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Identified Flying Object

Posted by on July 30, 2012

1857 Flying Eagle PennyJames and I returned to the Southwest NJ location we previously hit for 8 hours on a 98-degree day. This time, we’d span 9.5 hours in around 90 degrees, interrupted twice by rumbling thunder and rain. It was a long and fruitful day, and my lower back is just a tad sore from all the digging.

We arrived at the property at 7am and the plan for the day was to attack the front lawn, grid style, and dig everything. Geared up with my Garrett Ace 350, and James with his Garrett AT Pro, we declared our dividing lines and started swiping the earth. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every 2 steps resulted in a solid hit. Mostly low tones, but the plan was to dig everything. And so I did. Well, after the 8th rusty nail in a row, the plan changed and I discriminated out iron. James did as well. We simply had to in order to prolong our backs and legs for the long day ahead.

The front yard is long and goes all the way to the street. We both started carving our way, stopping every 5 feet or so to dig up a new signal. Even with iron discriminated out, we dug up a lot of junk. And although pull tabs were accurately identified by the Ace 350, I couldn’t risk ignoring them. As it was, iron was already on my pay-no-mind list.

It probably took us an hour or more to get to the street on our first grid path… yes, we were digging that much stuff. Mostly junk, but some clad coins were in the mix. James also found an ornamental object, yet to be identified. Near the road my detector was going nuts; signals were bouncing all over the place, high low and in between. After a few scrap metal digs, I deemed the area too junky and moved on. About 10 minutes later I heard James yell, “I got an Indian!” I turned to see him kneeling on the spot I gave up on.


“I got a Buffalo too!”


James' money coin finds of the day: Merc, Indian, Buffalo and War Nickel

James' money coin finds of the day: Merc, Indian, Buffalo and War Nickel

So I circled back to the roadside. More junk and a few modern pennies, one of which as ripped in half. James got the good stuff. He was like a little old lady at a casino who sits at the slot machine you walked away from and then hits big.

James also found a harmonica reed near his coin spill. I imagine that perhaps many many years ago someone sat against the tree, played a tune, and lost some coins from his pocket. Later in the day I think I found the front casing of the harmonica itself.

While I was digging up yet another pull tab, James, who at this point had abandoned the grid and wandered to the opposite side of the property, yells, “I got a Merc!” Good for you, James. Good for you. I got a twisted piece of crap that rang up as silver.

At this point it was about 11am and it started to rain. OK, not so bad, I think we can … KABOOM! OK, big thunder clap, time to take refuge. We had an early lunch in my car while we waited for the rain and thunder to pass.  After about a half hour, the rain started to let up, so I opened the door to check the … KABOOM! Damn. Well, gee, it doesn’t sound like it’s directly overhead… think we’d be safe with our long metal rods with electronic attachments? Hmm… ok, let’s wait it out a bit more. If lightning’s going to strike, I’d rather it be in the form of a really good find.

Rusty nails and screws

Some of the rusty nails and screws we dug up. Oh the fun.

The rain finally passed and we went back to the front yard. James mentioned he wanted to hit the lower part of the backyard, a spot he got some decent finds our last time on this property, but there’s no shade whatsoever. On that day it was 98 degrees and just too oppressive to focus too much time on the area. We knew we’d be back anyway. I said I was game for when the time came.

Our second round resulted in some more pennies, scrap metal, pull tabs, nails, and other miscellaneous junk. On one dig I pulled out an orange-ish coin that was smaller than a penny. I got excited! I took a penny out of my super-cool detector pouch to compare the size and it was indeed smaller than a penny. Upon closer inspection I noticed that it was a modern Rosie dime, discolored by years of underground inhabitance. Oh well. Better than a pull tab. Around this time James pulled up his war nickel, but I didn’t know he made that discovery. He had wandered to the far side of the front yard nearing the neighbor’s driveway. The neighbor was outside and said, “Hey guys, feel free to detect on my property too.” Score!! We will be back! Plus his property borders a railroad track which may have some interesting finds waiting to be unearthed.

Pulltabs and bottle caps

A record day for us -- most pull tabs and bottle caps ever!

As you can guess based on the photos of our piles of junk and miscellaneous items, we dug a lot. Like I said, every few feet was a solid hit, even with iron discriminated out. Rain started falling again but we persisted till the big boom came. Back to the car for an unscheduled break. After about another half hour, rain was still falling but we didn’t hear any rumblings in the sky, so we decided to take our chances and scope out the backyard. Since my Ace 350 isn’t water proof, I busted out my Fisher CZ-21. It’s a new machine for me, and I’m not too intimate with it yet. And with all the metal in the ground, I just wasn’t confident I was ground balancing it correctly. It found me a couple pull tabs and twisted metal, but as soon as the rain stopped I switched back to my Garrett.

At this time it was about 4pm, and I knew 4:15pm it would be time to start wrapping it up. Drizzle was falling from the sky, but upon switching detectors I decided to abandon the backyard and return to the front which had some protection from the trees. I was on the far side of the yard, near the neighbor’s driveway. I knew James had been over here earlier, but I didn’t see any traces, so I decided to go for it. Dug up some scrap, and then I got another hit. What could it be this time?

Although my pinpointing was pretty good all day, on this hole I missed the mark. I was a couple inches off on the right, so I re-dug. Rain was starting to fall a little harder, but I wanted to dig whatever this was out of the ground. And there she was. Sigh, another penny. As I looked more closely, I noticed it wasn’t a modern Lincoln. What is it? It says United States, but definitely not a Lincoln. Hmm… is that… is that a flying eagle?

“James!!! I got something good!”

As he started to walk over I noticed the first three numbers of the date: 185. My hands raised in victory as James got near me.

“Eighteen fifty something… look.”

“Dude, that’s a Flying Eagle I think! Depending on the year, it could be worth serious money. The first year was 1856 and wasn’t meant for circulation, but some got out.”

1857 Flying Eagle Penny

1857 Flying Eagle Penny, front side

1857 Flying Eagle Penny, back side

1857 Flying Eagle Penny, back side ... I hope it's not toasted.

I was stoked. After just over 9 hours of digging, I got the killer find I was hoping for. The rain was falling so it was time to call it quits. As we walked back to the car, we swiped the ground the whole way, but nothing significant was found. When we got the car I was able to see the whole date: 1857. This is my oldest coin to date, beating my 1891 fish scale by 34 years. And what’s even better, it helps us better date the property as the owner doesn’t have any information for us prior to 1900. And now that we have the neighbor’s yard in addition to a lot of untapped soil on this property, we will be back as many times as it takes.

Below are just about all our finds. Again, each item represents a hole dug. Yeah, we were pretty tired by day’s end!

Misc detector finds

Some of my keepers from the day, a couple things I have to identify like the toy gun/cannon looking thing and the shoe buckle. In this photo is part of the harmonica I think.

James' detector finds

Some of James' finds that somehow made it into the junk back. I shall return his treasures.


James' coin finds of the day.

James' coin finds of the day.


A lot of remaining junk to go through. Again, keep in mind that each piece represents a hole we had to dig. We were busy.

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2 Responses to Identified Flying Object

  1. jay

    Nice story and Flying Eagle! In the big picture of the coins, what is the quarter sized coin with the little star in the middle? 2nd row from top…

  2. Grant Hansen

    Thanks Jay. It’s a token. I think just a generic arcade token. We’re still doing some research on it. James will take some larger photos of it and we’ll add it to the gallery.

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