Friday, March 11, 2016

3/11/16 Report - Lead Stylus From Treasure Coast Beach. Good Negative Tides Today.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Four Lead Styluses.
The four lead styluses (both styli and styluses seems to be accepted) shown above were recovered from Wayne County Michigan, the site of the Battle of Brownstown Creek.  They are shown in Identification Guide to Recovered Colonial and Revolutionary War Artifacts by Timothy J. McGuire.

Styluses were used as far back as the days of the Roman empire.  From Wikipedia ,"The original form of "lead pencil" was the leaden stylus used by the ancient Romans, who also used it to write on wood or papyrus by leaving dark streaks where the soft metal rubbed off onto the surface. The concept has been revived in recent times as the core of the "inkless pen": a lead-based metal alloy that leaves dark markings on paper by abrading small pieces of core onto the surface."

I've also seen styluses that were made of bronze and silver.  Some were quite ornate.

Those shown above are described as being from 1770 to 1813,

The stylus shown below is from a Treasure Coast beach. Unlike the more refined examples that can be found both those shown above and the one from the Treasure Coast are more crude, yet functional.

Lead, of course, was used to make shot and was very plentiful in many situations.  It was easily melted or pounded into different forms and used for a variety of purposes.

I've found lead sinkers that were obviously hand-made by melting and drilling or rolling.  Without context it can be difficult to date such items because there are still a few people around who will make their own sinkers out of left-over lead.

Lead Stylus Found
On Treasure Coast
Beach Some
Years Ago.
When I was a child, one of my favorite toys was an electric melting pot and molds that I could use to melt lead and pour my own lead soldiers.  They weren't so particular about lead and heat and safety issues in general in those days.  I wish I had that neat little kit today.

McGuire points out that "Lead was used for many purposes on the Frontier.  It was easily melted and recycled into many different items."

The stylus found on the Treasure Coast was not found on one of the well known 1715 Fleet beaches.  It was found on a shipwreck beach though, where I believe there are multiple shipwrecks nearby from various centuries.  I believe one of those shipwrecks is probably a 19th century shipwreck.

I have found very little good research information on lead styluses like these.

This stylus leaves a black or grey mark on a hard surface.

I have not yet learned anything about what the most common tablet would be made of in the 18th century.

If you let your imagination run wild, you might imagine an officer standing on the beach over seeing recovery efforts and keeping tally of goods that were salvaged.  You can raise many questions or objections to that scenario.

If you can find any good information about how lead styli were used and what they were typically used on I'd appreciate an email.  Or any of your thoughts on the subject.

I could see how this kind of stylus could be used to mark on a large piece of olive jar or even a brick or something.

This is the kind of item that a detectorist might find and toss as junk.

There are a lot of questions remaining in my mind about this item.  I'm sure there are some who will think that it is nothing but rolled lead.  That might be right.  I'm not sure.


On the Treasure Coast it is pretty breezy.  The news is talking about the rough surf and rip tides.  Be careful with those rip tides.

The surf isn't that big though - only around three feet.  And the wind continues from the southeast.

The one thing to consider is the big tides right now.  The high tides are high and there are some good negative tides.  That can be just as important as the surf.  Take advantage of the tides.  I haven't been able to get out to the beach lately, but I'm sure with those tides you will be able to find some small cuts if you look around enough.

Happy hunting,