Our latest permission is a 13-acre horse farm in Burlington County, NJ. These stables are home to exactly 21 horses and the dedicated staff that ably cares for them. Now, when detecting a horse farm, there are several givens that the detectorist knows will be encountered: multiple gates to open and close to access each segmented area of the grounds (see our Ethics section about our tenet of always securing gates at a site); curious horses ambling about and occasionally coming over to smell you; piles of horse poop to navigate around; and (related to the latter) an ever-present smell of “nature” in the air. Read more
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.
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!
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.
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!