Saturday, May 30, 2015

5/30/15 Alternative Recovery Techniques For Special Situations.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Some guys carefully grid every inch of an area.  Other guys wander around randomly.  Some believe that they have a sense for where things might be.  Some believe in a sixth sense.  You might call it insight or intuition or ESP.  They feel drawn to finds.  Some believe in various forms of dowsing.

Where you stand on these things might have something to do with how you've been doing lately.  It is hard to believe in a sixth sense when you are in a dry spell and can't make a find to save your life.  Maybe you just wonder what happened to your ESP.

For everybody there are hot spells and dry spells.  The more you become accustomed to finding a lot, the less it takes to feel like you are in a dry spell.  When you become accustomed to a lot of finds, any pause or break can be perceived as a dry spell.  Everything is relative.

As you increase your skill and finds, you expect more.   Your standards increase.  You are less easily satisfied.  Even though you might find ten times as much as you did ten years ago, it doesn't seem like you're finding anything anymore - at least not anything that impresses you much.

That is good in some ways.  It pushes you to work harder, more intelligently and be more productive.  But don't let that take the fun out of it for you.

When you hit a dry spell, and you will to one degree or another as conditions change or areas are hunted out, that is an opportunity.  It is an opportunity to make some changes and explore.  It might push you to get a new detector, which is seldom the solution but can be beneficial, or explore new areas, do some research or learn new things.

One thing you should know is that there is always more to be found.  There are always other places to hunt.  There are always new treasures to seek.  There is always a lot to learn.

The key is patience.  Turn that dry spell into something positive.  Think about other ways to approach the problem.  Redefine the problem.  What is it you really want to do?  Break down old barriers and habits.

I'll give you one small example showing what I mean about making a change and doing thing differently.  Lets say you are detecting and come across a dense hole of targets.  It seems there is a target of some sort on every square inch.  Your meter is going crazy. You are having trouble pinpointing because there are so many targets and they are so close together.  What would you do?

If you are stuck in a habit you might try as hard as you can to dig each target separately like you normally would.  But let me ask you a question.  Is there another better way?  Why try to pinpoint and dig each target separately in this situation?  Why not just dig the entire area and then sift?   A sifter might work better than a scoop in that situation.  Or a dredge, if that is practical in that situation.

The tendency is to treat situations the same even when there might be a better alternative.

Have you ever heard of the Merkitch sifter?  It is a sifter with two large wheels that you pull through the sand to sift the top few inches.  That is an alternative to detecting.  It is a heck of a lot of work, but it works, and in some situations is more effective than using a detector and scoop.

I have one very large scoop that can be fitted with a 30 foot pole.  It provides another alternative for working dense or high probability holes in creeks, rivers or lakes.

When I recenly watched a video of a fellow trying to detect individual targets in a creek at a spot that was covered with junk as well as some good targets, I wondered why he didn't just sweep the top inch or so of cover (there was only an inch or so over bedrock) and sift it out.  It would have been a lot quicker than trying to pinpoint each and every target and pick them up one at a time.  There were a lot of things going for sifting.  One was running water.  Another was little soil cover.

If you've ever used anything like a Merkitch sifter, you know how quick it is to visually spot targets in a sifter even if there are a lot of junk targets.  It is almost like laying them out on a table.  Sifting can be especially good for situation when there are either a lot of good targets, or a lot of good and junk targets.

You probably know some places that are too junky to detect.  They might be covered with pull tabs, nails or whatever.  It might be worth sifting sites like that.

My main point today is that different situations call for different solutions.  When you are in a dry spell, that dry spell might be just the right time to do some thinking about alternate approaches.

Happy hunting,

Friday, May 29, 2015

5/29/15 Report - Shipwreck Salvage in the Colonial Period. Bells, Barrels and Bullion.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Treasure hunting didn't start with the invention of the metal detector.  There was a treasure hunting boom that started in the 17th Century.  The man who started that boom was William Phips, a New Englander born in Maine.  The event was the salvage of the Concepcion and 26 tons of silver in 1687.

Of course salvage began much earlier than that.  It is an activity that is nearly as old as man. It is natural to retrieve anything of value lost, whether on land or in the water.  The excitement of treasure hunting must go back to the beginning of time.  No less than Shakespeare wrote about gold, anchors, and jewels spread upon the ocean floor.  I don't doubt that it is the expression of a basic survival instinct.

Before magnetometers and air tanks men found a way to do it.  Pearl divers who could free dive to great depths played a large roll, but men soon found ways to supply air to the deep.

One of the biggest difficulties in the colonial period was simply finding a wreck.  Unless time hadn't elapsed and you knew where a wreck was or you could see the masts protruding, one of the primary methods of locating a wreck was by fishing.

Above is shown two ships dragging a buoyed line to snare the wreckage.  Then free divers went down to investigate.

For deeper wrecks and longer time on the bottom, other methods were used.  Here is a diagram of an early diving bell.

And for air supplied from the surface, below is shown an early Brownie of sorts.

To retrieve something from the bottom, you don't always have to be there.  There were other techniques such as these tongs.

In 1565 an attempt was made to lift the wreck of the Mary Rose with pontoons and wires.  At slack tide wires secured to twp ships acting as pontoons were slipped under the wreck at slack tide with the hope of lifting the wreck with the change of tide so that the wreck could be towed to more shallow water.  That effort failed.

Below is a picture of that.

My intent today is to point out that shipwreck salvage has been going in for a long time.  Hundreds of years ago there were investors and salvage contracts.  Salvage is natural.  You might say that it is close to a basic instinct.  It is an extension of the will to survive.  It inspires thought and problem solving.  It excites creativity.  It leads to invention and solutions, much like the space program.

Another thing I wanted to accomplish by presenting this is to show that there are always alternative methods.  Not all of those will succeed, but some will.  When you see some of the methods men used hundreds of years ago, you might think of other ways of doing things today.  If metal detectors were banned, treasure hunting wouldn't stop.  Other approaches would emerge.

ABT  Always be thinking.

I hope you found this interesting and perhaps a little inspiring.

This material, along with the pictures and diagrams, came from the article, Balls, Barells and Bullion: Diving and Salvage in the Atlantic World 1500 to 1800 by John Ratciffe. published in the Nautical Research Journal, no. 26, vol. 1, Spring 2011.

Here is the link.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

5/28/15 Report - Unique Beach Treasures. Fossil Shells With Calcite Crystals

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Sometimes you can find fossils on the beach that are a million years old.  That hasn't been the case much lately though.  Conditions have been too poor, and like with cobs, some of the best places  have been covered with renourishment sand.

Whelk Shell Fossil Photographed in Black Light.

Did you know that naturally formed gems have  been found on the Treasure Coast beaches?  I'm not talking about those that have been lost at some time.   I'm talking about gems that formed and were never before touched by man.

They aren't diamonds, rubies, or emeralds either.  What I'm talking  are fossils shells filled with crystals.  I'm talking about fossil shells that are thousands or millions of years that have turned into crystal gardens.

You've probably heard of Ruck's Pit.  I'm not talking about those either, but the web site for the Fort Drum Crystal Mine (present name for Ruck's Pit) tells something about how they form.  Here is what it says.

The crystals form inside of the clam shells by a long process. "The calcite is dissolved from the fossil sea shells by acidic groundwater and then transported downward where it then reprecipitates inside the shells of the clams (called quahogs) and occasionally other mollusks," explained Means. Means further explained that the calcite crystals actually form just below the water table in water that is supersaturated with calcite (calcium carbonate).

Talking about Ruck's Pit again, the web site says, The deposit is actually a nearshore marine deposit that represents a former shoreline, " said Harley Means, assistant state geologist, Florida Geological Survey, Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Means explained that sand and fossil seashells found in the mine are thought to be several million years old...

Here is the link to the Fort Drum Crystal Mine Web Site.
You can visit the Fort Drum Crystal Mine to search for fossils for $45 per person until June when the price increases to $60 per person.
Long before global warming the sea was much higher than it is today.  Things come and go.
Back to the beach.   There are deposits of calcified fossil shells found at other places besides Ruck's Pit.  An occasional shell with calcite crystals can be discovered on the beach.  The one shown at the top of this page is one example.

Same Whelk Shell Shown Above
Closeup In Regular Daylight.

In this blog I've shown both fossil shells and bones found on Treasure Coast beaches that contain calcite crystals.  One neat small fossil bone that was found on a Treasure Coast beach has calcite crystals in the hollow of the bone.
Certain minerals fluoresce in ultraviolet light.  That is what you see in the picture at the top of the page.  It isn't easy to photograph objects under black light, but I think you can see some of the rich purple and yellow fluorescence in that photo.

I have also used a black light to find certain fluorescent gem stones such as rubies and garnets.  The black light really makes them pop. sells fossils and shows one calcite crystal fossil conch shell on the site.  I found the following description of that fossil shell instructive.
Here it is.

Okeechobee County, Florida, USA
PLEISTOCENE PERIOD:  1.81 million years - 10,000 years ago
Fossils that have been formed or filled with gem grade minerals are amongst the rarest and most beautiful of all.  The highly uncommon geological occurrence of a well-preserved fossil formed out of stunning gemstone grade minerals is why these specimens are so passionately coveted by both fossil and mineral fanciers, alike.  They make up the rarest of fossils and almost always sell for several thousands if not, tens of thousands of dollars.

In south Florida, there is a gravel shell pit that this strange phenomena can be found - crystals in fossils!  The occurrence of calcite-lined shells is this site's hallmark but the calcite ranges from a light coffee color to a drab burnt honey hue.  Intense yellow gem-grade specimens such as this are not found at the mine but have been found in the same formation of a nearby undisclosed site.  A fossil of this quality, completeness with crystals of this clarity and intensity is no less rare than finding fine grade gemstones of any type from any site in the world - actually rarer since this is a perfect crystal specimen AND a fossil. 
This is a small Busycon species gastropod fossil from the last North American Ice Age Period.  The entire shell's internal cavity has been fossilized with the whorl and inner chamber filled with bright lemon yellow gem-grade calcite crystals.  Nearly the entire shell has been completely replaced with translucent glowing calcite as seen in the above images.  Busycon was a predatory marine whelk that fed mainly on bivalves by attaching itself to its prey with its foot and slowly rasping a hole in the shell of its unfortunate victim.  Whelks can move great distances and can go against tidal currents with the use of its powerful foot.

This specimen was part of an extremely limited find that was made by the quarry geologist NOT at the working mine but at a location nearby that is not part of the commercial operation.  This find was very limited, discovered and collected in the early 1980's and specimens of this nature have never been located since.  This color and quality certainly does not occur at the working quarry.  Of the few rare examples that have hit the market, prices have exceeded $1000.  The color and lack of crystal damage on this beauty easily top those $1000+ examples. This is the only one we will ever offer as it was a rarity unto itself for us to even acquire it.  If you want a stunning and rare mineral AND fossil specimen all wrapped up in one, you could hardly find a more affordable and yet beautiful example.  Guaranteed NO REPAIR and NO RESTORATION.  This beauty is AS FOUND!

The deposit that this prize specimen was collected from offers an abundance of well-preserved fossil marine shells.  Its coquina matrix dates to the Pleistocene and is part of the 'Nashua Formation' being composed of cemented marine fossils with calcite.  

That description is from

Not only have I seen fossil shells with calcite crystals on the beach, I have also seen some in the Indian River.  I don't know how they got there.  They could have been dumped there with road fill for Indian River Drive, but I don't really know.


People say all the time that you can't take it with you when you die, but there is an exception.  The only thing you can take with you is what you give to others.


Happy hunting,

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5/27/15 Report - A Mexican Four Reales. Wreck of the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion. Survivor Camp Dagger.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Same Four Reale
Coin To Be Auctioned By
Public Lands For The People.
Photos by Jerry S.

A few days ago I mentioned that Public Lands for the People, an organization that works to preserve outdoor recreational activities such as prospecting and mining on public lands, was going to auction a treasure coin.

The coin had been donated to the organization.

Here are two photos of that coin, which is nicely mounted in a gold bezel.

It is a 4 reale from the Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion.

Its always nice to see a good treasure coin.

I like having them displayed in this manner rather than being stored away unseen somewhere.

It also comes with the certificate of authenticity shown below signed by Burt Webber.

You might know the story of the Concepcion and Burt Webber.  Here is a little of that story as printed in the Ocala Star-Banner in 1979.

Click here if you want to read the entire newspaper article.

Here is a short history on the wreck of the Concepcion as presented on the web site.

Concepcion sunk in 1641 off the northeast coast of Hispaniola

The Concepcion was one of the most significant Spanish wrecks of all time, serving the Spanish with a loss of over 100 tons of silver and gold treasure. The almirata of a 21-ship fleet, the Concepcion was already in poor repair when the Europe-bound fleet encountered a storm in September, leaving her disabled and navigating under makeshift sails amid disagreement among its pilots about their location. Weeks later, she grounded on a reef in an area now named the Silver Shoals, just to the east of another shoal known as the Abrojos, which the pilots were trying to avoid. After another storm hit the wrecked ship and the admiral and officers left in the ship’s only longboat, the remaining crew resorted to building rafts from the ship’s timbers. Survivors’ accounts pointed to drowning, starvation and even sharks for the loss of around 300 casualties. In the fallout that ensued, none of the survivors could report the wreck’s location with accuracy, so it sat undisturbed until New England’s William Phipps found it in 1687 and brought home tons of silver and some gold, to the delight of his English backers.

The Concepcion was found again in 1978 by Burt Webber, Jr., whose divers recovered some 60,000 silver cobs, mostly Mexican 8 and 4 reales but also some Potosi and rare Colombian cobs (including more from the Cartagena mint than had been found on any other shipwreck). Unlike the Maravillas of just 15 years later, however,  the Concepcion did not give up any gold cobs in our time, and any significant artifacts found were retained by the government of the Dominican Republic, who oversaw the salvage. The bulk of the silver cobs found on the Concepcion were heavily promoted, even in department stores! The site is still being worked from time to time with limited success.


Here is an interesting item shown online shown at

It says it was found in a Spanish salvor's camp in southern Brevard County.


The next day or two on the Treasure Coast we'll have something like a two to four foot surf.  Just a touch higher later in the week.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5/26/15 Report - Vanished Freedom and Family Cache. Scabbard Tip Find. Santeria Yemaya. Sand & Seaweed.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

John Brooks Park This Morning Near Low Tide.
I received a number of very good responses to my Memorial Day post.  Thanks for all the comments.  One very personal email was from Alberto S.

Alberto said,  ​I enjoy reading your posts everyday and today was no exception, actually I think it was great. Freedom is something I don't take for granted, I come from a communist dictatorship that took ​our freedom away and destroyed a flourishing republic; Cuba. 

As to metal detecting, I can only imagine the treasures that are probably buried in Cuba, as an example I left the island when I was 12 years old and only returned last year at the age of 62, I did so at the insistence of our son who wanted to learn about his roots and I realized we were getting older. Anyways, went to my hometown and walked back in time visiting my grandparent's home we were allowed to walk in and when I stepped into the backyard, the lady that is living there now told me that once they were planting a tree and uncovered a metal box with jewelry in the form of gold rings, gold ear rings and a gold chain, surely buried by my grandmother or some other relative, she apologized to me and said they had to sell it out of necessity obviously I told her not to worry and was even surprised that she even told me, you just have to wonder how many other backyards that still remain without construction hold buried treasure. Sorry for the long email, and thank you for your comments on the value of Freedom.

Thanks for sharing Alberto.  

There are a lot of seniors stashing away cash and other valuables in the U. S. these days too.  Near zero interest rates and the "death tax" are two causes.

Photo of finds submitted by Pavo.

Pavo thought the odd accumulation of nearly 300 coins that I recently found in one small area might be the result of Santeria or something like that.  I agree.

He sent this photo of his finds from South Florida.  Some, if not all, are Santeria Yemaya tools.

See my 2/24/15 post for similar finds.

You can find stores that sell those online.


I've received a few emails on the recent silver find made by the crew of the Capitana.  I originally thought it might be an aglet.  Bill P. thought it was something like that too.

William M. thought it might be a tip to a scabbard.  I now think he is right.

Dan B. send this picture of a rapier scabbard.  Notice the tip.

Rapier Scabbard.
Picture submitted by Dan B.

Here is a picture of the find as posted in my 2/24 post.

Photo by Captain Martinez
of the Capitana.


Trivia question.  Who built the first transcontinental railroad.

Answer (according to wikipedia).  The rail line was built by three private companies: the original Western Pacific Railroad Company between Oakland and Sacramento California (132 mi or 212 km), the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California eastward from Sacramento to Promotory Summit, Utah Territory (690 mi or 1,110 km), and the Union Pacific Railroad Company westward to Promontory Summit from the road's statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs on the eastern shore of the Missouri River opposite Omaha Nebraska (1,085 mi or 1,746 km).


I went out to the beach this morning and took a look at our different beaches.  None were very promising for older finds.

Of course the beaches yesterday were crowded and there were some recent drops to be found.

Most beach fronts were built up and mushy.  The bigger surf (3 - 5 feet) hadn't done much good.  The waves have been hitting almost directly from the East.

At one beach there were a few dips, but they were sandy too.  Not very promising at all.

There was a lot of sea weed on most of the beaches.  That is not a good sign.

There were a few nice shell piles at one beach.  This odd piece of pottery or whatever was in a shell pile.  The bright red color is unusual in my experience.

Red Pot Shard Found In Shell Pile.

I checked the area where the hundreds of coins were found.  I left a few coins just so I could check when I went back and see if anything was happening.

They were still there, a bit of a surprise in itself considering the number of detectorists that hit that beach daily, but they were deeper this morning.  I could tell that a little more sand had piled up on top of them.

Another Beach This Morning - Looks About the Same As the Other.
There were scattered showers along the coast this morning, but nothing very lasting.

A lot of people said they liked yesterday's Memorial Day, and it is already tied for the most Google Plused post of the year.

Thanks to all!

I had a lot of other stuff but will have to hold it for another day.

Happy hunting,

Monday, May 25, 2015

5/25/15 Report - Memorial Day Post

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

I was thinking today that I'd talk a little about freedom, first because it is Memorial Day and we respectfully remember those who fought to preserve our liberties, but also because freedom  is a topic that I've been touching on in different ways in recent days.

We all want life, liberty and to be able to pursue happiness, but sometimes the things we do endangers our freedoms.  Lack of responsibility and good judgment puts freedom at risk.  Not that all restrictions on freedom are wise or just, but restrictions are often, not always, a reaction to something done without good judgement.

On smaller matters such as metal detecting, we often lose our liberties because someone somewhere did something stupid or harmful or maybe something that just didn't look good.  Leaving unsightly holes is one small example.  The hole might not actually be dangerous, but someone, perhaps too many someones, or someone with too much power, might see it that way.

I don't want you to get the idea here that I'm putting something like our metal detecting issues at the same level as wars and the loss of life suffered by those in the military.  I'm definitely not, but this is a blog on metal detecting and many of the same principles apply whether we are talking about large or small freedoms.  I often heard, "Take care of your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves."  Take care of the small things and the large things will be taken care of as well.

Ronald Reagan once said,  “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”   

H. L. Mencken said, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it.”  I believe we face a lot of that these days. 

We get more rules, laws and regulations when we need them, or when we don't need them but when someone has been able to convince enough people that we do.  

Not all decisions are made with honesty, good judgement or knowledge.  That is true for each of us and governments too.  The result is that there are at times conflicts, and there are issues worth fighting for.

Government seems to have fewer and fewer limits as people are crammed closer and closer together and more and more people depend upon the government for more and more.

I find it interesting to listen to talk shows and hear how so many people are willing to give away freedoms and liberties these days.  People give their lives for our freedoms and then we give the same freedoms away because of fear, laziness, convenience, or stupidity.

I guess there will always be that tension.  Freedoms will always be at stake.  It will require vigilance and good judgement, whether we are talking about the basic freedoms of life and liberty or smaller things.

Of the smaller things, we often think it really doesn't matter, but maybe it does.  What are you willing to let slide?  Where do you make your stand?

Big things matter, but so do little things.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

5/24/15 Report - Shipwreck Salvage Season Off To Good Start On Treasure Coast. CSS Georgia To Be Raised.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Silver Object Found By
The Capitana Thursday

Captain Martinez and the crew of the Capitana had their first day of the new salvage season on the Treasure Coast Thursday and already hit silver.  Here is what the Captain Jonah said.

 We took advantage of the good weather with some new and old crew mates. We wanted to shakedown the boat and make sure everyone gets in step. Already seem to run across ship wreck silver and a couple of other piece of wreckage. We are ready for a awesome summer of finding lost  treasure. We will keep it coming up and sending pics. 

Congratulations on a great first day and thanks for the report Jonah!

I'll have more on what I think the silver object is in the very near future.

There is still plenty out there to be found.


Salvaged Grapeshot
From The CSS Georgia

See link for source.

The CSS Georgia will be raised by the U. S. Corps of Engineers.

A team of Navy divers spent a week in mid-May preparing for an historic salvage of a Civil War ironclad scuttled more than 150 years ago. Mobile Diving and Salvage Company 23 will deploy to Savannah, Georgia, on June 1 to free the Confederate States Ship Georgia from her watery grave.

Grapeshot dispersed as it was fired from the cannon. The shot was held together by cloth, which released the rounds as it burned, or disk-like caps which sits below rounds in this photo.

The above quote and the picture is from the web site accessed by using the following link. You'll find more information and pictures there.


Finds and photo by Leoanard G.

Leonard G. noticed a beach that he thought might have been overlooked up until now.  He tried it out and found this bunch of coins shown below in about an hour and a half.  His next step is to wade in.  Looks like it could be promising.

Thanks for sharing Leonard.  Let us know what you find in the water.


The biggest surprise I had about the nearly three hundred coins that I dug yesterday, besides the fact there were so many in one spot, was that nobody else had removed them.

As I said yesterday, some were encrusted, so I know they had been there for a few days at least.  Zinc pennies do corrode quickly, but still most of the main Treasure Coast bathing beaches are getting hit multiple times daily and are very clean.

That just goes to show once again what I always say about not just detecting in front of the main crossovers in front of the beach.  There may be areas not too far away that might not be cleaned out as thoroughly.

When I was digging yesterday I noticed an area where a good number of people gathered, and they even set up a volleyball net.  It was an area where I have never looked before because I didn't know people congregated there.  I plan to check that area the next time I'm on that beach.


Well the summer season is in full force and the Treasure Coast shipwreck salvage season has started.

Next week we'll have something like a three to five foot surf all week long.  That won't put any old stuff on the beach, but it might shift sand around a bit.  I'll welcome that.  We'll still have to wait for a storm or something to give us access to older objects again.

Happy hunting,

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5/23/15 Report - Cluster Hunting and A Strange Coin Hole Containing Hundreds of Coins In One Small Area.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Jensen Beach This Morning.
I've been thinking of talking about cluster hunting and today provided a good illustration.

The first thing I normally do on a beach after looking it over and checking any spots that might look especially promising is run a loose scan with the intent of finding any clusters or hot spots.  I'm not so much interested in single finds as I am interested in finding clusters such as coin holes or coin lines.

To find a cluster first run a very loose pattern over large areas.  If you hit one good target then you can check to see if it might be part of a cluster.

Well, I  went to the beach this morning.  There were a few thunder showers in the area but I didn't think it would last and was prepared anyhow.

Not seeing cuts or any signs of hot spots, I quickly ran a loose scan over a hundred yards or so.  I  didn't hit a single coin until I came to a spot where it sounded like there was either something very big or a bunch of items.

When I started to dig, I found shiny new coins.  There were more and more.  At first I thought it was a spill, but then it got bigger than what I thought a spill would likely be.  By the time I quit I dug nearly 300 coins, which were distributed in an oval shaped area no bigger than fifteen by thirty feet that ran from near the water line to near the high tide line.

It seemed like it was too big for a spill, and if a coin hole, it was the most dense coin hole that I've ever seen on the Treasure Coast.  The coins were often so close that several would sound like a single large item.  The detector I was using isn't great on target separation anyhow.

I just realized that I probably should have switched to non-motion mode.  I don't know why I didn't think of that.  I guess I got too caught up in trying to figure out the hole.   Nearly three hundred coins packed into a small area and most of them, especially the first hundred or so dug close to the water line, looked like recent drops.

At first I thought there were only nice new coins, but as I moved up the slope some of the coins closer to the high tide line were encrusted or discolored, looking like they had been there a while.

I was thinking about leaving the coin hole without finishing it because the coins were so new looking that I didn't think there would be any gold there, but the coins were packed so close together that I was curious to see how many there were.  And I wanted to figure it out.  That is why I stayed as long as I did.

Beach Where the Coin Hole Was.
I couldn't see any beach features that would explain why the coins accumulated at that one spot.

Was it a spill?  Who would spill 300 coins?  But then there were some encrusted coins in with the new coins, so maybe it was a genuine accumulation.  I was curious and puzzled.

There was one wheat penny.  It didn't look like it had been on the beach long though.   Maybe it was a recent drop too.

Part of The Coin Hole
The coins were so close together that sometimes two or three would come up in one scoop.

I filled the holes several at a time as I went from water line up the slope.

Some of The Coins Dug This
Morning Just After Being Rinsed Off.

The coins appeared so new that the accumulation couldn't have taken long.  The hole was so dense that it appeared to be a spill, but the spill was bigger than a normal spill.

I found a cluster of some sort.  Not all clusters are the same though.  Some clusters contain old coins and things.  Some clusters contain gold.  This one showed no signs of gold and little evidence of older items.

I don't know the last time I dug continuously for hours in wet packed sand, but I was getting tired.

Finally I think I figured it out.  What I think happened is a few days ago, but not long ago, a beach wedding took place and people threw coins instead of rice wishing the married couple prosperity.

Maybe they weren't interested in fertility. :)

Or maybe it was something else.  I'm pretty sure now that it was not caused by natural beach processes.

That is about the only way I can account for 300 coins so closely packed without much movement of sand.

One of my main points today is that clusters are not all the same.  Some are not worth the time.  Those that contain older items or those that have accumulated over time are more promising.

While I dug these these coins I only dug one piece of junk - a beer bottle cap.  That is amazing too.

If you know of any traditions or anything else that could account for this strange cluster, let me know.

The surf on the Treasure Coast will be increasing a bit - up to near five feet or so next week.

Happy hunting,

Friday, May 22, 2015

5/22/15 Report - Preserving Mining, Prospecting and Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands. Prehistoric Casino. Beach Erosion & Refilling.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

In the last few days I've received emails from different parts of the country including places as far apart as New York and California.

I  heard from a fellow that operates an organization that does the kind of work that is much needed.  The organization is called Public Lands for the People.  He didn't ask me for publicity, but I don't mind giving it.  I'd like to make sure our public lands are open for prospecting, mining and other outdoor recreation including metal detecting.

The organization received a treasure coin that they are going to auction and what he asked about was getting the coin authenticated.

You might want to take a look at the PLP web site.  Here is the link.

Sharon P. found what appears to be an antique fire hose nozzle. She did a lot of digging to get it.

Can anyone tell us if it is antique?

Find and photo by Sharon P.
She said she went back to the beginning of this blog and started reading through it.  Others have told me they are doing the same thing.  Nice find Sharon!


Prehistoric casino?

A cave on the shore of Utah’s Great Salt Lake is giving archaeologists a rare glimpse into a seldom-studied aspect of life in the ancient West — prehistoric gambling.
Researchers exploring the cave, known simply as Cave 1, have identified hundreds of dice, hoops, carved sticks and other trinkets used in indigenous games of chance and skill.
Based on what they’ve found so far, they project that there are more than 10,000 such items still waiting to be uncovered, making it likely the largest deposit of ancient gambling artifacts ever found in the western U.S.
Here is the link for the rest of the article.


Not too long ago I found an erode dune that had released a lot of coins onto the beach front.  The coins extended from the base of  the cut and down into the shallow water.  In the drawing the red indicates where the coins were on the sloped beach.
One day I returned to the same beach and it appeared that the water was lower.  It wasn't.  Instead of the water being lower the beach was higher.  The cut had filled in to a large extent.

The only objects that I found after the beach refilled were along the very base of the cut.  (Small red line.)  Those targets fell out of the face of the cliff after the beach had refilled, so they were found on top of the new sand.

That kind of erosion and refilling occurs over and over again.  Keep a mental record of the different levels of the beach as they occur.

As I've said before, stumps and rocks and other relatively stationary objects can help you gauge the coming and going of sand.


We've been having a one to two foot surf along the Treasure Coast.  The surf was very comfortable this morning near low tide.  Very easy water detecting, even if not good detecting conditions.  Both the beach and shallow water is sandy.

This weekend will be a busy beach weekend with the holiday on Monday.

The surf will increase slightly this weekend, and next weekend we'll have something more like a three to five foot surf for a few days.

That won't change beach conditions much, but even a slight shifting of sand will be welcome.

Happy hunting,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

5/21/15 Report - Nautical Archaeology And The Rich History Of Florida. Great Resources For Shipwreck Research.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Today I'm going to provide some information that will serve as background material for a future discussion on some shipwreck salvage topics.  I think you'll find it very interesting on its own.


Florida has a lot of interesting history.  Have you ever heard of Beard's raid?

The Civil War had devastating consequences for industrial northwest Florida. To prevent the local industrial complexes from being captured and used by encroaching Union troops, Confederate forces burned and destroyed the industrial infrastructure as they retreated (Rucker 1990). Among those destroyed were the immense industrial complexes located along the Blackwater River.  

The map above shows  Colonel William K Beard's path of destruction.

I had the opportunity to hunt that area when I was doing contract work for the Naval Air Station at Pensacola.  A fellow that worked there had done some detecting with little luck near Milton, which you can see near the top center of this map.  He was detecting an old site that was near the river.  The hotel had burned down years ago.  He wanted me to show him how to work the site.  I've told a little about that before.

I found some old coins, a silver plate, tax tokens, a gold plated lapel pin and other items in just the first couple hours of detecting.  It was obviously a good hunting location, and I wish I had more time there.

The area had a long thriving lumber business and was a shipping center.  A lumber mill was established in the area by the Spanish as early as the 18th century.

Here is a thesis that will tell you something about that.

Here is one good resource.  It is the thesis PARADOX ON THE BLACKWATER RIVER: THE HISTORY OF AN UNKNOWN SHIPWRECK By Marisa Lee Foster B.A., University of West Florida, 2009.

That thesis is the source of the map shown at the top of the page, as well as the quote.   Here is the link.

One of the best things about academic studies like this is the list of references that you'll find at the end.

Here is a thesis on abandoned ships in the same geographical area that I found in the reference list.

THE HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF SHIP ABANDONMENT AT SHIELDS POINT by Paul Goodwin Sjordal B.A., The University of California, Davis 2000

And here is that link.

This is something I think you'll want to browse.

Here is the Palafox as it looked when being built.

 Below is the same ship as it looked years later.

There are numerous sunken ships in that area.

The next picture shows a lead draft marker.

I once found what I thought was a lead draft marker on a Treasure Coast shipwreck beach.  The one I found was in the shape of a V.  Roman numerals were used then.

In this thesis you'll see a good number of illustrations and photos.  It is very informative.

It also talks about the culture and evolution of wreck sites as well as many helpful concepts related to nautical archaeology.   That is something I'll discuss more sometime in the near future.

My main point today is the wealth of research material that you can find on the internet these days, including academic studies like the two I mentioned today.  And don't forget to check out the reference list at the end of each thesis.


On the Treasure Coast we have one or two more days of two foot surf then we'll get a slight increase.  We still have the negative low tides but they are moderating.  No big beach changes are in the forecast.

Happy hunting,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5/20/15 Report - Reveiw Of The Garrett ATX Extreme Part II. Gold Markings and Possible Confusion.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

ATX In Folded Position.
This is a continuation of the review of the Garrett ATX that I began yesterday.

As I said, the ATX does have discrimination.  It is simple linear discrimination with 25 incremental positions.   Low conductivity targets are the first to be discriminated.

There are 13 sensitivity settings.

For maximum detection of small and deep targets, use maximum sensitivity and zero discrimination when you can.  If there is electrical interference in the area, you can do a frequency scan to select the best operating frequency.

I mentioned yesterday that pinpointing is not easy with the ATX unless you use the pinpoint mode.   That is true of the motion mode, which is what a lot of people will use.  In non-motion mode you can sweep slowly and will not need to use the pinpoint button.

There is another pinpointing trick that I might describe some other time.

I find the visual signal strength indicator most helpful for pinpointing. I can see the peak signal strength much better than I can hear it from the auditory signal.

The ATX is a heavy detector.  That will be a problem for many people, but I find it surprisingly easy to swing considering its weight.  It comes with a harness, so that might be a solution for some.

The controls and settings are easily accessed, for the most part with one finger while you detect.

You will dig deep targets with the ATX, both good and junk.  It can get a bit tiring.

It is good on gold.  It responds to small gold very well as compared to clad coins.  It can detect small gold and chains that would be missed by many detectors, however you must use it well to get maximum performance.

I use a test target to determine how well I have the detector tuned.  I talked about that before.

For some situations, such as dry sand, the default settings might be all you need.  Just turn it on and go.  If you don't want to miss a thing, turn up the sensitivity to the max.

However if you are in the wet sand or salt water, or highly mineralized soil, you might want to make some adjustments.   If using motion mode you might want to ground balance as you move from one area to another.  That is not necessary in dry Treasure Coast beach sand.  Again, I like using a test target to make sure I am getting near peak performance.

Once you learn to use non-motion mode in salt water, that will give you the best performance.  It takes practice though, and the threshold setting is very important.  Also expect to retune frequently when using non-motion is salt water.   You may encounter audio drift.

There are some cases when you might not want to detect everything, such as on a beach cluttered with small pieces of iron.  In that case you can decrease sensitivity.

To sum it up, the ATX is a very good detector that will detect small and deep targets and is very good on gold.  It is a bit heavy and requires some practice and skill for optimal peformance.  It can beat most of the detectors being used on the beach if used well.  Like I said yesterday, if you are a person that likes to use discrimination, I'd select another detector.  You can discriminate with the ATX, but then you are minimizing the power that you paid extra money to get.

In many ways the ATX is just the opposite of the Ace 250 that I once reviewed.  I would use the Ace when I don't need maximum depth and want a detector that is easy to use.   The ATX costs nearly ten times as much as the Ace.  Of course the ATX is more rugged than the Ace.

I've heard of problems with the ATX rod freezing but I have not had that problem.  The ATX eats up batteries, but comes with rechargable batteries and a recharger.


Often wedding rings will be inscribed with a date.  Did you know that 8-10-11 does not always indicate August 10, 2011?   It sometimes indicates the 8th day of October.  Some countries put the day before the month.

So if you see something like 20-10-2011 and are wondering how the month can be the twentieth month, it is probably the day rather than the month and your ring is from another country.

Gold purity is often given in either K (karat) or as a three digit decimal.

Karat purity is measured as 24 times the purity by mass, or in other words 24 times the mass of gold divided by the total mass of the item.   24-Karat gold is fine (99.9% Au w/w), 18-Karat gold is 18 parts gold 6 parts another metal (forming an alloy), 12-Karat gold is 12 parts gold (12 parts another metal), etc.

14k is approximately .5833% gold, but jewelers increase it to .585% for easier mixing.

Back in the old days there was a time when I used to see KP stamped on an item and thought it meant the object was gold plated.  That was a big mistake.  KP stands for Karat Plumb, where "plumb" indicates "exact."   So the KP mark is a good thing instead of a bad thing.

Look for and make good use of any markings but don't blindly accept them.  There are times when they are wrong.  Sometimes intentionally.

A lot of rings these days are 9K.   That might lead to some confusion if you do an acid test.  Normally the first container of test acid will be for 10K.


Expect more days of calm surf on the Treasure Coast.  This is getting old.  We do still have a good negative tide.

Happy hunting,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5/19/15 Report - Garrett ATX Review Part 1. Introduction To How To Hunt A Beach Rewind.

Written by the Treasure Guide for the exclusive use of

Garrett ATX Detector
Every once in a while I evaluate a detector and post a review.  I haven't done a review in a while, but I recently evaluated the Garrett ATX for beach detecting.  The ATX is used by a lot of gold nugget hunters, and I think was designed with that type of hunting in mind, however I wanted to see how it would do as a beach detector.

I didn't do one of those quickie evaluations that people sometimes do.  They assemble a detector and in short order take it out in the field for a couple of hours.  Those kinds of evaluations aren't worth a whole lot.  While you can do that with some detectors, maybe most, it takes longer to really evaluate a detector like the ATX.   My experience says that the ATX will do a lot better in the hands of a someone that has put in a good number of hours with it.  That is what I did.

I tested the Garrett ATX Extreme PI with the standard 10 x 12 inch DD Coil.  Optional coils are available.

There is no way that I would classify the ATX as a beginner's detector.  It took me longer to get to understand the ATX than any other detector that I have ever used.  Maybe that is partially because I really got into the details more than ever before.  I wasn't satisfied with simple impressions.  I did a lot of precise testing.

First of all, the ATX is a pulse induction detector.  Some of what you know about pulse induction detectors is true of the ATX.  It is definitely hot to iron.  You can detect microscopic iron with the ATX.

The ATX has discrimination.  But this is not the right detector for anyone who typically uses discrimination.  If you are going to crank up disrimination on the ATX, you should have selected another detector because you will be diminishing what this detector does very well.

There are two modes - motion and non-motion.  If you have read my posts, you probably know that I almost always use a non-motion or pinpoint or all-metals mode.  That is true with the Excalibur, for example.

The Excalibur's discrimination mode and the ATX's motion mode are similar in some ways even though they are very different types of detectors.

For good performance, the ATX requires the right settings for the situation.   If you have the wrong settings, performance can be way off.  You can say that of many detectors, but I was more aware of that with the ATX.  Perhaps that was because I did a whole lot of testing and was constantly aware of the level of performance that I was getting.

Just like with the White's Dual Field Surf detector, the threshold setting is very important.  Setting the threshold either too high or too low can make the ATX much less effective.

Let me get down to the two very important conclusions.   (1) If you like discrimination you will not like the ATX.  (2) If you like a detector you can turn on and operate in most environments without making adjustments, this detector is not for you.

Like the Excalibur (again, even though they are very different detectors) the ATX can be really sensitive in non-motion mode.  If you are not accustomed to operating in salt sand or salt water in an all-metals mode, this will take some practice.  That is a skill of its own.  You will have to learn to work with signal drift and hearing the effect of salt mineralization etc.

Yes you can run up the discrimination and decrease sensitivity and get a very steady quiet and steady threshold, but that diminishes the power and effectiveness of the ATX.

Most people will not want to use the ATX in the dry sand.  And they will not want to use it on a junky beach anywhere.  Most beach hunters do not have the patience to run such a detector hot without discrimination, and as I said, if you want to use a lot of discrimination you'll diminish the power of the detector so much that you should have bought another type of detector.

The DD coil is said to provide good target separation.  That is not what I found. One of my biggest complaints with the ATX is how wide the signal seems to be.  That took some getting used to.

The ATX does have a pinpoint mode, which is effective, but pinpointing is difficult, to say the least, in the motion mode.  You can however learn to pinpoint fairly effectively in the motion mode without using the pinpoint mode.  That takes a lot of practice though.  I don't particularly like slowing down so much to pinpoint.  With most detectors I can pinpoint very well without slowing down to go into a pinpoint mode.  Remember that with the Excalibur, for example, I always hunt in pinpoint mode anyhow.

This is starting to get a bit long already.  I'll have to finish it some other time.


I've done this blog for a few years now.  I never expected it to be so popular. It could be much more popular and receive much more visibility, but I've turned down opportunities to have it published in some other places.

Anyhow, I was looking back at some posts from the early years and thought it might be a good idea to repost some of those older posts that got buried by hundreds of new posts.  There are so many posts now that I don't think anybody is going to go all the way back to look at the oldee ones.  Below is part of one post that got hundreds of views back in 2010.


Let me begin to address the question even though I'm sure I can't do the question justice in a single post and probably not in a hundred posts. I'm not sure I can do the question justice at all, but I'll give it a shot and maybe something of value will come of it.

Before I begin, let me say that I'm really not suggesting that I have the "right" answer, and I want you to know that the following is nothing more than my opinion. Maybe it will help someone.

First there is no single way to properly hunt a beach. There are different strategies and techniques, and some can be applied to one situation while others might better be applied to other situations.

Some of the most important factors to consider are what you want to find, where you are hunting, and the local beach conditions. Much of the intent of this blog is to provide information on beach conditions.

Before really getting into the meat of the subject, I need to provide some background.

Success can not be guaranteed on any one outing, but you can over the long haul learn to succeed more frequently. It is about probabilities and doing what ever you can to improve the probability of success on any given outing.

There is way too much beach for anyone to cover completely. Therefore, it becomes a matter of spending your time in the right places. Some places are much more productive than others.

First you have to define your own idea of success. Some people want to find things with the highest economic value, other people want to find old things, other people want to find things of historic interest, and other people are perfectly content to go out, get some exercise and fresh air and pick up a few coins.

Your goals should match your personality, goals and circumstances. Most people would like to find something like the treasure of the Atocha, but most people do not have either the optimism, patience, and abilities and resources or commitment to do something like that. High value targets like that usually require tons of perseverance and commitment, and many people would give up way before finishing the task.

Besides personality, situation plays a role. If you want to pan or mine for gold and live in Fort Pierce, your situation doesn't match your goals very well.

Where you live has a lot to do with what you should target, unless you are willing to travel or move.

If you live in South Florida, you should be able to learn to do well hunting modern jewelry. If you live on the Treasure Coast, hunting modern jewelry is not as economically productive as in South Florida.

The Treasure Coast has the famed shipwrecks but hunting shipwreck coins and artifacts isn't easy. Unless you dive and work with someone that has a lease,you are pretty much confined to hunting the beaches, and most of the time the conditions are not good for that.

My main point of all of that is that you have to have some clarity about your own personality, your situation, what you are willing to invest in time, effort, and expense, and your goals before you can maximize the probability of success however you define it.

If you don't have too much patience and easily get discouraged or give up, set goals that are realistic and more easily achievable. Expand the number of things that you target. And learn to enjoy the hunt.

Given all of that, once you decide what you want to find then you can begin to learn the best ways of being successful in finding that particular kind of thing. There are different things to find, and many of them require different strategies an techniques.

One of the things you can do to improve your success rate is to be adaptable. Learn to hunt a variety of different types of things. That requires more knowledge and a variety of different strategies and techniques.

Learn to identify the conditions that are best for different types of hunting and adapt to the current conditions. Take what the beach is offering.


No change in Treasure Coast beach conditions on the horizon.

Happy hunting,

Monday, May 18, 2015

5/18/15 Report - What To Do First When You Have A New Detector. Sunken City Discovered by Divers. A Versatile Camera.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Gold Ring Beach Find.

I seldom look at YouTube detecting videos but was bored the other night and had a few minutes to waste.  The first video that I looked at drove me absolutely crazy.

First, the video was made using a detector that had a very annoying signal.  It sounded something like a mosquito or maybe a cheap child's toy meant to drive a parent crazy.  I think detector companies should put more thought into how signals sound.

But the thing that really drove me crazy about the video is that the guy continued to show his meter as it jumped around as he passed the coil over one undug target after another.  It obviously was a very junky area.  I quickly got tired of watching the meter jump around.  I wanted to shout dig the dang thing if you want to see what it is.  He was detecting in a shallow creek that had little soil covering flat bedrock and could have easily exposed most targets in almost no time.

I felt a little better about the fellow when I found out it was the first time that he had used the detector.  I could then understand why he was spending so much time watching the meter, however he would have been much better off doing his first tests in a controlled environment.

If you don't have a clean area of ground you should find an area that you think might be clean, get some test targets and do your first tests there.  And before that you should do some air tests.

I've mentioned before that I wouldn't use an air test to see how deep a detector will detect a particular object in the field.  Detecting in air is different from detecting an object in the ground, but an air test still can be very useful for becoming familiar with a detector, its different settings and different signals.

If you want to learn more about your detector, start in an environment and situation where you can control most factors.  Don't start with a lot of unknowns.

And when you are ready for a field test, start with the simplest situation first and then gradually work into more complex situations.

For example, on a beach, start in the dry sand.  After you've got a handle on that, move to wet sand, and after that, maybe move into shallow water.  Go from simple to more complex.

As you've probably noticed, I do a lot of experimentation with detectors and objects.  I don't put much stock in what other people say.  I rather test something out and prove it for myself.  I guess that is just the kind of person I am.  I spent a lot of my professional career doing research and conducting experiments.

I've found some commonly accepted knowledge about metal detecting to be wrong.  I recently tested a detector coil that was supposed to provide excellent target separation.  It didn't.  You can't always go by the theory of things or what you hear or read.

I highly recommend doing a lot of air tests and tests in a test garden, as well as field tests with any detector, especially when you get a new detector.

The fellow that made the video I was talking about would have been much farther ahead if he had done  his first tests in a test garden rather than a junky creek.  I understand the temptation to run out and and see what you can find with a brand new detector, but for me I'd rather have some idea of how it works and what to expect before I take a new detector out for a field test.  If you just can't hold your britches, at least pick a fairly simple environment like a dry sand beach for your first tests, preferably one that has been pretty much picked clean.

Another thing I want to say is, Dig it! If you want to know what is causing a signal, put it in your hand, hold it and look at it.  When you really know how to use your detector and what it is saying to you without spending five minutes studying at a meter, then you can strategically pass over targets, but until you reach that point you'll learn a lot more by digging.  You'll also avoid some big mistakes.


Divers discovered the ancient city of Heracleion while searching for Napoleon's ships.  Use this link to read the article and view the video of divers exploring huge stone monuments and statues.


I completed testing of one of the newer detectors and expect to have that written up before long.


As you know I often post various kind of photos in this blog.  I often post pictures of the beach and various finds.  I also once talked about how it is a good idea to take photos of finds for your personal detecting records.  Not only will that help you remember your finds, but photos might also be necessary for insurance purposes.

There is one camera that I've found to be especially reliable and effective in most situations.   It is my Sony Handycam.

You've seen beach pictures that I've taken with that camera.  It also did the best job of taking pictures of flourescent fossil shells under black light.  That wasn't easy, but the Handycam did the job better than any other camera I have.

It has a still photo button, but I more often take a video and then select clips from the video.

Here is a photo that shows the camera's versatility.

Dragon Fly Photo Taken With The Sony Handycam.
Getting this photo could be a challenge with any camera but was easily accomplished with the Handycam.


On the Treasure Coast we have some very nice weather.  The surf is still around two feet, but we have been having some nice low tides.

No change is expected this week.

Happy hunting,