One of the main benefits of metal detecting is constantly learning new things through the objects you find. You may not, as they say, “learn something new every day,” but certainly, it seems, you “learn something new every dig.”
On my last outing, I unearthed some notable items, including a William III copper coin (1694-1702), 2 early-1800s U.S. large cents, and some 1700s tombac buttons. I didn’t know it when I returned home, but my best find of the day was something I might have overlooked if it wasn’t for my archaeologist neighbor’s experienced eye. Among the miscellaneous “other” finds from the day was a small, curled metal piece, seemingly made of copper or brass. When I showed the collective finds to my neighbor, he picked out this curled piece and said, “See, I told you to look out for these.” I remember that initial conversation, but not specifically what items he had referred to. He said, “This is a Native American tinkler. It would have been worn on a belt with several others and these would ‘tinkle’ together during movement to ward off spirits.” I was surprised and happy to hear that I had found a Native American artifact. Further research yielded more info. These “conical tinklers” were made from metals (usually copper or brass) acquired via trade with original settlers—an interesting fact that also helped to date the piece. Not only were tinklers worn by some to ward off spirits, but also to heighten the meaning and spectacle of ceremonial dances.
So on this day, like so many before, I learned something new via an item I dug out of the ground. For metal detectorists, that’s exactly why we “do what we do.” Here’s to continued learning!
Recently, I embarked on a day-long outing to the South Jersey farm fields. This was a new permission of my friend’s (to which he graciously invited me) on land directly adjacent to a separate property where I found my 1st Spanish cob (1620-1650). So, needless to say that I didn’t need any further proof that this new field was a place rife with history. To be sure, these fields are dissected by a river that was the main thoroughfare for the original settlers of the mid-to-late 1600s, to say nothing of the many 18th and early 19th century passersby. Read more »
While updates for the XP Deus, like the recent v4.0 update, are only written for Microsoft Windows environments, there is a way to update using a Mac! I’ve created a short how-to video, hoping it’ll help fellow Mac users update and enjoy the XP Deus update.
Obverse (front) of King Charles II farthing, 1672-1679. Notice the left-facing bust.
Some fields continue to provide great artifacts no matter how many times you scour them. This can be due to a host of factors: an expansive acreage that can never be precisely searched, changing ground conditions (e.g., erosion due to rain), the churn of the plow, etc., etc. So, it was no surprise to me that a recent visit to some South Jersey fields—call them my “go to” fields for the last 2 years—yielded 2 great artifacts passed over on previous visits.
Working a small area near a century’s old farmer’s path, I got a perfect-sounding 80 reading on my detector. In these fields, which rarely contain junk other than some random can shards, when a good signal is encountered, it’s always something old and noteworthy. Digging down no more than 6 inches, I excavated a smaller copper coin (“smaller” meaning not the typical large cent of colonial and post-colonial eras). After cleaning the coin, I could make out a faint image of a left-facing bust and an even clearer image on the reverse of Lady Britannia. Typically, these 2 images taken together mean the ubiquitous mid-1700s King George II copper (in this case, seemingly a farthing, due to its smaller size). However, further research led me to focus on the close proximity of Ms. Britannia’s arm to her head; this provided the indisputable verdict that what I had found was a Charles II farthing. Though no date could be clearly identified, these coins were minted between 1672-1679. This represented my 2nd 1600s coin and my 1st King Charles. Read more »
Thanks to Asbury Park Press columnist Jerry Carino, filmographer Brian Johnston and photographer Doug Hood for capturing us at our best. We’re thrilled with the article, photos and video. Please have a read, look and watch!
Grant & James were featured in the Asbury Park Press
On a recent outing to an unplanted field in Salem County, NJ, among other finds (King George III copper, colonial tombac coat button, 1894 Indian Head penny) I located a colonial cufflink. As I unearthed it, I immediately noticed a crude design, which in my experience is often the case with 18th century cufflinks. At first, the image looked like the letters “D” and “R” intertwined with rays above them. However, through the magic of social media—this time a colonial coins and relics Facebook page—two members quickly provided a more accurate ID: The image was of a woman resting on an anchor. On the surface, this design conjures up a romantic vision of a young maiden longingly waiting for her beloved mariner to return to port after a long time at sea. However, through further research (and more online magic), I learned that this image is an age-old allegory used to symbolize undying hope.
Undying hope, captured on a cufflink. Featured side-by-side with James’ artistic rendering.
Thus, in the reflection that followed this find, something became clear to me: Amid a very uncertain time of rough living conditions, short lifespans, and uncertain futures, the colonial wearer of this cufflink not only literally wore hope on their shirtsleeves, but (much more significantly) they held unyielding hope in their heart. We can learn a lot from our forbearers!
There’s a story behind every artifact. Most of these stories remain dormant like the fields in which they are buried. This latest find is yet another example of how metal detectorists can give them voice!
Sometimes, an artifact can provide newfound excitement long after its original excavation because it is positively identified as much older and/or significant than previously thought. Such was the case with a button originally pictured in one of my previous posts.
Back in early January, I had found a flat button on the same quick excursion that yielded a 1621-1665 Spanish cob and my first arrowhead. At the time, I suspected that it was an older button (“older” meaning pre-dating the usual company-made 1800s flat buttons I commonly find). My suspicions were predicated in large part on the lack of a backmark (maker’s mark) and especially considering the rather crude shank (loop), which was slightly off-center and looked almost like a square nail shaft had been fused to the button and then bent over to create a loop.
The story of these buttons was featured in the April 2016 “Best Finds” issue of Western & Eastern Treasures magazine. Please contact me if you’d like to learn how to read about the wonderful experience of unearthing these rare and historic relics, which includes meeting two of the nicest and most generous home owners I’ve ever come across. In total, I found 7 NJ Civil War Staff Buttons of the Alberts NJ 7D b/m Horstmann & Allien/NY variety. These are quite rare, and I can tie them to the original owner, which adds to their historic value. Read more »
In early January, exploring some remote parts of NJ, I was tipped off by a local about a colonial-era house with 100 acres located down a remote road on a riverbank. He had me at “colonial-era,” for shortly thereafter I was on my way to seek permission to metal detect there.
Long story, short, the owner was very nice to chat with but guarded with respect to granting permission to hunt his property. After some genuine assurances on my part, he eventually agreed on a compromise—I had just “an hour or two” to detect 100 acres of barren corn field! Daunting as that was, I had no time to think about it. Read more »
No matter what your hobby or interest may be, we all have those elusive, much-sought-after finds, goals, catches (think fishing), or items that we are hoping to someday cross off our personal bucket lists. For me, in my hobby of metal detecting, this was always the New Jersey state copper coin. Why the New Jersey “copper”? Well, I was born, bred, and still reside in New Jersey—a place for which I hold an immense amount of pride. Couple that with the fact that, as most people with any knowledge of history can attest, New Jersey (wedged between the major colonial and wartime-contested cities of New York and Philadelphia) played a pivotal role during colonial and Revolutionary times, even earning the title of “the cockpit of the Revolution” because of the amount of battles, skirmishes, and Revolutionary traffic that occurred here. Read more »