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
Undying hope, captured on a cufflink.
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!
NJ Copper coin
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
1810-1830 Naval button with gold gilt
Recently, I took to the farm fields for a full day of detecting given that the fields will soon be planted, which will signify an end to field hunting until November. Though I have scoured these vast fields about a dozen times, this outing was by far my most successful.
The finds, as seen below, included a gold gilded naval button circa 1810-1830, a post-Civil War South Carolina two-piece button, a colonial flower-motif coat button, a musket ball, a rather chubby skeleton key, an early 1700s George I copper coin, an early 1800s U.S. half cent, a Fishman’s copper store token, an early watch winder, a silver barrette, and many other colonial and post-colonial buttons. Read more