of five gold items.   And they are pretty typical rings, which makes it even more important.

In Coin mode, you would not have detected them, and in Jewelry mode you would have misidentified them.

A lot of guys use Jewelry mode rather than Coin mode when hunting and say they find more coins in the Jewelry mode.  The Jewelry mode does not discriminate (eliminate the audio tone) for as many non-coin items. 

In this test it should be noted that I'm using a best-case scenario.  Items were on the surface and not near other items or junk which could have added additional mistakes.  Also deep items in the field may not be identified exactly the same as shallow items.

As I explained when I talked about Step Searches, I would not exclusively use a single mode on a promising area, but would switch modes and also detectors and cover the same ground multiple times.   What one detector or search mode misses another might not miss.  That is one big reason for going back over the area after having analyzed the area and likely targets.

This inexpensive detector has already found good numbers of coins missed in areas heavily hunted by much more expensive and powerful detectors.  Each different type of detector has its own specific strengths and weaknesses.  That is another good reason for searching the same area multiple times with different detectors.

Some detectors are very sensitive to electric lines and underground cables, for example.  Some are good at target separation.  There are different things that will allow one detector to find what another, even another more powerful detector, will not find.

I found this test enlightening and hope you did too.

I'll cover the Relic and All Metals modes tomorrow.

The site of the Central America had not been worked since 1991 until a court-appointed receiver awarded a contract to Odyssey Marine Exploration to salvage what remains on the Central America with the hope of obtaining more treasure and paying back investors.  Odyssey Marine has since recovered 43 solid gold bars, 1,300 $20 double eagle gold coins, and thousands more gold and silver coins.

Here is the link to that interesting story.

On the Treasure Coast we're still stuck with a South wind and East swell and only a one foot surf.  That has been the pattern for a long time now.  Still watching for a change.

I think this was a very useful post.  I hope you think so too.   It explains in an empirical way much of what I talk about.  More tomorrow.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

7/24/14 Report - Carolus III Reale & Other Silver Found. Coin Cleaning Experiment. Tropical Depression 2.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Silver Finds by Ben R.
Photo submitted by Ben
Tropical depression number 2 is now only a tropical disturbance over the Lesser Antilles.

Here are some great finds.  Ben R. sent me this picture of his finds along with the following email message.

I have been reading your blog since this past February when I spent a week in Fort Pierce and spent about 30 hours on the beach detecting hoping to find shipwreck treasure. In those 30 hours I found nothing but clad, and after returning home to Wisconsin I couldn't believe I had been totally skunked! I started reading your blog from the beginning and trying to educate myself about beach hunting. My dad and his brothers are very into detecting up here in the Midwest and I think I finally caught the bug, however there aren't many beaches up here in Wisconsin. In my ignorance, I had been detecting on mostly replenished beaches and I'm certain any treasure that was there was buried under a few feet of sand. I had learned the importance of research and had the sunburn to prove it.

Last weekend, after a few hours of research, I had found a spot that seemed promising up here in Wisconsin. After only an hour I had found 4 silver coins, and then right in the middle of a walking path I heard a solid tone from the DFX. At first I thought it was a half, but as I brushed away the dirt I saw the date. It was a 1781 Carolus iii dei Gratia reale. I found my Spanish treasure in the place I least expected it, out in the woods in Wisconsin. Hopefully this November my father and I can make the trip back to the treasure coast to detect after a big surf.

Thanks for taking the time to share your passion for detecting, your blog is great and is having an impact on the detecting community!
Thanks for sharing Ben.  Those are some great coins!  I hope we get some better beach conditions for detecting here on the Treasure Coast.

I've been talking a lot about off-beach and out-of-area treasure lately.  There are times when you have to adapt, and one of my old sayings is "There is always some place to hunt and something to be found."  I also believe that you usually learn something when you try new places.

Ben reminds us of something important  -  the importance of research.  If you want to find old stuff you have to hunt the right spots.  That goes with something I said yesterday, or was it the day before - a detector is basically a pin-pointing device.  It won't tell you treasure is there until you put the coil over a treasure.   Even when the detector coil is over something good, the item can be missed - thanks in part to the miracle of discrimination.  I'll talk more about that again very soon.

Yesterday I began an experiment on freezing items in water as a method of cleaning dirty items like coins.  I gave you a link to an article about that and wanted to do a test of my own.

You might remember this fire-fighter's prayer token. I posted it shortly after finding it a couple of months ago.

Close-up of part of the token before cleaning.
Here is the item as seen shortly after found, and then the second picture shows it after being frozen in water over night and then thawed out. 
You can see the crust obscuring the words of the prayer in the first close-up.

The second photo shows the token after being frozen and thawing.

The cleaning procedure definitely worked to some extent.  Unfortunately I don't know the metal this token is made of.  It does not appear to be either copper or silver.

Although the procedure worked, some crust remains.  Perhaps another freezing might clean it more.

Same Token After Freezing and Thawing

Wheat Cent Before And After Freezing

I also tried the same treatment with this wheat cent that had been buried in soil (not sand) for many years  The surface showed only faint detail.  It was difficult to read the date even after other attempts at cleaning.  I froze this one and thawed it twice because the first attempt did not accomplish much.

 Here are the before and after photos of the wheat.  You can definitely see some of the details better in the photo of the treated coin.  Notice the layer that appears to be coming off of the lower right edge.  I don't know if that surface dirt or not.

Some of the spotty removal actually made the coin harder to see in some places, such as over the wheat on the left.

Some results this time, but not what you would hope.  Again, this coin was cleaned before without hardly any results, so it represents a really stubborn case.  It was about the worst looking dirt dug coin that I've seen, so maybe not the best test.

Overall, I'd say freezing might be a good treatment in some cases, but don't expect dramatic results on stubborn coins.

I first learned of this method in the following link, which you might want to read for more detail.

 I have experiments on the effect of using different detector modes to detect gold items.  The results so far didn't surprise me, but they illustrate some very important things that you should know.  I'll post that some time soon.

On the Treasure Coast, as I said above, Tropical Depression 2 died, and there are no significant changes in beach detecting conditions.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7/23/14 Report - Depression Two Moving West. Emeralds Found. Great Tool To Inspect & Photograph Coins For Errors and Grading.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Projected Track of Tropical Depression Two

What I am most interested in these days is Tropical Depression Two, which is moving towards the west.  It is not expected to become a hurricane in the next few days.  The current track seems to be towards the Gulf of Mexico.

One thing to remember is that it doesn't take a hurricane to really improve beach detecting conditions.   Sometimes a storm that sits off the coast and churns a while can actually do more to create erosion. 

The Mel Fisher organization says,  Our members spent six days sifting through material in search of Atocha Emeralds while enjoying the biggest Mel Fisher Days celebration to date. A total of 18 emeralds were recovered! The emeralds were of varying sizes and shades of green including this beautiful recovery.

I always encourage methods in addition to metal detecting.  Sifting is sometimes a good one. 

In the past I've shown photos of coins and things made with a Celestron Hand Held Microscope.  I really enjoy using the microscope.  Not only does it make good close-up photos, but it is also an easy way to inspect coins and things.

The microscope hooks into your computer using a USB port and the image appears on the computer screen.  You can then capture photos or even videos, if you want to move the object or take videos of a moving object. 

Although it is called a hand-held microscope, it comes with an adjustable stand which can be used to focus the microscope so that you can quickly pass coins and other items under the focused microscope for close inspection.  It makes it easy to see any small markings on rings or other items. And is good enough to make it very quick and easy to detect errors or other small details on coins.

Above is a nice high-relief 1946 Canadian penny at low power.  And here is a photo of the designer's initials found below the leaf on the right using higher power.

The actual computer image is even better than the photos shown here.

The microscope will show very fine details and could definitely help you find errors or grade coins.

I've started a test of the coin cleaning method that I mentioned yesterday and took photos of a coin and medallion before I froze them in water.  I'll take photos of the same objects after they have been thawed and we'll get a good idea of how well freezing worked to clean the coins.

Celestron Hand-Held Microscope Mounted On Stand

Besides inspecting coins you can also inspect other things, of course.  Have you ever had a hard time seeing the marks inside a ring?

You can put a ring under the microscope too.  Move it around so you can see all areas of the inside of the band until you find any marks.

Below is an example showing the marks found inside a silver ring.

I find it much easier to look at items under the focused microscope than trying to look through a loop or magnifying glass.  The microscope has its own variable lighting too. 

If you've tried to use a loop, you know how difficult it can be to stay out of the way of the light while getting a good view.

Marks Found In Silver Ring

One thing I should have added about the Step Search strategy that I described yesterday is that it is very much about identifying and working various layers.  You will often be working through layers.   For example, if there is a layer of surface aluminum, and you are working in a "coin mode" you'll probably being removing items from the second or third layer before the first.  Nonetheless, you should be identifying each layer and the predominate types of items found there and what is likely remaining at each layer.

On the Treasure Coast the wind will be coming from the South for days and we'll be stuck with a one foot surf.  You might like that if you water hunt for recent drops.

The tides are pretty flat now too.

Tropical Depression 2 is still way out there.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

7/22/14 Report - Tropical Depression Two Moving West & How To Conduct An Intensive Step Search

Written by the treasureguide for the exclusive use of

Tropical Depression Two
First, tropical depression 2 has formed east of the Lesser Antiles and is moving west.

I've been talking about the importance of search strategies.  One that I use in certain situations, I call Step Search.   A step search is done in multiple hunts.  The important thing about a step search is not that it is done in steps but that at each and every step an analysis of findings is made and then adjustments are made.

The Step Search strategy can be conducted over a longer time period when it is inland.   The same strategy can be also be used on the beach or in the water, but since conditions change more frequently there, you never know when how much time you will have.   In the water and on beach front, conditions at a particular spot can change very suddenly and quickly.  On the other hand, you might be able to return several times without an appreciable change in conditions.

One of the important things about the Step Search strategy is that you gather data during each step or hunt.  During each step you analyze the finds, or the lack of finds, and come up with your best estimate of what you think might be there.  You might decide after any one of the steps that there is not enough there to warrant additional time at that location.  Analyze all finds and signals, both junk and good, to get an estimate of the likely value or probability of good targets.

After each step make adjustments select the best detector for the next step.  Select settings and search modes for the next step.  And decide which  areas of the overall area to focus on.

Switching detectors is often a good idea.  If the area is very junky, for example, but you suspect there might be good targets mixed in with the junk, a good discriminating detector might allow you to test the area to see if there are good targets in with the junk.  If you fail to find many good shallow targets during the first step, you can then switch to a deeper seeking detector to see if there are any deep targets below the junk.  If you find evidence of enough good things to continue the hunt, then you can make additional adjustments by selecting different settings and/or adjust your search method.

Remember, in the water or on the beach front, a productive area might remain productive for only one day or a few days and then suddenly disappear at any time.  A step search should be completed in those areas as quickly as possible.  You will probably not be quite as hurried at an inland site.

Switching settings between sessions allows you to test or sample different kinds of targets.  You might focus on relics one time, coins another, and gold other precious items on another. 

I'll usually do a very general sampling on the first session, evaluating how much junk there is and what kind of items might be spread around and how deep.   I'll often use all metals mode during the first session.  It is not necessary to dig everything during the first session, but you do want to get a good sample of what the area might hold. Then depending upon the analysis you might switch your detector and/or settings to focus on coins next.  That would be if you were interested in coins and if the area showed promise of the types of coins that you might be interested in.  An alternative approach at this stage would be to remove any large items such as iron, for example, if it might be masking good targets.  After each step or stage, your analysis determines what you do next. 

The ultimate goal at a good promising site would be to completely clean out the site, but you might decide to stop at any stage, depending upon your analysis.  Doing a complete clean out is especially warranted if it seems there is a good chance of ANY high value targets.

As I showed in my Math for Metal Detecting post, one high-value target can be worth more than a lot of low value targets and can make cleaning out an area very worthwhile.

I think you'll find that as the area gets cleaner and cleaner, you'll hear smaller and deeper targets that you didn't hear when there was more junk and more large and shallow targets remaining.  Adjust your detector settings and do a very tight grid wherever warranted.  Don't be afraid to go over the same ground very slowly. 

You might be surprised how many new good but subtle signals seem to appear as you thin out both the junk and good targets.  When an area has been fairly well cleaned out, select your most deep seeking detector and go slow to finish up. 

Here are some coin cleaning methods you may not know.  One particularly interesting one that I have not yet tried involves freezing a dirty coin in water and then thawing it out.  The water mixes with the dirt in cracks etc., and then when thawed the dirt comes off with the water.

Here is the link for detailed instructions.

I found this mounted wheat with bale and loop in a pile of found coins that I hadn't inspected yet.  I must have picked it up not noticing that it was mounted.

I don't know exactly where it came from now.

On the Treasure Coast we still have the one to two foot surf.  The tides are getting pretty flat.

Happy hunting,

Monday, July 21, 2014

7/21/14 Report - First US Mint Coins. Why Such Different Views On Same Detector & Chikungunya Virus in Florida Mosquitos

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

1792 Half Disme
Photo source: American Heritage Auctions Site.

 Here is a trivia question.  In what year did the US Mint deliver its first coins?  Find answer at end of post.

My 7/17/14 report included a review of the Garrett Ace 250.   I was up north at the time I received the detector, assembled it, and used it for the first time on three different days.  Not only was it easy to use, but I found a variety of types of targets in a short time, including coins from 1909 and 1829.   I felt that was a decent demonstration of the detector's capability.  I considered the fact that it cost me only $212 including batteries and headphones.  I had no idea how well it would do and was pleased with the results.

Yesterday I read a number of reviews of the ACE 250 and was surprised by some of what I read.  It seemed there were a lot of people who did not like it at all, and there were also a lot of people who were happy with it.  There were very few reviews that fell in the middle.  It seemed that people that wrote reviews  either hated it or liked it.  I would guess that people who are motivated to write a review fall on one side or the other.  People who are middle-of-the-road might not be motivated to waste their time writing a review.

Anyhow, I wondered why so many people were so much against the detector while so many others liked it.  Some called it a toy.   Others complained that it wouldn't find anything.

One possibility could be poor quality control.  There might be some lemons sent out, but  I really doubt that is the reason for the mixed reviews.

Some people might expect a $212 detector to look, feel and work like a $1200 detector.  I don't.

I think the mixed reviews come more from something that was discussed in my 7/12/14 post.  I posted some of views on detectors and detecting that were sent to me by James F.   Commenting upon the suitability of different detectors, James said it depends upon the type a hunting a person is going to do and where they are going to hunt.  I agreed with that.

There are additional considerations that I've discussed since then, such as your specific strategies and techniques.  I have presented some of mine in the past few posts.

I don't doubt at all that some of the poor reviews for the ACE 250 were the result of the fact that some people did not use it well.  Maybe they didn't take time to learn how to use it.  Maybe they didn't watch the instructional video.  Maybe they didn't test it first under controlled conditions to learn more about it.  Or maybe they expected it to perform like a high-end detector that they had more experience using.  Or maybe they were unrealistic about target ID and discrimination.

Some people commented that it did not perform in wet salt sand.  I haven't tested it there yet, but I suspected that would be the case.  The irregular mineralization at the water's edge is difficult to cancel out, especially for a detector that is trying to do a lot of analysis.  Some detectors simply don't handle wet salt sand very well.  I thought that the ACE 250 might be one of those.

In summary, I stand by what I said.  As James F. suggested, no one detector is a good fit for everybody or every detecting need.  The ACE 250 exceeded my expectations, especially when the price is considered.

Many people seem to blame there detector when they don't find much.  There are a lot of things that can be going on, but he skill of the operator is always a big factor. 

Don't expect a detector to find anything for you.  As I've said before, a detector is little more than a pin-pointing tool.  You have to put the coil over good detectable targets.  That is the big factor and the key skill.

Bad news!  Florida mosquitos are not only being their normal pesky selves, but they may be carrying a virus.  The Chikungunya virus has been detected in Florida.

Here is the link for more about that.

Trivia question answer:  The first delivery of coins from the US mint was in 1793, consisting of over 11,000 copper cents.  That is what the US Mint web site says.

The half disme shown above is thought by many to have been a test piece, although there is evidence that some found their way into circulation.

Same old story on the Treasure Coast - a one to two foot surf for the entire week.  Easy water hunting, but sandy conditions.

Happy hunting,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

7/20/14 Report - Mystery Item, N. C. Beach Hot Spot Still Producing, 1909 VDB Penny & Construction Project Finds

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Part of the old path I detected last week.
Back in my 7/16/14 post I showed a ton of finds including reales and other old coins and relics that were found by our friend GoldNugget on a North Carolina Beach. He made another trip back to the same location and spent 13 hours in the field one day, and he found a lot more. I'll have a report on his new finds in the future.

If you didn't see his finds in the 7/16/14 report, you should go back and take a look at that post.

When I talk about things like this there are always lessons to be learned. What GoldNugget showed us illustrates some things that I've talked about before. One thing that it shows is that some hot spots are not near parking lots or beach walk-overs, and if you can find one of those hot spots, it can be like your personal hot spot which you might be able to mine for a long time. I'm sure some good spots are still out there to be found on the Treasure Coast if you want to invest the time and hard work to check out some of the areas that aren't so easy to get to.

GoldNugget says he'll be sending photos of his latest finds from that location.

I've been talking about some experiences and detecting principles that were illustrated to me on my last trip up north. It can be fun to try out another type of environment once in a while, especially when beach conditions are not good here on the Treasure Coast.  I proved on my last trip up north that many of the principles that work on the Treasure Coast also work in very different types of environments.

One of the things I found on the old path shown above was a 1909 VDB penny, which cointrackers says would be worth over $6.00 even in poor condition.  If it had the S mint mark it would be $600 to $1200.

Check your finds, even pennies.

That penny, like the Large Cent that was found on nearby steep hillside, was not deep.  It was found on a down-slope of the old path that erodes a little every year.  Part of that path is shown above.  The 1909 penny was in the top couple inches of packed dirt/clay.   I explained before how I emphasize searching areas where good old things can be found in the top few inches.

I detected that same path briefly back a few years ago and found a 1940s class ring as well as relics from the days of horse travel, including a horse shoe and brass bell.  I don't remember which detector I used then.

Various Types of Finds From Recent Hunts Up North.

Yesterday I showed these items that I found while hunting up north last week. 

I don't know what the one item is?  In the cap at the top it has screw threads, so it was screwed onto something.  Please let me know if you know what it is.

Another thing about that brass item that appears as if it was once gilted and which was found in an old yard, is that it was found in a hole with a nail, bolt, and piece of aluminum.  Three pieces of junk were in the same hole with the item.  The relic was deeper than the old coins I just talked about.

The junk would make it easy to miss an item like that if you are relying on target ID or discrimination.

Someday before long I'll make a video showing how a detector will respond to various targets when using different modes.   I'll show the display screen when different targets are close together or on top of each other.

Artifacts From Construction Project
Photo source:

A lot of artifacts, including those shown here, were recovered from an I-95 construction project in Philadelphia. There are unimaginable numbers of artifacts out there waiting to be discovered.

Below is the link.

On the Treasure Coast you might have seen some of the signs reading Big Choo Choo. It seems that there are plans to drastically increase the number of trains running through the Treasure Coast and a lot of people are against it for various reasons.  There is a petition drive going on . If you've seen those signs and wonder what all of that is about, here is a link to read more about it.

 On the Treasure Coast we're still stuck with a one to two foot surf.  It has to change someday.

Until then beach detecting conditions remain poor.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

7/19/14 Report - Connected! Best Treasure Coast Detecting Months. Finding The Most Promising Areas To Detect.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Various Types of Finds From Recent Hunts Up North.
Many who read this blog are very interested in the beach detecting conditions ratings.  As you probably know, beach conditions have been consistently poor most of this year and last year.  I don't know that I've seen such a long stretch of time with such consistent Southeast winds and small surf in all the time since I've been detecting.

Conditions have been unusually poor for an unusually long time with only a few short improved periods in between.  That happens.  There are long-term cycles and short-term cycles.  We are definitely in a longer term cycle of poor conditions.  there will eventually be a few short periods of short term improvement, and eventually a longer term shift to improved conditions.  We'll just have to wait it out and then someday we'll transition into a much improved long term cycle. 

Beach conditions have not been helped by all of the beach renourishment programs that have been completed on the Treasure Coast over the past couple of years.

One person asked what the best months have been historically.  Since I have been detecting, this is my ranking of the best months.

1. November - February.
2. October.
3. March - April
4. Remaining months.

In my most recent posts I have been trying to explain some of my views on detectors and detecting and the reasoning behind those views.  I found good illustrations while hunting up north recently and noticed how I apply many of the same principles that I use when beach hunting to detecting in a very different environment.

For me it is first and foremost a matter of finding and identifying the most productive areas to spend my time detecting.  As on the beach, there are areas where good items can be found and areas where mostly junk will be found.  And there is always more area than can be covered with a detector.  That makes selecting the area very important.

I hope you are beginning to see why discrimination is so unimportant to me.  I seek areas where there is a high percentage of deeper and older targets.  Targets that tend to remain on the surface (mostly junk) are just as important as targets having a higher density.  They both help you analyze the area to determine if that is where you want to spend your time.

An area where there are primarily light items such as pull tabs is not where I'm going to spend most of my time, however I do not mind digging a few of those because they provide good information about the area and help me determine if I should be moving on or not.

Once I find a promising area, I want to clean it out.  Most of the most promising areas will not have many junk targets anyhow.  

Maybe I won't clean an area out all at once.  It might take numerous visits.

For me, if an area is not worth cleaning out, I usually won't spend much time there anyhow, except for the rare times when I resort to what I have in the past called "mucking," which is when I will intentionally dig a bunch of junk in order to get to a few good targets.  That is a strategic decision I will occasionally make based upon a number of factors.

Now, back to my recent hunts up north and how some of the principles I often talk about were illustrated during those hunts.  Here are some pictures of the woods that will help me explain.

Note the steep slopes.


The picture on the right looks down a very steep slope that descends a couple hundred yards to the intersection of a couple of small streams.  The slope is steep enough that it is difficult to walk down without falling.  I still have a scraped arm from one time when I slipped and slid down the hill on my side. 

On that steep slope I found the ring shown above, a wheat penny and the 1829 Large Cent that I showed yesterday.

Now here is the key point that I want to make today.   That steep slope, unlike some of the flat areas or depressions where leaves, dirt and humus accumulated, kept items near the surface.  Rain fell, water ran off, and leaves and dirt were washed down the slope .   Those are the types of areas I seek.  I want to detect areas where light items will be washed away rather than accumulate and where heavier items will stay near the surface and within detecting range.

That 1829 cent was obviously there a long time.  The copper surface of the coin shows the effects of a lot of time in the soil, yet it was found within two inches of the surface.

The wheat penny and ring were also within two inches of the surface on the same slope.

It didn't take a super detector to find those items because my search strategy is first and foremost to find the areas where old items will be near the surface.  The same areas will also have very few junk items like pull tabs.  That is one reason why I don't care much about discrimination.  I don't spend much of my time in areas where junk accumulates and heavy items sink beyond detector range.  And if there are junk items I want to see them in order to help me analyze the area and decide if I should stay or move on.

Finding both the ring and Large Cent in this woods made me wonder how they got there.  This isn't exactly a park, playground or main pathway.  I wish I could go back in time to see how it all happened.  Somebody sometime spent part of their life on that hill.  Different people in different centuries.  We'll never know why they were there, what they did, how they felt, or what happened to them.  They wandered the same woods as I, listened to the leaves rustle and the birds chirp.  Watched the squirrels and maybe tracked a deer.  Maybe even slipped and slid on the same rocky slope.   But I now hold and treasure something that they once held years ago or a century ago.  A piece of their life is now a piece of mine, and in that small way we are connected - probably much more than I know.

Happy hunting,