My 2021 New Years Resolution (and I think my 2020 one, too) was to find sites I hadn't previously searched rather than to put all my eggs on cleaning up what's left of familiar sites. (I still do some of that, too, though). This year I've already reported on four previously unsearched (by me, that is) sites, all which have produced. More on those in my year end summary in a month. Early in November I decided to make one more try for 2021 at finding some new ground and with the help of HistoricAerials.com, I found four promising locations. I'm going to simply refer to them as sites 0, 1, 2, and 3.
Site 0 is the easiest to report on. From early 20th Century USGS topos it was a small (one room?) school that disappeared around 1950. A drive by showed that not only is it now a private home, but that the intersection where it was located has been seriously reworked, i.e. enlargened. At best it falls into the 'private permission' category and I'm not at all good at those.
Site 1, with added help from Google searching, was an elementary school and high school back at least to the eary 30's. The HS closed in the mid 60's and the elementary school a few years later. The building is still there but there are mixed signals as to whether it's public or private. Some threatening signs indicated at least part of it is currently privately leased, but the a__holes are very vague about what is and isn't theirs. I spent 1 1/2 hours in a couple spots with promising results (see photo of good finds below) but I just didn't feel comfortable. There was a lot of coming and going by various groups (sports participants, church goers, etc.) and although no one bothered me I just didn't feel welcome.
Site 2 was another small elementary school. I don't know when it was formed but it appears to also go back to early in the 20th Century. I think it closed around 1960. It's now a small public park and community center. Unfortunately both my visual (internet) research as well as detecting and viewing the site in person makes me think it's been heavily reworked since the school was torn down. First hunt there, 3 1/2 hours, produced 2 Wheaties and a sterling ring, plus a fair amount of modern coins and trash. That was my survey hunt. My second trip there was intended to focus in on a trashy but potentially less overfilled part with the ML Equinox and 6" coil, but that wasn't very fruitful. About 2 hours in I was approached by an elderly (81 year old) friendly neighbor who filled me in on some history. He said he had attended that school as a youngster (presumably around 1950) and told me that although several detectorists had been there before me, as far as he knew they had never searched a slope near one edge of the property where he said he used to play and that bulldozers hadn't bothered. Now that's the kind of info I like to hear! I thanked him and headed over there. For now I'll leave it at that and tell more in the show-and-tell portion of this post. He twice more returned and told me of some other nearby sites I should search but they all sounded like private properties.
Site 3 is an active, modern elementary school which replaced an early one built around 1955. I was able to go there during their Thanksgiving recess. Unfortunately this site has been heavily reworked since the original school was razed and it also feels like it's been rather thoroughly searched. In 7 1/2 hours (two days) of hunting I only found 2 Wheats plus one other oldie (more on that shortly).
OK, here is the eye candy you've been waiting for:
Top two items are from Site 1 -- 1983-D nickel-clad half dollar (only my second ever) and a necklace chain and pendant which was clean but unfortunately apparently (magnetic) nickel plated copper. Both were reasonably shallow but not on the surface. Based upon these finds I don't think this part of this site has seen detectors in 2 or 3 decades.
Now the finds are in pairs from lower left. Site 2 produced this sterling ring with stones (don't know if real, but they look nice to my eye, and especially to my wife who has already claimed it!). Thanks to that 81 year old former student I found the 1899 Indian Head Penny on the virgin slope where he used to play. Turns out the EMI was so bad I had to use 4 kHz on the ML Equinox and its dTID rang up in the high 20's (silver coin zone), not 20-ish where they show up in MultiFrequency. It was only about 4 inches deep.
Next two (silver alloy 'Warnick' and broken piece of jewelry) were found at Site 3, showing that there are a few spots which haven't been backfilled. The broken piece showed up in the USA nickel zone (dTID 12-13 on the Equinox) and given its size I think this is high conductive composition. Both ends show that they were broken off something larger (bracelet?) and the fact there is zero copper coloring there makes me think this could be a silver alloy.
Finally, the last two items on the right were found this past week in my bread-and-butter 2021 site, the 'Wheatfield', not one of these four recently reserached sites. The ring has a men's wedding band shape but is marked '925' so sterling. (My wife has claimed it, too.) The IHP is a 1901. In my two times searching there last week I found 5 Wheat pennies each day (3 hour hunts per day). I expect to spend my last few hunts this year at that site. I'm sure there are more oldies and I'm shooting for a record year (quantity) of Wheat penny finds. I only need 5 more to tie last year's 103.
The above picture is the 'good'. Here are the 'bad' -- interesting (?) non-coin finds from these four sites:
And if you want to see 'ugly', you'll have to await a future post.
It seems one of my recurring detecting New Year's Resolutions has been to find new hunting grounds and not get stuck in a rut trying to find the last crumbs I'm capable of tasting in the sites I've detected extensively. So far this year I've done well (at least one silver coin in each) at three 'new' sites (two parks and one school) and 3 weeks ago before heading out East I was able to get in a short 1 hour hunt at another park I've never previously visited.
I vaguely knew about this spot previously but for various reasons I never tried it. My first 'requirement' is that a new (to me) site have a decent chance of hiding old coins. For the most part that means having had significant human activity prior to 1970 and preferably prior to 1960. This 4th 'new' (to me) site of 2021 didn't seem to meet that minimal requirement. In fact there is a prominent bronze plaque on site which states it didn't become a park until 1974 and previously was an industrial storage lot for several decades. However, Historic Aerials hinted at a more promising past. It seemed to show that some of the modern park's features were present at least back to 1965. I'll go deeper into that later in this post.
That first 1 hour hunt produced three Wheat pennies along with four copper (alloy) Memorial Cents and a couple clad dimes. Three Wheaties in an hour on a site which supposedly wasn't frequented until 1974 was surprising but far from earth shaking. I filed it away until after getting home from my week+ in the East. After getting home I needed some time to decompress (i.e. take care of other things) and it was quite humid besides. Further, this summer has been wetter than normal and the grass grows back as fast as it gets cut. Finally this past Thursday (2 days ago as I write) I got in 3 hours on a freshly mown park. I concentrated on areas that the Historic Aerials indicated would be most promising but still did some fairly broad surveying. The results were a bit disappointing compared to the previous short run -- 1 Wheat cent vs. 4 copper Memorials along with a few modern 5, 10, 25 cent coins. Here's a photo of only the coin finds (oh, plus a Sterling ring my wife has already claimed):
The next day I returned for another 3 hours, this time hunting exclusively on what I considered the most promising part of this site. Now the floodgates started to open: 10 Wheaties compared to 5 copper Memorials along with $1.85 in larger denomination modern coins:
The dates on the 10 Wheaties are: 1909, 1918, 1920, 192x-D (haven't yet resolved that last digit), four from the 40's and two from the 50's. Non-cent finds don't seem to show any particular date pattern although only 2 or 3 are from the current millenium. Now for the non-coin finds from these last 2 days (total of 6 hours):
Pretty much the typical park trash. There is one arcade token from 80's or later (right below five Stinkin' Zincolns). The ladies watch appears to be nothing special (no precious metal or stones). Possibly most interesting is above the drink can lid -- it's a copper piece that looks like it has a coin slot in it. The padlock is badly corroded and the shank has been cut with a hacksaw. It may be from this site's industrial days. Oh, one last interesting find. To the right of the Hot Wheels car is a wooden piece I recognize as being from a Lincoln Logs wooden playset (not metallic)!
So what explains the plethora of Wheat Cents? Here are some hypotheses:
1) The bronze plaque is wrong and the property was turned into a park well before 1974. This seems a bit odd -- I mean the park department historian can't get a date right and spends hundred+ dollars on a sign with erroneous information?
2) The industrial site's employees spent some of their lunch-hours in the same shady(?) sloped spot, either accidentally dropping coins or even possibly playing some kind of penny-ante game tossing them and missing picking up some?
3) Nature's randomness is conspiring to try and trick me into thinking this site's Wheats/Memorials ratio is indicative of something other than just luck.
The plausibility of this last hypothesis can be tested with statistics. I'll start with my on-going 5 year record of fraction of copper Lincolns that are Wheats. That's 338/1547 = 21.58%. Most of these have come from parks and schools, all of those sites having been established no earlier than 1974 while most of the remaining sites were private permission homesites that were established no later than 1960. Thus using this value as 'typical' for sites frequented for at least 47 years is a stricter requirement than necessary. Still, using 21.58% ratio of Wheats to total coppers, the chance that of the first 27 copper alloy Lincolns found, 14 or more would be Wheats is less than one in 7100.
Of course Wheats tend to be an indicator that even better (yes, silver coins) treasures are hidden and awaiting a coil to be swung over them. Hopefully I can add some more evidence by digging one (or more) of those on my next trip to this spot.
You have basically four books on the Equinox metal detector to choose from.
1) The Minelab Equinox 600 800 Metal Detector Hand book by Andy Sabisch $23.95 - 176 pages
2) Minelab The Equinox Series from Beginner to Advanced by Clive Clynik $19.95 - 111 pages
3) The Minelab Equinox: “an Advanced Guide by Clive Clynik $22.95 - 101 pages
4) Skill Building with The Minelab Equinox by Clive Clynik $21.95 - 119 pages
There may be more, but these are the ones I actually purchased. I have no relationship with either author other than some email questions. I also run two very technical book review web sites on college level books and above.
Andy’s book is well edited, with slick photographs and a large easy to read format with some general information on the Equinox detector. However, in my opinion it is padded with photos and testimonials that really don’t add much to the Equinox knowledge.
Clive’s books are more expensive if you buy all three of them. Smaller format and yes, there are some spelling mistakes Clive did not catch. But, for the amount of pure Equinox knowledge (especially for the 800), these books are packed from cover to cover with very useful Equinox information. I find myself highlighting quite a bit in each of Clive’s books.
I have many years of metal detecting experience with various metal detectors under my belt. Nothing prepared me for the 800. My previous detector was the very good Garrett AT Pro. Prior to the Equinox, I feel the AT Pro was the best mid-range metal detector available.
That all changed in the Spring of 2018 when detectorists started buying the 800. Most people at that time could not or refused to believe the 800 was as good as Minelab and a few others were saying.
Big caveat here, this was not your father’s detector. It is a very powerful and complex mid-ranged metal detector. Until you tame it, you will be frustrated unless you learn to just use it as the Minelab engineers designed it and that is to use the standard modes until you have at least 50 hours on the 800 or 600.
And that brings me to Clive’s three books. They will show you how to get the most out of your equinox. If you are content with hunting in the standard modes maybe buying just Clive’s first book.
Bottom line, I kept all three of Clive’s books and sold Andy’s book. But the safe choice would be to purchase all four books.
A recent thread and one of the responses got me thinking on a related topic (related to the response, not the original post question). I quote part of Steve H.'s response (referring specifically to finding natural gold in the Contintental USA):
The best gold was gone a decade ago, and the leftovers have been hit hard the last ten years.
That got me thinking about coin and relic detecting. Good detectors for that purpose have been around at least as long as those for natural gold detecting. Although there are many more locations for coins and relics, and those on average are more accessible, there are certainly more detectorists searching them. So should we arrive at the same conclusion?
One argument I don't buy (although it might apply to jewelry detecting, but even there modern problems exist and are growing) is that coins (in particular) are being reseeded. True, if all you are after is face value (spending money) coins. With the rare exception of very rare mint errors (double dies in particular), almost no coins have been minted for circulation in the last 65 years which carry a collector premium, and few coins minted for circulation contain sufficient bullion value to make melting them down worthwhile, even if you can get away with it.... So, no, there isn't a reseeding of coins of value.
We C&R detectorists do have one major advantage over natural gold detectorists -- private 'permissions'. (Although there are private gold bearing properties and private gold claims on public properties that are accessible, those invariably involve considerable compensation to the property/claim owner for access and/or recovery.) How many unsearched private properties with promise for old coins and valuable relics are still accessible?
Let's continue with unserached public properties such as public schools and public parks. How many of those still exist? Better asked, what percentage of those still exist?
Final set of questions: as is true with gold bearing sites, the earlier detectorists didn't get it all, just the easiest to find and recover. How many old coins (and valuable relics) are contained in sites which have been detected? Do we have the tools today to identify and extract them?
While I (hopefully) still have your attention, I'm mentioning a book which I don't think gets as much notice as many detecting books that do:
How to Research for Treasure Hunting and Metal Detecting by Otto von Helsing (2013). It's ~200 pages of no-nonesense instruction on the topic. To drive home my 'no-nonesense' claim, here is something he says in his second paragraph (in the Introduction): The goal of this book is to teach the average person how to do good research to find promising leads for metal detecting. I don't care if you have gray hair on your head and hate computers or if you are 20-something and like to text while driving (In which case it's likely you won't make it to the gray-hair stage.) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm just getting started and don't expect it to be a lazy read, so I can't yet give a review. But I like his attitude.
While looking at this online book I saw a sketch of the San Bernardino meteorite. The report was published in 1883!