This month in 1979 I bought my first metal detector a Bounty Hunter RB7, took me almost 3 years of pure frustration to get my first nugget,(pic below) after many 100s of hours, I know now I sure went over heaps of detectable gold, and still do, but not the heaps I went over then,...…...I hope...……... Below is some photos, I wish to share with DP members to celebrate, unfortunately I did not take many photos, straight into the crusher smelted down and off to the mint, have scanned what I could find from the old "shoe boxes". Plus a couple of recent ones, the specimen last is highly magnified, gold in limestone, and although no weight is probably the most valued by me, not just because it was my first piece (found with that RB7), but because of its uniqueness.
Consider myself very privileged to live in this era, it has enriched my life not just in its monetary value, but given a challenge and still does that I suspect has no equal.
MN I`ve gone and done it and not even close to the 30th of February.
By Jim McCulloch
... the first of the 49'ers from the eastern US states, Australia, England, and Mexico were now beginning to arrive in the California gold fields. Hopes were high that they would "see the elephant," an allusion to participating in a truly spectacular, life-changing event. The California Gold Rush, from 1849 to 1857, was one of the most significant world-altering events in modern history. While metal detectors have replaced gold pans and rocker boxes, those of us who pursue "the elusive yellow metal" are the brethren of those intrepid 49ers. A post-gold rush ballad states "... and I often grieve and pine... for the days of old... the days of gold... the Days of 49..." I hope you all "see the elephant." HH Jim
By Mark Gillespie
Finally got to hunt an old home site yesterday evening. The elderly gentleman had given me permission to hunt all his property and he had kindly given me a little history of the different home site that were on the property. I listen intently to every word to obtain as much information as possible of each locations. One of the sites was a home assembled using wooden pegs. He proceeded to explain that he tore the home down and burned the balance then proceeded to get a dozer to grade the property and fill in with dirt. He did explain that anything there would be over a foot deep and he was correct, I couldn’t find anything that would date the property to the early 1800’s.
The second site I hit yesterday and even though I didn’t find any nice relics I had a lot of fun just hunting. Moving around in the area I noticed a section where the Equinox would give many false high tones. Knowing this usually meant iron I opened up the screen and every sweep revealed multiply low tone iron signals. After a while I decided to start digging these low tones that gave an ID of -3 and found my answer, cut nails. Wow, that means I’m on an old site, yes, excitement overwhelmed me for a few minutes.
Noticed the Ole man walking up the field to where I was I waited for his arrival. Knowing he would have more to say and the very first thing out of his mouth was, “have you dug any cut nails yet?” My answer, yes sir and handed him one and the story unfolds more detail of the site. He said when he was a child there was only a few foundation rocks left of this house, no wood but only the rock foundation. That was 80 years ago and he estimated the site may have been 200 years old. At that point I got extremely excited at what might be here until the very next statement from the gentleman. “Mark, I had the site leveled many years ago.” “But I pushed all the dirt to level the lot in one direction and I would guess your best bet of finding anything would be along the banks of the hill.” Well, yet another let down, a site dozed, that destroys the originality of where and what could have been found. But I’ll continue to hunt while I can and digging cuts nails is still fun.
"Nails provide one of the best clues to help determine the age of historic buildings, especially those constructed during the nineteenth century, when nail-making technology advanced rapidly. Until the last decade of the 1700s and the early 1800s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames. These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod. After heating the rod in a forge, the nailor would hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The pointed nail rod was reheated and cut off. Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and form a head with several glancing blows of the hammer. The most common shape was the rosehead; however, broad "butterfly" heads and narrow L-heads also were crafted. L-head nails were popular for finish work, trim boards, and flooring.
Between the 1790s and the early 1800s, various machines were invented in the United States for making nails from bars of iron. The earliest machines sheared nails off the iron bar like a guillotine. The taper of the shank was produced by wiggling the bar from side to side with every stroke. These are known as type A cut nails. At first, the heads were typically made by hand as before, but soon separate mechanical nail heading machines were developed that pounded a head on the end of each nail. This type of nail was made until the 1820s.
By the 1810s, however, a more effective design for a nail making machine was developed; it flipped the iron bar over after each stroke. With the cutter set at an angle, every nail was sheared off to a taper. With the resulting nails thus all oriented in the same direction, it became possible for the same machine to automatically grip each nail and form a head in a continuous mechanical operation. Nails made by this method are known as type B nails.
Cutting the nails leaves a small burr along the edge as the metal is sheared. By carefully examining the edges for evidence of these burrs, it is possible to distinguish between the earlier type A nails and the later type B nails. Type A nails have burrs on the diagonally opposite edges, while the type B nails have both burrs on the same side because the metal was flipped for each stroke.
This kind of evidence can be used to establish the approximate period of construction or alteration of a building. Type B cut nails continued to be the most common through most of the greater part of the nineteenth century.
With the rapid development of the Bessemer process for producing inexpensive soft steel during the 1880s, however, the popularity of using iron for nail making quickly waned. By 1886, 10 percent of the nails produced in the United States were made of soft steel wire. Within six years, more steel-wire nails were being produced than iron-cut nails. By 1913, 90 percent were wire nails. Cut nails are still made today, however, with the type B method. These are commonly used for fastening hardwood flooring and for various other specialty uses."
I found this old newspaper article from the New York Times that I really enjoyed reading, it's just as relevant today as it was in 1999 when it was printed.
One paragraph in it really stood out to me, and it's very true.
'This is an art,'' said Mr. Vega, the Long Beach beachcomber. ''It's knowledge. You have to know the elements and you have to become one with your machine. Your machine talks to you and doesn't lie. But the machine is as good as the guy that's operating it.''
Here is the article, it's very much worth reading
I've found in the past sometimes articles like this are restricted, and this article says its for subscribers only but overseas people can sometimes read them when locals can't, seems odd to me but it's happened before.
In case you're unable to read it here it is
Finding Happiness With Metal Detectors
By ALLAN RICHTERAUG. 15, 1999
''THERE'S something,'' Hugo Vega said suddenly, halting the metal detector that he had been sweeping across the sand in slow arcs. He listened as the detector beeped into his headphones. ''Sounds like a coin,'' he said. Mr. Vega took a clump of wet Long Beach sand with his scoop, plucked out a shiny quarter and deposited it into a mesh bag around his waist. A quarter mile of beachfront later, he was $2.50 richer.
Mr. Vega, 50, has retrieved a fair share of garbage, including rusted nails, soda-can pull-tabs, even hypodermic needles in his 13 years of detecting. But he estimated that he has also found more than $30,000 in jewelry and $5,000 in coins.
''I'm a wet-sand guy,'' Mr. Vega said, staking a position with the die-hards among Long Island's estimated 1,500 treasure hunters. Most treasure seekers avoid the hard work of digging in heavy wet sand, even though it's a natural spot to find jewelry lost by swimmers as cool ocean waves finish the ring-loosening job begun by tanning oil. ''If you throw a Frisbee into the water and you have suntan lotion on, there goes your ring,'' Mr. Vega said.
The Island's prospectors are hardly homogenous in the places they look or the things they seek. Some look only for historical relics and avoid the beach. Most stick to the dry sand and don't care whether their coins were minted just a few years ago. A few hard-core hunters don wetsuits and wade up to their necks with sophisticated waterproof detectors and floating sand sifters. From there it's just a degree or two of separation from the big-time treasure hunters who search the globe for sunken galleons.
But whether the take is doubloons or dimes, the hobbyists all seem to share a passion for the thrill of the surprise. Archeologists say human artifacts dating back 10,000 years can be found on Long Island. Metal relics from the early 17th-century arrival of Europeans onward are most likely to send signals bouncing through prospectors' detectors. But sharp-eyed treasure hunters have retrieved stone arrowheads and other non-metal artifacts from the region's once-dense Indian populations. ''The metal detector is like a time machine; it takes you into the past,'' said Michael Chaplan, a Richmond Hill, Queens, epidemiologist and treasure hunter whose searches have turned up a Lincoln campaign button and a Revolutionary War cannonball. His oldest find: a fishtail-shaped stone arrowhead from an aboriginal group called the Orient Focus Culture that lived on the Island about 3,000 years ago. ''You never know what's going to be in that hole that you're going to dig,'' Mr. Chaplan said.
Even veteran treasure hunters said they would have a tough time making a living from prospecting with metal detectors. Nonetheless, some enthusiasts come by the occasional windfall.
Lillian Rade and her husband, Ron King, were scouring an East Hampton potato field near their home nine years ago when Ms. Rade found a rare 340-year-old New England sixpence. The $35,200 the coin fetched at auction became a down payment on their home, Ms. Rade said.
''Now I want to move to a bigger house, so I need another coin,'' she said.
Enough treasure hunters are similarly enticed to account for about 500 prospecting permits issued annually by the regional office of the state Parks Department. The estimate of 1,500 treasure hunters working the Island came from Tony D'Angelo, president of the local Atlantic Treasure Club, a 26-year-old group with 45 members that meets monthly in Eisenhower Park. A second group, the Patchogue-based Long Island Treasure Hunters Club, was revived this year and has 47 members.
Capt. Richard O'Donnell of the state Park Police said that the state required treasure hunters to turn in items valued at $20 or more. (Unclaimed stuff is returned to the finder after as little as three months and as long as three years, depending on the value.)
The hobbyists have also operated as an informal lost-and-found outside the parks. Last winter, Sonny Mincieli, 17, of Lake Grove, lost a $1,500 diamond-studded gold ring that his parents gave him as an early graduation gift. A treasure hunter, Glen Pagano, was recruited and found the ring after a two-hour search in the snow-covered backyard of Sonny's girlfriend. Sonny suspects he lost the ring in the yard of the Saint James home two nights earlier, when the teens were out late using a telescope.
''If I wouldn't have found this ring and if it wasn't for this guy I would have been in real trouble with my parents,'' Sonny said. ''My mom would've killed me. This ring has nine diamonds in it. Thank God for metal detectors.''
Not everyone shares the sentiment and metal-detector enthusiasts nationwide worry that opponents could legislate the hobby out of existence.
Area archeologists said that detector-lugging treasure seekers pose less threat to Long Island's archeologically significant sites than reckless developers and property owners with no regard for history. Still, Jo-Ann McLean, an archeologist at Garvies Point Museum in Glen Cove, remains wary of the prospectors.
''Once you go into the ground and remove an artifact from its original place you lose all context,'' Ms. McLean said. ''Being able to name the artifact doesn't tell us anything. We want to know what the people were doing, what the culture was like. If people are out there digging these places up, we may never get to properly excavate the sites to know if there are holes in our understanding.''
David Bernstein, director of the Institute for Long Island Archeology at SUNY Stony Brook, said: ''It's as if people are going around and randomly cutting pages out of history books. There's a threat to archeological sites on Long Island from looting in general, and the use of metal detectors is just one small part of the problem.''
Hobbyists say that not all treasure hunters are out to warehouse historical relics as strictly personal trophies or collect a handsome profit from an unfortunate bride's lost wedding ring. In any case, Long Island prospectors and state, county and local officials said that they have settled into a peaceable relationship.
Of Long Island's 20 state parks, 13 are open to detector-toting hobbyists. On top of that, Suffolk County allows detecting on its beaches, though not in its parks. Nassau County rules are more relaxed and ask only that hobbyists leave public grounds the way they found them.
Mr. D'Angelo, a 67-year-old Massapequa resident, traced today's harmony between metal detector hobbyists and parks authorities to meetings in 1997. When Mr. D'Angelo began negotiating with state parks officials, he arrived with brass knuckles, a razor-sharp deer hunting arrow and 45 rounds of ammunition retrieved from Hecksher State Park.
His effort to dramatize the hobbyists' civic contribution removing dangerous materials worked. Among other concessions, parks officials opened more beachfront to the treasure hunters and lifted some restrictions on access to picnic grounds.
Veteran treasure hunters tend to avoid making unnecessary holes in the ground by being able to hear the differences between metals. But they know not to ignore pull-tabs, which have similar conductive characteristics to gold and may send the same signals. (Metal is detected when radio signals bounced into the ground are interrupted.) And like meteorologists, enthusiasts who hunt year-round know to look for a nor'easter -- next winter's storm may uncover this summer's bounty.
''This is an art,'' said Mr. Vega, the Long Beach beachcomber. ''It's knowledge. You have to know the elements and you have to become one with your machine. Your machine talks to you and doesn't lie. But the machine is as good as the guy that's operating it.''
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A version of this article appears in print on August 15, 1999, on Page LI14 of the National edition with the headline: Finding Happiness With Metal Detectors. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe